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REYDON

Located on State Highway 30 in western Roger Mills County, Reydon is surrounded by thousands of acres of Black Kettle National Grassland and tall drilling rigs in the gas-rich Anadarko Basin. The town was established in 1928 after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built its line along Rush Creek two miles north of the town of Rankin. When the railroad purchased land from local farmers and laid out a townsite, Rankin merchants moved to the new town. Because the railroad already had a town named Rankin on its line in Texas, the new community was called Reydon for one of the Chicago railroad executives. However, historian George Shirk asserts that the town's name came from Reydon, Suffolk County, England. When the Reydon post office was established on October 1, 1929, James L. Hines served as the first postmaster.

Soon Reydon had four lumber companies, a Chevrolet dealership, and a hospital. Other town amenities included a variety store, a millinery shop, a bakery, a butcher shop, and two hotels. Two cotton gins, a hammer mill that ground wheat and corn, and produce buyers served the farmers. Residents organized five churches and benefited from a weekly newspaper, a telephone system, and a school built by the Works Progress Administration, one of the New Deal programs in the 1930s.

In 1930 the population stood at 216. It rose to 311 in 1940 and peaked at 331 in 1950. At the turn of the twenty-first century Reydon had 177 inhabitants. Townspeople maintained a kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade school system, a post office, a city hall and fire station, an emergency medical and ambulance service, a senior citizen facility, and an American Legion hall. A cafe and a convenience store at the edge of town served tourists, hunters, and oil-field service workers who traversed State Highway 30. However, because very few businesses existed in Reydon, most trade was conducted in Cheyenne, the county seat, and other larger towns. In December 2003 Reydon was featured on the front page of the New York Times in an article illustrating the plight of dwindling small towns of the Great Plains.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). Roger Mills Minute: A History of Roger Mills County (Cheyenne, Okla.: Security State Bank, 1992).

Dorothy Alexander

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