The town of Skiatook is situated in Tulsa and Osage counties at the junction of State Highways 20 and 11, some twenty miles north and west of Tulsa. Skiatook was founded by William C. Rogers, chief (1903-07) of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory when he established a trading post on the south bank of Bird Creek, two miles north of the present townsite. The settlement was named Ski-a-took when a post office opened there in 1872.
The word Ski-a-took, Cherokee in origin, is generally accepted as meaning "Big-Injun-Me," or refers to something of large size. It has also been documented that William C. Rogers submitted the name after Skiatooka, an Osage who lived nearby. The designation was changed to its present spelling in 1892.
On December 18, 1904, a bank was deeded property on the present Skiatook townsite, sparking a construction boom. William C. Rogers relocated his general store and the post office there, and many entrepreneurs set up in tents, building whenever the weather permitted. In March 1905 the Midland Valley Railroad reached town, connecting the community with the nation's railway system. The coming of the railroad resulted in moving the settlement, part of which is now located in Osage County (the town's municipal offices are in Tulsa County). Skiatook was incorporated on May 28, 1905.
The Skiatook vicinity has three historical markers. Provided by the Oklahoma Historical Society, they honor William C. Rogers, the Hillside Mission, and the Battle of Chustenahlah. Also in the area is Healing Rock, or Tepee Rock, located south of the Corps of Engineers project office on Skiatook Lake. The rock is twelve feet high, has a seventeen-foot base, and is fourteen to sixteen inches thick. According to legend, sick Indians leaned against the stone to be healed.
The Skiatook Museum was organized in 1976. At the turn of the twenty-first century it was located on South Broadway in the former home of Dr. W. G. Phillips. Built in 1912, the house contained Phillips's office and now displays local historical artifacts, pictures, mementoes, and scrapbooks. Visitors can read early-day Skiatook newspapers dating back to April 1905 when the town's first newspaper, the Skiatook Sentinel, began publishing.
Skiatook's first school started in 1905. The town's educational system kept pace with the growing population and at the turn of the twenty-first century had five public schools. The Skiatook Library is part of the Tulsa City/County Library System. Known as "the Gateway to the Osage," Skiatook is identified with timbered, rolling hills, natural gas and oil production, fertile farm and ranchland, Skiatook Lake, and an expanse of tallgrass prairie.
At 1907 statehood Skiatook had 342 residents. Numbers rose to 606, 1,653, and 1,789 in 1910, 1920, and 1930, respectively. The population declined to 1,303 reported in 1940 and 1,211 counted in 1950. Thereafter, the town gained citizens from 2,098 in 1960, 3,596 in 1980, and a high of 5,396 in 2000. Development around Skiatook Lake (impounded in 1984) should continue expanding the town's population and boosting its economy. Local industries include Skiatook Statuary and a John Zink Company manufacturing plant. The town commemorated its centennial on September 17, 2005.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. H. Cleveland and G. B. Epperson, comps. and eds., Skiatook, 1872 to 1921 (Tulsa, Okla.: Mid-West Printing Co., 1921). Skiatook, Oklahoma: Gateway to the Osage Nation, 1872-1999 (Skiatook, Okla.: Skiatook Museum, 1999). "Skiatook," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Anna Mae Henderson
© Oklahoma Historical Society