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STRONG CITY

Situated in Roger Mills County, Strong City is located on State Highway 33 approximately five miles northeast of the county seat of Cheyenne. The town was established near the Washita River in 1912, twenty years after the area was opened to non-Indian settlement during the Cheyenne-Arapaho Opening. Formal town opening ceremonies were held on June 25, 1912. Named for Clint Strong, a railroad official and entrepreneur instrumental in the town's organization, Strong City became the terminus of a rail line built by the Clinton and Oklahoma Western Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway). The rail reached the community in early August 1912. James P. Johnson served as the first postmaster when a post office was established on September 26, 1912. Within a year it had a population of approximately 600, making it the largest town in the county.

Strong City prospered as a trade center. Principle outbound shipments included broomcorn and hogs. By mid-1913 it boasted a bank organized by townspeople, two grocery stores, two drugstores, two restaurants, two dry goods stores, three lumberyards, and two grain elevators. It also had a movie theater, a Ford garage, a hotel, and several churches. The Strong City Herald, a weekly newspaper, first appeared on August 1, 1912. During its history it was known throughout the state, because its editor supported the Socialist Party in Oklahoma. S. W. Hill, one of the few Socialist Party members ever elected to the Oklahoma legislature, hailed from the Strong City area.

However, growth and prosperity were short-lived. Extension of the rail line to Cheyenne and eventually into the Texas Panhandle caused the trade to shift to the west. By 1915 the glory days had almost passed. In the 1930s the Great Depression as well as natural disasters caused an exodus of inhabitants. Between 1920 and 1950 the population dwindled from 350 to 107, respectively. In 1956 the last school in Strong City closed, and on April 3, 1981, the post office ceased operation. Although John W. Morris lists Strong City in his book, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma, it continues as an incorporated community. The town had 40 residents in 1970 and 56 in 1980. The 2000 census reported 42 inhabitants residing in the corporate limits of Strong City. At the turn of the twenty-first century they maintained a church, a community building, a senior citizen organization, a volunteer fire department, an emergency medical team, and a rural water district, which was formed in 1974.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cheyenne (Oklahoma) Star, 16 April 1992. John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977). 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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