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WEST SILOAM SPRINGS

On scenic U.S. Highways 412 and 59, West Siloam Springs is located in southeastern Delaware County along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. The community is situated forty miles south of Grove and Grand Lake O' the Cherokees and ninety miles east of Tulsa. West Siloam Springs exists because in the mid-twentieth century the city of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, expanded westward across the state line, creating the need for an Oklahoma-based governing body. Richard C. Wilkerson, Julius Roberts, and Bill Watson played a key role in a campaign to incorporate the town. On July 10, 1969, an election was held at a local discount furniture store and thirty-five of forty-six voters approved incorporation. At that time the population of West Siloam Springs was 142. In 1980 the population stood at 432 and climbed to 539 in 1990.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the town had a city hall, a police station, and a volunteer fire department. A government loan and grant provided the means for a new sewer system. Businesses within the city included convenience stores, restaurants, auto repair shops, liquor stores, and a truck rental business. Beaver Springs Schoolhouse, the oldest building in West Siloam Springs, dates to 1904. Elementary and high school students from the town attend classes at Mosely, Colcord, and Watts.

A nearby gaming casino, owned and operated by the Cherokee Nation, and Oklahoma's youngest state park, Natural Falls, draw visitors to the community. Originally known as Dripping Springs, the park was privately owned for many years. Amidst the unique beauty of the Ozark Plateau and the park's seventy-seven-foot-high waterfall, in 1973 scenes for the movie Where the Red Fern Grows were filmed at the site. The 120-acre park is located three miles west of West Siloam Springs. The Hilderbrand Mill, ten miles west of town, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 72001063). In 2000 West Siloam Springs was a "bedroom" community with a population of 877 citizens.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Heritage of the Hills: A Delaware County History (Jay, Okla.: Delaware County Historical Society, 1979). Virgil Talbot, "Moseley, A Beautiful Prairie," Heritage of the Hills: Magazine of the Delaware County Historical Society 4 (Winter 1984).

Sharon Koons

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