An incorporated community in central Osage County, Wynona is situated along State Highway 99, eleven miles south of Pawhuska. Wynona was named by local rancher Antoine Rogers, an Osage-Cherokee, who had settled nearby following the Osage removal from Kansas in 1871. The town originated when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T) built tracks across Rogers's acreage in autumn 1903, and a store was constructed along the right-of-way north of his home. The shop housed the Wynona post office, which opened in December 1903.
Wynona was primarily a cattle shipment point until 1909, when the Osage Townsite Company began development. The population increased that year from approximately 20 to more than 150. The weekly Wynona Enterprise, the town's first newspaper, debuted in August 1909. Five later publications included the Wynona Record and the Wynona Argosy. Businesses in 1912 included a grain elevator and a cotton gin.
Petroleum was discovered near Wynona in 1914, leading to the formation of the Wynona Oil and Gas Company. With the oil boom came lumberyards, supply houses, and other businesses. Gasoline plants dotted the countryside, and oilmen frequented the local stores, cafés, and boarding houses. By 1916 Wynona's commercial district covered three city blocks. The community's highest officially recorded population was 2,749 in 1920.
Ranching and agriculture enhanced Wynona's boomtown economy. Although cattle remained a principal export, area ranchers diversified during the 1920s and became involved in the hog, poultry, and dairy industries. At the same time, farmers grew strawberries, blackberries, and other fruits.
Wynona's prosperity was short lived. Lacking electric services and paved streets, the town lost businesses during the early 1920s. The Great Depression and the end of the Osage oil boom brought further decline. By 1960 Wynona's population was 652. Businesses then included several grocery stores and service stations. The local MK&T line was abandoned in 1977.
Wynona had 531 residents in 2000, the highest percentage of whom worked outside of town. The community was administered by a town board and had a post office, four churches, an elementary school, and a high school. The nearest hospital and public library were located in Pawhuska.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989). Osage County Profiles (Pawhuska, Okla.: Osage County Historical Society, 1978). "Wynona," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Jon D. May
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