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Stillwater History

Over a century ago, on April 22, 1889, the foundation for the future city of Stillwater was laid. Thousands of homesteaders rushed the land as Oklahoma Territory was officially opened for citizens to cultivate a new home.


This official opening of the land to settlement was preceded by a significant event. In 1884, Captain William L. Couch attempted to settle the land. Couch and his companions were escorted out of the area by the military, but not before they named the area near Stillwater Creek, “The Town of Stillwater.” The name stuck and the city of Stillwater was born.

The historic events leading to permanent settlement were the basis of the city’s motto, “Where Oklahoma Began.” Although Stillwater was young, the newly arrived residents had great dreams and visions of what it was to become. Their ideas led to many accomplishments over the years which helped put Stillwater on the map.

In May of 1890, founders saw the establishment of Stillwater as the seat of County No. 6 and in December, they were able to secure the site for a new land-grant college. These developments, along with the arrival of the railroad in 1901, proved to create a strong foundation for a city destined to lead the area in development and growth. What began as a town of 600 has grown to over 40,000 and the land-grant college, now Oklahoma State University, has an annual enrollment exceeding 23,000 students.

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