A place “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain,” so said Rogers and Hammerstein in the famous musical of the same name, Oklahoma is a collection of six very different and diverse regions. The state, like so many others, was one of the places where explorer Coronado came looking for gold, and French traders claimed land that would eventually be part of Louisiana Purchase. Before statehood, vast herds of buffalo roamed free in Indian Territory that was home to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminoles. After the Civil War all tribes were forced to relinquish their land to make room for other tribes being resettled from the East. The abandoned lands were declared “unassigned lands” causing a huge rush of settlers from Germany, Ireland, Eastern Europe, newly freed African Americans and other Americans seeking to own their own land. Together, they all did not make statehood until 1907. The ongoing westward expansion brought about by the new settlers ushered in ranching, favoring cattle drivers who established herds in the center of the country. To this day, Oklahoma continues to be a thriving center for livestock, so important that the National Museum of the American Cowboy is located here. Yet, as it did in so many other places the discover of coal – and ultimately oil – changed everything. Fortune hunters and wildcatters arrived to capture “black gold,” bringing a whole new dimension to a state still steeped in Old West traditions and timeless heritage. The diversity of Oklahoma’s past is still alive today, in the “Sooner State” – originally the nickname of the University of Oklahoma football team, adopted by the whole state. 

Oklahoma Scenic Byways