Stillwater, Oklahoma facts for kids

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Stillwater, Oklahoma
City
Nickname(s): Stilly
Motto: "Still Pioneering"
Location within Payne County and Oklahoma
Location within Payne County and Oklahoma
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Payne
Incorporated December 12, 1884
Area
 • Total 28.3 sq mi (73.3 km2)
 • Land 27.9 sq mi (72.1 km2)
 • Water 0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation 984 ft (300 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 45,688
 • Density 1,614.4/sq mi (623.3/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 74074-74078
Area code(s) 405
FIPS code 40-70300
GNIS feature ID 1098541
Website stillwater.org

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Stillwater is a city in north east Oklahoma at the intersection of US-177 and State Highway 51. It is the county seat of Payne County, Oklahoma, United States. As of 2012, the city population was estimated to be 46,560, making it the tenth largest city in Oklahoma. Stillwater is the principal city of the Stillwater Micropolitan Statistical Area which had a population of 78,399 according to the 2012 census estimate. Stillwater was part of the first Oklahoma Land Run held April 22, 1889, when the Unassigned Lands were opened for settlement and became the core of the new Oklahoma Territory. The city charter was adopted on August 24 later that year. Stillwater is home to the main campus of Oklahoma State University, as well as a branch of Northern Oklahoma College, Meridian Technology Center, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Stillwater has a diverse economy with a foundation in aerospace, agribusiness, biotechnology, optoelectronics, printing and publishing, and software and standard manufacturing. The city operates under a council-mayor government system. The city's largest employer is Oklahoma State University. It was one of the 100 top places to live in 2010, according to CNN Money Magazine.

Stillwater is located in the area popularly known as "Tornado Alley". It has a humid subtropical climate and the highest recorded temperature was 115 °F on August 11, 1936 (46 °C).

The city is home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum and the NCAA Division I Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cowgirls.

History

The north-central region of Oklahoma became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In 1832, author and traveler Washington Irving provided the first recorded description of the area around Stillwater in his book A Tour on the Prairies. He wrote of “a glorious prairie spreading out beneath the golden beams of an autumnal sun. The deep and frequent traces of buffalo, showed it to be a one of their favorite grazing grounds.”

Stillwater OK Welcome Sign
Stillwater Welcome Sign (2010)

According to one legend, local Native American tribes — Ponca, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee — called the creek “Still Water” because the water was always still. A second legend states that cattlemen driving herds from Texas to railways back east always found water "still there". A third legend holds that David L. Payne walked up to Stillwater Creek and said, “This town should be named Still Water”. Members of the board thought he was crazy, but the name stuck.

Stillwater Creek received its official name in 1884 when William L. Couch established his “boomer colony” on its banks. While the creek itself was tranquil, the next few years saw turmoil as pioneers sought free, fertile land and soldiers held them off while complicated legal issues and land titles with Creek and Seminole tribes were hashed out. On April 22, 1889, the cannons fired signaling the first Land Run that opened up the Unassigned Lands of the Oklahoma Territory, which included Stillwater. By the end of the day, 240 acres (0.97 km2) had been claimed and designated as Stillwater township and a tent city with a population numbering 300 had sprung up on the prairie. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture simply says that the name officiallybecame Stillwater only when the post office opened on May 28, 1889.

On Christmas Eve, 1890, the legislature of Oklahoma Territory passed a bill certifying Stillwater as the land grant college site. In 1894, Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College held a dedication of its first brick building, Assembly Building, later known as Old Central. Between 1889 and statehood, Stillwater grew. By statehood in 1907, downtown Stillwater was home to more than 50 buildings including several banks, churches, grocery stores, hotels, and department stores.

The first newspaper was the Stillwater Gazette; telephone and gas service arrived in 1899; and the Eastern Oklahoma Railroad arrived in 1900.

The population in 1917 was 3,000 and by World War II it had grown to more than 10,000. During the war, town leaders’ aim was to convert Oklahoma A&M into a war training center. They succeeded in creating 12 training units that involved bringing nearly 40,000 service men and women to Stillwater. The WAVES (Women's Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) was the largest with 10,000 participants. Quonset huts were dotted across town and barracks occupied the site where Stillwater Medical Center and the CareerTech headquarters are now. This vast operation tided the city through the war and served as a base for a healthy economy in the postwar period.

In 1952, the Industrial Foundation was established and its trustees worked to bring new industry to town: Moore Plant in 1966, Mercury Marine in 1973, National Standard plant in 1988, World Color Press in 1974 and Armstrong World Industries, Inc. in 1988. The census of 2000, the population was 39,065; however, the population was adjusted to 46,156 in 2009.

Geography

Local pond
Teal Ridge (2009)

Stillwater is located 60 miles (97 km) north-northeast of downtown Oklahoma City and 63 miles (101 km) directly west of downtown Tulsa by road. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.3 square miles (73.3 km²), of which, 27.9 square miles (72.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (1.62%) is water.

Climate

Stillwater has a humid subtropical climate, and is located in the area popularly known as "Tornado Alley". Tornado watches and warnings are frequent, with sirens sounding to warn townsfolk to hurry to shelters when necessary. Summers are sunny, hot, and humid, with the temperature reaching or exceeding 100 (38 °C) ten times annually on average. Winters are generally sunny, mild, and dry, with an average January high temperature of 47 °F and an average annual snowfall of 7.5 inches (19.1 cm).

The highest recorded temperature was 115 °F (46 °C) on August 11, 1936, and the lowest recorded temperature was −18 °F (−28 °C) on February 13–14, 1905 and February 4, 1996.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 480
1900 2,431 406.5%
1910 3,444 41.7%
1920 4,701 36.5%
1930 7,016 49.2%
1940 10,097 43.9%
1950 20,238 100.4%
1960 23,965 18.4%
1970 31,126 29.9%
1980 38,268 22.9%
1990 36,676 −4.2%
2000 39,065 6.5%
2010 45,688 17.0%
Est. 2015 48,967 7.2%

As of the census of 2010, there were 45,688 people, 17,941 households, and 7,920 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,547 people per square mile (541.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.50% White, 4.71% African American, 3.93% Native American, 5.56% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.19% from other races, and 5.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.26% of the population.

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,604 households out of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.1% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.1% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city, the population was spread out with 15.2% under the age of 18, 38.2% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 13.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,432, and the median income for a family was $41,938. Males had a median income of $31,623 versus $22,312 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,789. About 12.6% of families and 27.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Eskimo Joe's
Eskimo Joe's (2010)

Stillwater is known as the home of red dirt music, a mixture of folk, country, blues and rock, and its hometown heroes Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, the Red Dirt Rangers, The Great Divide, No Justice, Jenny Labow, the Jason Savory Band, and the grandfather of red dirt, Bob Childers.

Garth Brooks, Other Lives, and The All-American Rejects got their start playing the local bars like Willie’s Saloon, Tumbleweed Dance Hall and Concert Arena, and Eskimo Joe’s.

Eskimo Joe's has celebrated its anniversary in July for more than 35 years. It was voted “Best College Post-Game Hangout” by Sporting News, ranked #3 in "The Perfect 10 College Sports Bars" by Sports Illustrated and named in Playboy.com's “Top 10 College Sports Bars.” Joe's shirts have been spotted all around the globe.

Tumbleweed, home of the world-famous annual Calf Fry, was also nominated as one of the five top venues for the “Dancehall of the Year” award by the Academy of Country Music.

Located on The Strip on Washington Street, Willie's Saloon has been a Stillwater tradition since 1974. It is known for being the venue where country music's Garth Brooks began his career after being spotted there by Dallas entertainment attorney, Rod Phelps.

Stillwater hosts several performing arts series, including performances at the City of Stillwater Community Center, the Town and Gown Community Theater and OSU’s Allied Arts held in the Seretean Center on the OSU-Stillwater campus.

Stillwater is served by several voluntary organizations dedicated to providing entertainment and cultural experiences: the Stillwater Community Singers, the Stillwater Community Band and Stillwater Jazz.

Annual festivals and events

Downtown Stillwater Car Show
Downtown Stillwater Car Show

Stillwater is home to a number of annual festivals and community events held throughout the year. Residents also benefit from the many events and activities hosted by Oklahoma State University.

Spring kicks off with the Stillwater Public Education Foundation's A Taste of Stillwater, a fundraiser held each March. Other events include the Stillwater Elks BBQ Blaze-a-thon, Tumbleweed Calf Fry and Oklahoma Special Olympics’ Annual Summer Games. For years, Stillwater has played host to the Special Olympics Oklahoma in May when thousands of athletes and hundreds of volunteers gather for three days of competition and Olympic-style ceremonies. This is the largest amateur sporting event in Oklahoma, and the largest Special Olympics event in the U.S. Also held in the spring is the Stillwater Home Builders Association's Home and Garden Show, and the Remember the 10 Run. The Stillwater Arts Festival is now in its third decade. The festival is a two-day juried art show held in April features live, local entertainment, artist demonstrations and children’s activities.

Garth Brooks Homecoming Marshal
Garth Brooks Homecoming Marshal

In summer there is the Krazy Daze Shopping Extravaganza and the Payne County Fair. For Independence Day, Stillwater hosts the annual Boomer Blast fireworks show at Boomer Lake Park. The Stillwater Farmers' Market is held April through October on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The fall season begins Collegefest, OSU Student Government Association's Lights on Stillwater, a trade-show style event held on the OSU Library lawn where students learn about local restaurants, shops and services, and the Downtown Stillwater Car Show. The annual Downtown Stillwater Halloween Festival is held the Tuesday before Halloween and includes a costume contest.

Since 1920, Oklahoma State has welcomed alumni to “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration”. Each year more than 70,000 alumni and friends return to campus and participate in a parade. For more than twenty years, the Eskimo Joe's Juke Joint Jog 5K and Fun Run has been held in the fall to benefit the Stillwater Area United Way.

Winter is celebrated with the Festival of Lights, Downtown Christmas Parade, and the Madrigal Dinner Concert on the OSU campus.

Points of interest

Sheerar Museum of History
Sheerar Museum of History

The Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Stillwater. The museum features exhibits about Stillwater and Payne County, including the first land run that opened Oklahoma Territory for settlement in 1889. The Museum is undergoing a renovation of its exhibit gallery in 2012 to move from the previous design of decades based Permanent exhibits to exhibits focused on significant themes in Stillwater's history. The Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History also offers a variety of temporary exhibits and programs that change on an annual basis.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum is also located in Stillwater. It is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the sport, celebrating achievements, and encouraging young athletes in the sport.

The Washington Irving Trail and Museum, located in a rural setting, celebrates the heritage of Payne County. Famed American writer Washington Irving camped nearby in 1832. In 1861 the first battle of the American Civil War in Indian Territory took place northeast of the museum, near Yale and in 1893 the Doolin-Dalton Gang battled U.S. Marshals at nearby Ingalls. In 1925 the Billy McGinty/Otto Gray Cowboy Band, of Ripley became the first cowboy band in the nation to play over the radio. The museum also features Boomer leader David L. Payne.

Gardiner Art Gallery
Gardiner Art Gallery

In October 2013, Oklahoma State University opened the OSU Museum of Art in the renovated Postal Plaza, a former WPA-built Federal Post Office in Downtown Stillwater. The university began collecting art in the 1930s, an endeavor initiated by former head of the OSU Art Department, Doel Reed. The university also operates the Gardiner Art Gallery on campus in the Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts, home of the OSU Art Department. Exhibits in the gallery, which are open to the public, vary from student and faculty exhibits to national shows. Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum covers more than 100 acres (0.40 km2) with thousands of species of flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees. It features specialized gardens like butterfly and organic gardens, turf and nursery research centers and a Centennial Grove. It also has a 4.5 acres (1.8 ha) studio garden where OETA's show "Oklahoma Gardening" is filmed. The facility, located west of Stillwater on State Highway 51, also has a Japanese Tea Ceremony Garden.

The Oklahoma WONDERtorium is a children's museum that provides outreach programs and takes hands-on, play-to-learn encounters and activities to elementary classrooms, preschools and child care centers.

David L. Payne Memorial Monument, located in Boomer Lake Park, honors Captain David L. Payne, known for efforts during the 1880s to open unassigned lands for settlement. In 1995, his body was exhumed and moved from Wellington, Kan., to this site. Payne County, Oklahoma, is named for him.

International Friendship Garden is located at the City of Stillwater Community Center and was built in 1997 by the Kameoka Landscape Gardeners Association to celebrate the program’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration. The gardeners purchased and shipped 22 tons of materials, tools and supplies to Stillwater, and over a two-week period they constructed a traditional Japanese garden. They also built a small tea garden at the Oklahoma Botanical Garden at Oklahoma State University. The International Friendship Garden was dedicated Sunday, July 26, 1998, with a delegation from Kameoka in attendance.

The Stillwater Public Library dedicated a bronze statue of Oklahoma historian/author Angie Debo on November 18, 2010. Created by local artist Phyllis Mantik, the statue depicts a young Debo sitting on a rock with several books by her side. Mantik chose to depict the historian as a young woman to illustrate that at an early age she chose the life of a scholar rather than what was expected of a woman of her time. To highlight Debo's importance to Oklahoma's Native American Tribes, the base of the statue is surrounded by the seals of Oklahoma's 38 federally recognized Native American Tribes.

Stillwater is home to the Original Hideaway Pizza, Oklahoma's oldest pizzeria.

Fire Station on the OSU Campus
Campus Fire Station
Pleasant Valley School
Pleasant Valley School

The following Stillwater sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • James E. Berry House (502 S. Duck St.)
  • Campus Fire Station (600 W. University Ave.)
  • Citizens Bank Building (107 E. 9th Ave.)
  • Cottonwood Community Center (N.W. of Stillwater)
  • William Frick House (1016 S. West St.)
  • Hoke Building (121 W. 7th Ave.)
  • Josephine Reifsnyder Lustron House (2119 Sherwood)
  • Magruder Plots (Oklahoma State University-Stillwater)
  • Murphy House (419 S. Monroe St.)
  • Oklahoma A & M College Agronomy Barn and Seed House (2902 W. 6th St. Building #610)
  • Old Central (Oklahoma State University-Stillwater)
  • Payne County Courthouse (606 S. Husband St.)
  • Pleasant Valley School (1901 S. Sangre Rd.)
  • Selph Building (119 W. 7th Ave.)
  • Santa Fe Depot (400 E. 10th Ave.)
  • Walker Building (117 W. 7th Ave.)

Parks and outdoor attractions

Trail around Boomer Lake
Trail around Boomer Lake
Soccer-parks
Whittenberg Park

The City of Stillwater Parks and Recreation Department manages more than 5,000 acres (20 km2) of parkland, including five ball complexes, ten tennis courts, two disc golf courses, four lakes, one swimming pool, 14 playgrounds, one skate and bmx bike ramp, special services centers, including the Multi Arts Center, Senior Activity Center, Community Center, Armory Gymnasium and Lakeside Golf Course.

Lake McMurtry, owned by the City of Stillwater, offers hiking and mountain-bike trails, back-to-nature camping and well-stocked reserves for fishing. Its convenience store and bait shop are open seasonal hours.

Lake Carl Blackwell is owned by Oklahoma State University. It offers camping, gift shop, covered pavilion, grills, restrooms and boat rentals.

Stillwater is served by a number of paved and unpaved bicycle and walking trails for non-motorized forms of transit. The Kameoka Trail Corridor includes a three-mile (5 km) loop around Boomer Lake and additional disconnected segments throughout the city. The corridor begins north at Park View Estates and runs along West Boomer Creek toward Airport Road and Boomer Lake Park, circles the lake and cuts south to Stillwater High School, crosses McElroy and continues to Hall of Fame between Main and Perkins and crosses through Hoyt Grove Park.

Other multi-use trails include an asphalt trail through Couch Park, a dirt nature trail around Sanborn Lake, bike and pedestrian trails at Lake McMurtry, and a one-mile (1.6 km) gravel screenings loop at the Oklahoma Technology & Research Park.

Four golf courses are located in Stillwater:

  • The 18-hole course at the Karsten Creek Golf Club features 7,095 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 74.8 and it has a slope rating of 142 on Zoysia grass.
  • The 18-hole Template:Lakeside Memorial Golf Course features 6,698 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70. The course rating is 71.3 and it has a slope rating of 117.
  • The 18-hole course at the Stillwater Country Club features 6,471 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70. The course rating is 71.0 and it has a slope rating of 125.
  • The 18-hole course at The Links At Stillwater features 6,258 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71.

Transportation

Major highways

Stillwater has two highways running through it: Oklahoma State Highway 51, or 6th Avenue, runs east and west; and US-177, or Perkins Road, runs north and south. The city is also served by a 7.2-mile (11.6 km) spur that connects US-177 to the Cimarron Turnpike.

Airport

ExpressJet ERJ at Stillwater Regional Airport
Stillwater Regional Airport

Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO) has served the city since 1917. American Airlines began service in August 2016 with two daily round trip flights to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The flights are operated on behalf of American Airlines by their regional partner Envoy Air using the 50 seat Embraer-145 jet. Private jets also fly in and out of this airport.

Bus service

Public transportation is provided by the OSU/Stillwater Community Transit System. Ten bus routes are operated within the Stillwater's city limits and on the OSU campus.

Awards and recognition

  • Business Insider named Stillwater the best city in Oklahoma to buy a home.
  • USA Today College named Stillwater one of the 25 best small college towns in the country.
  • Stillwater was named the smartest city in Oklahoma by Only in Your State.
  • Stillwater ranked as one of the top 100 best places to live in the U.S. (small to mid-sized cities) on Livability's 2016 list.
  • Stillwater was named one of the safest cities in Oklahoma in 2016 by BackgroundChecks.org.
  • Stillwater was named one of the top 10 best cities in Oklahoma to retire by Only in Your State.
  • In 2015, TIME Inc./Money Magazine named Stillwater as one of the top 25 places to retire in the United States
  • In 2014, USA Today recognized Stillwater's annual Halloween Festival as one of the 10 Best Halloween Costume Parties.
  • Movoto named Stillwater as one of the 10 happiest small places in America in 2014.
  • Movoto Real Estate recognized Stillwater as the most exciting place in Oklahoma in 2014.
  • In 2014, the USA Today recognized Stillwater one of nine cities with the fastest growing income between 2010-2012. Stillwater's income grew more than 17 percent during that time.
  • In 2013, Lumosity completed a study that found Stillwater was the No. 25 smartest city in the United States with a score of 102.59.
  • In 2010, Stillwater was named the "6th Fastest Growing Small Town in America" by Forbes.com. Stillwater saw a growth of 8% from 2006 to 2009 as the population of Stillwater and surrounding community rose from 73,818 to 79,727. Stillwater proper remains a jurisdiction of less than 50,000.
  • CNN/Money Magazine rated Stillwater, OK, #67 on its top 100 places to live list for 2010.
  • Stillwater is a member of Tree City USA.

Sister cities

Stillwater has been sister city to Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, since 1985. The State of Oklahoma and Kyoto Prefecture signed a sister state agreement in 1985 through the auspices of the governor’s office. Kameoka requested a sister city in Oklahoma that was about one hour from the capital, agriculturally based, and home to a university. Stillwater was a perfect match. In 1985, the first delegation from Kameoka visited Stillwater, and in November of that same year a Stillwater delegation went to Kameoka. There, Mayors Calvin J. Anthony and Yoshihisa Taniguchi signed the Sister City Affiliation Agreement that officially established the sister cities relationship the two cities.

Since 1989, the Stillwater Middle School and Taisei Junior High School in Kameoka have participated in a sister school relationship, which features an active teacher-student exchange program.

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