April 20, 1937
Gov. E.W. Marland signed legislation establishing a state police force, which would come to be known as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
May 7, 1941
Trooper Sam R. Henderson became the first Oklahoma Highway patrolman to die in the line of duty. Henderson was hit by a passing car while talking to the driver of a vehicle he had stopped near Lawton. A drunken soldier from Fort Sill was driving the car that hit him.
World War II depletes the patrol's manpower, with a force of 150 troopers cut to less than 50 as many were either drafted or enlisted in the armed forces. An auxiliary force of civilians helped fill the gap during the war by investigating accidents and serving as dispatchers for the few troopers who remained.
The patrol becomes the first law enforcement agency in the country to use aircraft for traffic control.
Massive increases in highway construction and traffic during the 1950s and early 1960s left the patrol stretched thin across the state, but the passage of the National Highway Safety Act combined with state legislation helped expand the patrol and modernize its operations with new tools, such as breathalyzers to enforce laws against drunken driving.
The single deadliest year for the patrol saw six troopers killed in the line of duty, including three who were shot to death in a gunfight with prison escapees and two more who died in a plane crash.
April 19, 1995
Seventy-five minutes after a bomb in a rental truck blew up in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, causing the deaths of 168 people, trooper Charlie Hanger stopped a Mercury Marquis on Interstate 35 in Noble County. The car had no license tag. Hanger arrested the armed driver, Timothy McVeigh, who later was identified as the culprit behind the bombing.
May 26, 2002
Two barges on the Arkansas River crashed into the support for the Interstate 40 bridge, causing the bridge to collapse about 7:45 a.m. Numerous cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, a motor home and a horse trailer plunged into the river. Troopers dragged some people to safety, but 14 others died in the bridge collapse.