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Central Oklahoma stretch of Chisholm Trail roadbed now on National Register of Historic Places

The Chisholm Trail leaves nothing but memories as dusty as the trail itself, but a portion of a supporting road just east of the 19th-century cattle highway, preserved from development, is now officially recognized.
by Richard Mize Published: August 3, 2013

H.H. Halsell retraced the trail in 1927 and wrote in the 1937 “Cowboys and Cattleland: Memories of a Frontier Cowboy” (Texas Christian University Press) that “only in a few places could I see any sign of that old trail. Now it is all gone and all that is left is a memory.”

Well, nowadays there are highway signs, historical markers and museums. And now there is a certified stretch, between two creek fords, of the “service road” to the cattle trail, 12 feet wide, carved 19 to 22 inches deep into the ground.

“The roadbed's width, depth and U-shaped profile are compatible with the design of documented nineteenth-century roadbeds. Its setting, protected as it has been by the McGranahan family's landownership, has changed little in more than a century,” Warde wrote. “It is still rural, wooded and fairly insulated from the sound and sight of recent development.

“Although gravel beds occur nearby, the material of the roadbed is earth as might be expected on the nineteenth-century Indian Territory frontier,” she said. “The workmanship was probably never more than some initial brush-cutting to allow the single-file passage of wagons between the two fords. The hard-packed earth has since minimized the re-emergence of undergrowth, helping to maintain the roadbed.”

The site remains undisclosed to keep it secure, said Lynda Ozan, architectural historian and National Register program coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office.

Good. If not, I'd be out there to check it out — lots of others, too — and we'd probably mess it up.

by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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