Travelers to any part of Oklahoma can learn more about the heritage, history and development of historic places, communities and regions by looking for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
More than 1,200 entries from all regions of Oklahoma are listed on the National Register, said Melvena Heisch, deputy director of Oklahoma's State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. National Register documentation of these entries can provide a valuable resource for travelers interested in Oklahoma's heritage and history.
Information is available for visitors to historic sites and areas such as the Sod House in northwestern Oklahoma, Guthrie's Carnegie Library in central Oklahoma, Fort Gibson in eastern Oklahoma and Fort Washita in southeastern Oklahoma, all operated by the historical society.
The register, established under the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, is the catalog of the archaeological and historic properties that are significant in our nation's heritage, Heisch said.
“The Oklahoma Historical Society's mission is to collect, preserve and share the history of our remarkable state,” said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the agency.
The preservation office helps carry out this mission through federal historic preservation programs.
“The state office collects and evaluates information on buildings, structures, sites, districts, objects and landscapes. With this information, the state office nominates eligible properties to the National Register of Historic Places as a level of preservation,” Blackburn said.
From the nomination forms, researchers can learn about local history in general, Heisch said. They also can obtain specific details about why a property is significant. They can find the physical description of the property and view photographs taken at the time of the nomination. Both privately and publicly owned historic properties are included in the National Register.
“While the locations of a few of them, such as archaeological sites, are not public information, travelers can view the majority of these historic places from the public right of way,” Heisch said. “For example, visitors can drive through a historic neighborhood, such as Oklahoma City's Heritage Hills or Tulsa's Maple Ridge, and enjoy the exceptional architecture of these historic areas.
To access a National Register nomination, visit www.