Eagletown: Oldie but Goodie
Eagletown, also known under its Choctaw name of Osi Tamaha, is one of the oldest towns in Oklahoma.
It is also one of the oldest towns that is still active, although its downtown is the worse for wear.
No one comes to Eagletown for sightseeing. It is one of those places a mile or so off the federal highway - US 70, aka the old Lee Highway -
that moved most of its business to take advantage of the automobile traffic zooming by. So the town's original center quietly crumbles.

But don't let Eagletown's rather derelict appearance fool you - this little hamlet is chock full of history, no pun intended. (Get it? Chock full
--> Choctaw? Okay, I won't quit my day job.)

Eagletown began its existence within a decade after the Louisiana Purchase. American settlers, seeking new opportunities, began to crowd
into southwestern Missouri Territory which, by 1819, became the Arkansas Territory. At this time, Arkansas Territory encompassed all of the
lands west to the 100th Meridian and south of the 36th parallel, give or take. In 1824, those lands  become Indian Territory by an act of
Congress.

Indian Territory was created in a trade, so to speak. Southeastern tribal nations like the Choctaws
ceded their ancestral lands east of the
Mississippi for new lands in the west. The Choctaws' new lands encompassed all of southern Oklahoma between the Red River and the
Arkansas River (this area would be whittled down when the Chickasaws claimed a territory of their own in the 1850s, and was further
curtailed by the creation of the Kiowa Reservation in the early 20th century).

The
Anglo Americans who had already settled in what they believed was Arkansas Territory were not happy - federal soldiers removed them
off their farms, and much of their nascent infrastructure had to be abandoned. This abandoned area would become Eagletown.

When the Choctaws entered Indian Territory, they discovered fields that had already been cultivated,  grist mills, and several abandoned
houses. They also encountered rather angry white people.
What was once a courthouse (seriously) in old Eagletown. (Oklahoma Historical Society).
Arkansas Territory as it appeared in 1819, the year of its creation. The green colored land in the west would be split off in 1824 to become
Indian Territory. Eagletown (where the "x" is) sat right along this new border line. (1826 map, courtesy Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antiques)
X
To protect the incoming Choctaws from the displaced Anglo farmers, the military established Fort Towson to the west of Eagletown.
Soldiers also built a road that linked the fort to
Washington in Arkansas. Many of the farmers ended up moving across the Red River into
Mexican Texas, but every once in a while, they would harrass the soldiers and Indians, at one point burning down the fort.

It may have been because of this trouble that Eagletown never grew into a major settlement, even though it was fairly well situated along
a military/post road and not too far from the Little and Red Rivers. According to accounts by an early settler, Peter Hudson, Eagletown was
for many Choctaws simply a brief stopping point to get their bearings. Then, the emigrants would leave to set up permanent homes near
Doaksville or within the hills of the Quachita Mountains.

Eagletown could have been a contender in Oklahoma history, anyway. For a brief while, it served as the seat for the newly formed Eagle
County in 1850. However, Choctaw attempts at autonomy were interrupted with the Civil War, and the county was dissolved. Eagletown
continued to exist, but didn't really thrive until the railroad came through.
Peter Hudson drew this map of Eagletown for the Oklahoma Historical Society in the 1930s. (Chronicles of Oklahoma, vol.10 no.4)
The Choctaw Railroad, which would became the St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco) Railway before bought by the Kiamichi Railroad, came
through Eagletown at the turn of the 20th century. Its main purpose was to supply trees to and ferry finished lumber away from the
sawmills that had grown into a sizeable industry with McCurtain County. Many non-Choctaw Americans moved into this portion of
Oklahoma to take advantage of new job opportunities. A school was established, and its continued existence allowed Eagletown to hang
on as a viable town into the 21st century. While the train no longer stops at Eagletown, it still barrels through every once in a while just
south of the old downtown.

Even I,
an avid ghost town hunter, have to admit that there's not much to see in Eagletown. But its very existence, after almost two
centuries, attests to the notion that fascinating history can often be hidden under rather banal exteriors.
An 1898 map of Indian Territory shows Eagletown near waterways as well as along the military road (today's US 70). Just to its east is Arkansas.
(Library of Congress)
Downtown Eagletown is full of abandoned gas stations. The town also has a "Mad Man Road." I'd love to know the story behind that name.
Just a few miles west of Eagletown, on the way to Broken Bow, sits this ante-bellum church/ school house that once served Eagletown.
Want to take a road trip to Eagletown? Then click on this map to find out
how to get there. After you're done, head on out to
Beaver's Bend State
Park just north of Broken Bow for some gorgeous Oklahoma scenery.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
How to Get
There