There’s no doubting Oklahoma’s history in the oil and natural gas industry. From the early wildcatters to today’s world-class producers, the industry has been a mainstay in Oklahoma’s economy since the state’s founding.
It has also played an instrumental role in the establishment of dozens of Oklahoma’s towns and cities, which sprang up at the turn of the twentieth century to accommodate oilmen and their families.
Many of these towns came from humble beginnings as small ranches or homesteads. Others were founded by the oil production itself — makeshift cities built to sustain a workforce.
These Oklahoma towns saw their heyday because of the natural resources they bared, leading to the boom of these communities. Today, many of them are still thriving with families and businesses, while others have merely a name and memories to remind them of their rooted oil and natural gas history.
Discover the Oklahoma towns that wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for oil and natural gas production.
This town was founded in 1893 in the middle of the Ames crater, or Ames Astrobleme, which was created by a meteor strike around 450 million years ago. In 1991, oil was discovered within the crater, making it one of only a few oil-producing craters in the world.
Founded in 1873, Bartlesville is known as the longtime home of Phillips Petroleum Company, which was founded in 1905 when the area was still an Indian Territory. Thousands are still employed in the oil and natural gas industry, with the city home to offices for ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66 and Chevron Phillips.
Founded in 1901, the town soon became home to the “Cashion Pool,” which ran from Cashion almost to the Kansas border west of Enid. It is considered the largest single oil pool ever discovered.
Cheyenne was founded in the late 1860s, but its heyday with the oil and natural gas industry would come nearly a century later. In the 1970s, the Panhandle-Hugoton field was developed into the largest-volume gas field in the U.S. Between 1973 and 1993, the field produced more than 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.
This town was founded in 1891 and quickly became a symbol of the early 1900s oil boom when wildcatter Thomas B. Slick brought in a gusher east of town. Today, Cushing’s legacy continues as the “pipeline crossroads of the world,” with more than 1.5 million barrels a day passing through the town’s storage tanks and pipelines.
One of the smallest towns on this list, Fairmont was founded as part of Patterson Township in 1893. While the town has always been a strong agricultural producer, petroleum began bolstering the town’s economy in 1916. A refinery, later acquired by the Champlin Refining Company, was built near the city in 1925.
This town was founded in 1892. In 1915, the town’s growth was kick-started by an oil and natural gas discovery that boosted the population to more than 500 by 1930. That growth has continued with the success of nearby cities, Sapulpa and Tulsa.
Founded in 1899, Nowata quickly became a hub for oil and natural gas with petroleum discoveries beginning in 1904. These finds established Nowata as the world’s largest shallow oilfield, with wells that continued to produce into the twenty-first century.
The largest city in Oklahoma is actually located smack dab in the middle of an active oil field, so it’s no surprise that the city’s largest economic sector is oil and natural gas. Founded in 1889 at the height of the land run, oil and gas were first discovered in Oklahoma City in 1928. It has been a major hub for the industry ever since.
Founded in 1868, Okmulgee has been the capital of the Muscogee Nation since the Civil War. Oil was discovered in the Morris and Lucky oil pools in 1907, bringing an economic boon to the area, along with job opportunities at foundries and machine shops.
Founded in 1906, this town experienced a major oil boom in the 1920s that increased the population from about 800 to more than 30,000. The Greater Seminole Field is cited as one of the most important oil fields ever discovered, and is still producing today.
This fast-growing city isn’t called the Oil Capital of the World for nothing. The city was founded between 1828 and 1836, and has remained one of the most important hubs in American energy ever since. The city is home to many international oil and natural gas companies, including Williams Companies, Laredo Petroleum and Helmerich & Payne.
This city was founded in 1866 as the capital of the Seminole Nation, which remains there today. In 1923, oil was discovered in the Seminole Oil Fields, which for decades became the largest supplier of oil anywhere in the world. With the success of the oil companies came a population increase, which for some time made Wewoka the third-largest city in Oklahoma.
Founded almost overnight in 1921, Whizbang became one of the rowdiest oil field towns in Oklahoma’s history, with a peak population of 10,000 people and 300 businesses. Today, all that remains of Whizbang is a few sidewalks and building foundations.