Fallis, OK – Ghost Town
Fallis was an unusual little town. Located in a wooded area and “on a long red hill,” it became an agricultural center, a railroad town, and an oil community. More importantly, however, it was the home of five nationally recognized authors plus two well-known state poets. The original natural setting was beautiful, and, as one author noted, it was a source of inspiration. Founded in 1892 at the western edge of the Iowa Reservation, Fallis developed as an agricultural trade center. Cotton was the principal crop, and two cotton gins were in operation. In 1902 the Katy railroad built through Fallis when completing its line from Bartlesville to Oklahoma City. In 1903 the Katy built a line from Fallis to Guthrie. Also in 1903, the tracks of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad from Fort Smith to Guthrie crossed the Katy line at Fallis, making the community a trans-shipment center.
For a while it was believed a roundhouse and repair shops would be located in the town. The first oil well drilled in Lincoln County, in 1904, was near Fallis. Although it was of little importance, it did add income to the community. At the time of statehood Fallis had a population of about 350. Four general stores, a bakery, two lumberyards, two blacksmith shops, three hotels, a bank, two doctors, and four saloons, as well as other businesses, attested to the importance of Fallis as a trade center.
For so small a town to produce, or help to produce, so many well-known authors is remarkable. Blanche Seal Hunt wrote children’s stories, notably the “Little Brown Koko” series which appeared in Household Magazine for more than twenty years. She was a good friend of Beulah Rhodes Overman, a writer of popular and detective short stories. Jenny Harris Oliver was Poet Laureate of Oklahoma in 1940. Her works include several books of poems as well as such short stories as “It Is Morning” and “The Singing Hand of Joe Fitzpatrick? Vingie E. Roe, a close friend of Mrs. Oliver’s,was a writer of western novels, including such books as West of Abilene, Guns of Round Stone Valley, and Dust above the Sage. Her novel Divine Egotist used Fallis for its setting. Aletha Caldwell Conner edited the yearly Anthology of Poetry, written by various Oklahoma authors, during the 1930s. Her most noted novel was Pisces’s Child. Cecil Brown’s most important book of poems, Journey’s End, was published in 1948. Delbert Davis, Poet Laureate of Oklahoma in 1963, has written such poems as “Pipe Dreams,” “The Wild Cat,” and “Evening in the Hills.” Most of these authors knew each other and at times served as critics for one another. Fallis today is, for the most part, in shambles.
The Fort Smith and Western and a part of the Katy railroads have long been abandoned, and the remainder of the Katy tracks are unused. Two remaining brick buildings, which are falling apart, and the old bank vault still stand in the former business district along with the closed post office. The dozen homes remaining give evidence of the town’s demise. Streets are almost impassable, and yards are uncared for and full of weeds. The “wishing well” at the Oliver homestead remains. Koko Knoll, the Hunt homestead, occupies an excellent site, and the view to the east and south could be beautiful. It is the one remaining indicators of the former “golden period” of Fallis.