Rock Island Depot – Elk City
In the center of Elk City, is this abandoned railroad depot for the Rock Island Railroad, which was officially merged out of existence in the late 1970’s. This brick depot is a reminder of the changes in the nation’s transportation needs from the 1800’s when the railroad reigned supreme across the country before giving way to the automobile and the interstate freeway. On August 13, 1901, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (purchased in 1904 by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in 1904) laid its last rail on the so-called “Choctaw Route”, bringing rail access to Elk City. By January 1902, Elk City had more than sixty businesses and a population exceeding 1,000. Paving the streets with bricks also began in 1902. Though not yet a year old, the town had become one of the largest in Western Oklahoma. Even with two devastating fires (one on October 28, 1903, which destroyed more than a dozen businesses, and the other in March 1906 which burned sixteen businesses to the ground), Elk City continued to grow into a major transportation and commercial hub, and by statehood in 1907, the population had more than tripled to 3,000 people.