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Woody Guthrie, a folk singer and songwriter, was born in Oklahoma and wrote many songs about the struggles of farmers and migrant workers during the Great Depression. His most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land," has become a kind of unofficial anthem of the United States.
Beckham County, located in southwestern Oklahoma, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. Before European settlers arrived, the area was home to various Native American tribes, including the Cheyenne and Arapaho. These tribes hunted bison and relied on farming for sustenance.

The county was officially established on July 16, 1907, as part of the Oklahoma Territory. It was named after J.C.W. Beckham, a former governor of Kentucky. The county's economy was primarily agricultural, with cotton being the main cash crop. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s brought economic hardship to Beckham County, as crop prices plummeted and many farmers struggled to make a living.

During World War II, Beckham County played a significant role in the defense effort. The Altus Army Airfield, now known as Altus Air Force Base, was established in 1942. The base served as a training facility for pilot cadets, and its presence revitalized the county's economy. After the war, the military continued to be an important economic driver for the county.

In recent years, Beckham County has seen a significant shift in its economic profile. While agriculture remains important, the county has also embraced other industries, such as energy and tourism. The region is rich in oil and natural gas reserves, and drilling activities have contributed to its economic growth. Additionally, attractions such as Quartz Mountain Nature Park and Lake Altus-Lugert have made the county a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Today, Beckham County is a thriving community that combines a proud agricultural heritage with a diverse economy. Its history is documented through various museums and historical sites, preserving the legacy of its Native American roots, pioneer settlers, and military contributions.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Beckham County, Oklahoma.

  • 1907 - Beckham County is established as part of the Oklahoma Territory.
  • 1908 - The town of Sayre is founded as the county seat of Beckham County.
  • 1910 - The population of Beckham County is approximately 8,000.
  • 1928 - The first oil well is drilled in Beckham County, leading to an oil boom and increased prosperity.
  • 1930s - The Dust Bowl and Great Depression hit Beckham County hard, causing widespread poverty and agricultural decline.
  • 1940s - Beckham County experiences a post-war economic boom with the expansion of the oil and gas industry.
  • 1950s - The county population reaches its peak at over 20,000 residents.
  • 1980s - The oil industry experiences a downturn, leading to economic challenges for Beckham County.
  • 1997 - Elk City becomes the largest city in Beckham County, surpassing Sayre in population.
  • 2000s - Beckham County sees continued growth in industries such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing.