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DEER CREEK

Grant Co., OKLAHOMA

by

Gary B. Speck

 

THE HOT OKLAHOMA SUN beats down on the battered, sagging, wooden canopy in front of the long-closed Deer Creek General Store.  Weeds and grass overrun brick sidewalks underneath sagging canopies.  Unreadable advertisements flake off of weathered brick walls and still glitter on windows on empty buildings lining Deer Creek’s Main Street. Only a few birds and the flapping of the Post Office flag break the ghostly silence.  When founded in 1894, the wheat-farming town of Orie brimmed with promise. Most of the settlers were German Mennonites, many of whom still remain. In 1899, Orie changed its name to Deer Creek after a nearby stream.       

 

In 1930 the town’s population peaked at 312.  Since then it has steadily decreased, to 147 in 2000, and about 128 folks now. Half of those are members of the still-active Mennonite Church.

 

The business district is located about a half mile south of the state highway and stretches a couple blocks.  It is composed of a collection of unoccupied buildings, vacant spaces and the still operating post office, three churches, school, Deer Creek Town Hall & Fire Department and the Clyde Co-Op Deer Creek Elevator.  Remains of the “good-ole days” include: another church, and along the west side of Main Street: the solid brick automobile garage/dealership, a pair of joined two-story brick structures (one of which looks like it may have been a hotel), the Deer Creek Mercantile Company General Store (purveyors of groceries, meats, dry goods, and sundries), a small red false-fronted clothing store, the dark, brown brick Trust Worthy Hardware store and an unidentified, saggy-roofed wooden false-front sleeping under the shade of a huge tree. About half the homes are vacant, and the only activity seems to center around an automobile repair garage/gas station on the state highway.

 

Today, silence reigns in Deer Creek, another slowly fading class D agricultural town in America's Heartland. 

 

It is located 13 miles south of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line, ten miles west of I-35 and 13.5 miles west of Blackwell, 1.8 miles east of the junction of SH 11/74.  A few buildings line SH 11, but the bulk of the town lies about 0.3 miles south of the highway. 

 

LOCATION:

·        Latitude:  36.8058631 / 36° 48’ 21” N

·        Longitude: -97.5194922 / 97° 31’ 10” W

 

 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for February 2010.

 

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FIRST POSTED:  February 02, 2010

LAST UPDATED: March 01, 2010

 

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