The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 12, 2011

Museum opens door to the past

By Kasey Fowler, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

KINGFISHER — Chisholm Trail Museum’s mission is to present and preserve artifacts from the historic Chisholm Cattle Trail, American Indian culture, indigenous wildlife, early farming and ranching and anything else touching those aspects of northwest Oklahoma.

The Chisholm Trail once was the most notorious cattle trail in the nation. The trail served as a pathway leading cattle north to Kansas railheads to be shipped to the other parts of the country. The main portion of the trail ran along what is now U.S. 81.

“The museum is located right on the trail,” said Ginger Murphy, historical interpreter.

Cattle were first moved over the trail in 1867 and in the next 10 years more than three million head of cattle passed through Oklahoma to Kansas.

The trail was named after Jesse Chisholm, who was a guide and trader.

“We have information about Jesse Chisholm and the freight trail he established that transitioned into the famous cattle trail. He had nothing to do with taking the cattle to the rail heads,” Murphy said.

The museum has a number of exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of history and subjects.

“We have a lot of Native American artifacts,” Murphy said.

The artifacts display the culture and heritage of the 38 tribes of American Indians who made their home in Oklahoma.

The museum houses a wide variety of farming implements, tools and machinery used in this area through the ages.

“We have lots of farm implements from farmers who helped establish this area,” said Murphy. “Kingfisher is known as the ‘buckle of the wheat belt.’”

In the Wildlife Room, there are displays showcasing the many different kinds of animals that make their home on the Oklahoma plains and some of the migratory birds that make their way through the Kingfisher area each year.

The museum displays a number of artifacts and day-to-day items used by the pioneers of the area.

“We have lots of things that belonged to the pioneers who established this area. We have a lot of items that belonged to pioneers who came here from other areas,” Murphy said.

In addition, there is a huge collection of barbed wire and branding irons used to mark ownership of the cattle.

There is a wing that is all about downtown Kingfisher.

“We have a pharmacy. It has lots of things the first pharmacist had,” Murphy said. “We have a lot of items from him. We have his cane collection. We have a general store, a post office and furniture from the land office from Kingfisher. We have an old car that is used in a lot of parades. It is a 1931 Ford Victoria. We have a auditorium with music instruments.”

Those visiting the museum should take time to walk around the village on a rustic wooden sidewalk to see Harmony Church, First Bank of Kingfisher, Grant School and Dalton and Cole cabins, she said.

“They are all original structures moved from their original sites to the museum. Harmony Church was a country church located outside of Hennessey. There have been some weddings in it,” she said. “We have a blacksmith shop. The lumber used to make the shop is over 100 years old.”

Across the street from the museum is Governor Seay Mansion.

“There is some of the original furniture and things from his family. It is beautiful house,” Murphy said.

Admission to the museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, is $2. For information, contact the museum at (405) 375-5176.