The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 7, 2012

Wheat, oil and ... chickens?

Agriculture, energy have large roles in Enid’s past

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Oil and agriculture have played major roles in the development of Enid and northwest Oklahoma since land opened in 1893.


When farmers first settled in the Enid area and its surroundings, they planted a variety of crops such as corn, grain and sorghum. Soon they found wheat, particularly winter wheat, grew best.

By 1900, seven years before statehood, northwest Oklahoma produced more than 10 million bushels of wheat.

In 1914, Garfield County farms produced more than 6 million bushels of wheat and were setting records by 1919, when wheat rose to $2.19 per bushel.

Enid’s terminal elevators were constructed between 1925 and 1955 and had the capacity to hold half of the entire state’s wheat production. From 1926 to 1930, Enid’s grain storage capacity grew from 248,000 bushels to eight million.

In the early 1910s, Enid also boomed in poultry production. Companies such as Swift & Co. and Enid Poultry Co. were large suppliers. Money earned from distribution of chickens, turkeys and eggs was substantially more in northwest Oklahoma than other parts of the state.

A 1930 pamphlet published by Enid Chamber of Commerce said: “Enid is the largest poultry market in the United States.”

Crude beginnings

Oil production undoubtedly has been an important part of history in northwest Oklahoma, almost as long as Oklahoma has been a state.

In 1916, Garber Oil Field was discovered, with its prime years from 1916 to 1930. The field’s production peaked in 1926 with 10,920,000 barrels of crude.

By 1919, the city of Enid had four refineries, with H.H. Champlin building the city’s first in 1917. Just two years later, oil prices set records at $2.01 per barrel. By the time H.H. Champlin died in 1944, his oil company employed more than 800 people in Enid.

According to a 1930 Chamber of Commerce publication, the Tonkawa District had produced a million barrels of oil by 1930, and the Billings Field, 30 miles from Enid, was showing steady growth.

Lew Ward, founder of Enid-based Ward Petroleum, drilled his first well in the Sooner Trend, near Enid in 1963. Since that year, Ward Petroleum has drilled or participated in the production of more than 1,000 wells.

As of 2007, Oklahoma’s oil and gas firms employed more than 76,000 workers with an income of $8.9 billion. Each job in the industry supports 3.2 jobs in the wider economy.

Information provided by Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid.