Visit Oklahoma's First State Capital—Guthrie

Visit Oklahoma's First State Capital—Guthrie

On the morning of April 22, 1889, Guthrie, OK, was still just a dusty prairie stop known as Deer Creek on the AT&SF Railroad in the Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory. By the same evening, it had become a tent city with approximately 10,000 residents.

The new residents were part of some 50,000 settlers, participating in the first of five Oklahoma Territory land rushes. The settlers seeking “free land” raced each other on horseback and in wagons to be first to stake a claim on 160 acres of land or a lot in a designated townsite.

This free-for-all method of land distribution often resulted in fatal accidents, armed disputes, and illegal claims by “Sooners,” who broke the rules by hiding out well ahead of the official starting point.

Within months, Guthrie became a brick-and-stone city with municipal water and electricity, a mass transit system, and underground parking garages for horses and carriages. Earning the nickname Queen of the Prairie, it resembled a well-established East Coast city.

Almost immediately after the land run of 1889, Guthrie was designated the capital of the Oklahoma Territory and it became state capital from 1907 to 1910. During this period, Guthrie grew rapidly, adding banks, newspapers, and commercial enterprises.

And then the state capital was moved to Oklahoma City in 1911.

After Guthrie lost its state capital status, the city entered a period of slow economic decline. It was possibly the town’s stagnated growth, however, that averted “urban renewal” type destruction of most of its historical Victorian-style structures.

Guthrie Today

Today, Guthrie has over 2,000 buildings in its historic district, which include museums, bed-and-breakfasts, a theater, antique shops, restaurants, and festival venues. Guthrie’s historical downtown area is a strong draw for nearby Oklahoma City residents and for us motorcycle vagabonds who sometimes need a 21st-century getaway.

Guthrie’s streets, lined with historical buildings, have been featured in several movies, including Rainman, Twister, The Killer Inside Me, Rudderless, and Elizabethtown.

Ten of the top things to do while you’re in town include:

  1. Solve a murder mystery at the Stone Lion Inn.
  2. Peruse the collection of violins, vintage guitars and banjos at the Double Drop Fiddle Shop.
  3. Get spooked on the 90-minute Guthrie Ghost Walk, which starts at the Apothecary Garden.
  4. Shop till you drop at the downtown collection of galleries, antique stores, and gift and craft shops.
  5. Tour the Guthrie Scottish Rite, which is one of the largest Masonic Temples worldwide.
  6. Check out some of Oklahoma’s most well-known athletes at the Territorial Capital Sports Museum.
  7. Learn about frontier medicine at the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum and Apothecary Garden.
  8. Attend a live performance at the Pollard Theatre.
  9. Learn state history at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library, housed in the 1902 Renaissance Revival building.
  10. Watch street performers re-enact an Old West gunfights on Saturdays.

Facts & Info

Nearby Attractions

Nearby Roads

Get your kicks on a surviving section of Historic Route 66. From Guthrie, follow I-35 south about 13 miles and exit at Route 66 east. Follow the Old Mother Road to several Route 66 icons, including Arcadia’s Round Barn, the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum in Warwick, the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler, and have lunch at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, which helped inspire the Pixar movie Cars.

Lodging: The Dominion House

The Dominion House is a hotel, restaurant, and events center that exudes the style and elegance from the 1920s. This classic Revival-style structure, which was originally the Masonic Children’s Home, is ensconced on picturesque, landscaped grounds.

It’s a 21st-century hotel that is fully updated with modern conveniences. The hotel offers 14 luxurious, uniquely styled rooms, some of which have fireplaces and clawfoot bathtubs. Each room includes a complimentary breakfast, a flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi.

Lodging: Hampton Inn & Suites

Conveniently located just off of I-35 near the Guthrie exit, this hotel is in close proximity to Guthrie and has ready access to points farther south via the Interstate, including SR 66 and Oklahoma City. In-room amenities include Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, mini fridges, and coffee makers.

Guests also have the option of renting a suite with living areas, pull-out sofas, and wet bars. There is also guest access to an indoor pool, a fitness room, a 24-hour convenience store, and a coin-operated laundry.

Best Time to Travel

As many already know, Oklahoma is located in the Wild West of weather, also known as Tornado Alley. Severe weather is most likely in springtime and early summer, which is also when temperatures are usually moderate. Summers are hot and often humid, but fall is usually an excellent time to travel in Oklahoma.