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Oklahoma Description

May 20, 2013 A powerful F5 tornado struck the city of Moore, Oklahoma leaving 24 confirmed dead (including school children) and hundreds of people injured in its path. The financial impact of the tornado and the extensive property destruction is expected to exceed $US2 billion.

Did You Know? The city of Moore, Oklahoma was also damaged by significant tornadoes on October 4, 1998, May 3, 1999, May 8, 2003, May 10, 2010, and on May 20, 2013. The May 3, 1999 tornado that hit Moore was rated an F5 on the Fujita scale, and was one of the strongest (Probably the strongest single tornado ever) and most destructive tornadoes in world history.

The tornado, which occurred during the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak, had an approximate recorded wind speed of 320 mph (510 km/h), the highest speed on the first F-Scale, left a swath of destruction over 1 mile (1.6 km) wide at times, and 38 miles (60 km) long. It killed a total of 36 people in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

This was the deadliest F5 tornado recorded since the Delhi, Louisiana tornado in 1971 although several tornadoes from 2011 eclipsed this mark, today's tornado may change that statistic. We can only hope for the best.

Oklahoma was home to Native American Indians long before European explorers arrived, and one look at Oklahoma's flag - and the state's significant part in the history of American Indians becomes quickly apparent.

hernando de soto And speaking of Europeans, Spanish explorers Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Hernando DeSoto (in search of gold and other treasures) arrived in 1541.

In the late 17th century, the French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle boldly claimed all of the land drained by Mississippi River for France; then named it the "Louisiana Territory" in honor of his King, Louis XIV.

The French continued to develop their claims in the Americas, much to the dismay of the long-established Spanish, and for the next century this valuable land was alternately controlled by both countries.

In 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte's armies moved across Europe, pressing Spain into a corner, the Territory of Louisiana (New Orleans) and a huge slice of land in the now central United States (including Oklahoma) was ceded to France by Spain via a treaty.

bonaparte In 1803, with war pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a transaction named the Louisiana Purchase and the United States doubled in size almost overnight.

As settlers from America's eastern cities spread west, this land we now call Oklahoma remained (for the most part) the domain of Indians because of its isolated geographical position. Then, in the early 19th century, the U.S. Government saw an opportunity to use this Indian Territory as a potential long-term home for southern Indians, and over time they literally forced those Indians to migrate there.

History records this shameful part of America's history, and especially the infamous migration known as the "Trail of Tears." Cherokee Indians, as well as Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes (and others) were forced to migrate here, and countless Indians perished during their rigorous journey.

indian territory The Oklahoma area was then officially established as Indian Territory and the tribes began to settle in; they farmed the land, raised their families, and for the most part lived in peace, as treaties kept white pioneers out of their new homeland for a brief moment in time.

Then America's Civil War, cattle drives moving north from Texas, and railroad expansion quickly changed the Indian's status quo; land greed took control as settlers (ignoring treaties) moved in. In 1890, the U.S. Congress established the Territory of Oklahoma, and eventually Indian holdings were greatly reduced - basically stolen. In 1907, the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were united to form the State of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma (today) has the largest Indian population in the U.S., as over 60 tribes call it home; Apache Indian Chief Geronimo is buried here, and across its land the art and artifacts of a culture (not forgotten) are reflected in numerous historic sites and museums dedicated to the spirit of the American Indian.

Today, after surviving the severe drought and depression of the 1930s, Oklahoma is a wonderful mix of modern cities, small towns, cattle ranches and farms, and the fascinating, touchable cultures of a day gone by.

In 1995, when a terrorist bomb killed 168 people in Oklahoma City, the world took note. Through the mourning and the tears Oklahoma and its resilient people stood tall, as they truly personify the enduring spirit of the United States of America.

Oklahoma Photographs


moore oklahoma tornado

May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma Tornado

1999 tonado moore oklahoma

The May 3, 1999 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma; possibly the strongest single tornado ever.

oklahoma sign

Oklahoma State Welcome Sign

oklahoma city

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Stilwell Adair 918
Cherokee Alfalfa 580
Atoka Atoka 580
Beaver Beaver 580
Elk City Beckham 580
Watonga Blaine 580
Durant Bryan 580
Anadarko Caddo 405
Yukon Canadian 405
Ardmore Carter 580
Tahlequah Cherokee 918
Hugo Choctaw 580
Boise City Cimarron 580
Norman Cleveland 405
Coalgate Coal 580
Lawton Comanche 580
Walters Cotton 580
Vinita Craig 918
Sapulpa Creek 918
Weatherford Custer 580
Grove Delaware 918
Vici Dewey 580
Shattuck Ellis 580
Enid Garfield 580
Pauls Valley Garvin 405
Chickasha Grady 405
Medford Grant 580
Mangum Greer 580
Hollis Harmon 580
Laverne Harper 580
Stigler Haskell 918
Holdenville Hughes 405
Altus Jackson 580
Waurika Jefferson 580
Tishomingo Johnston 580
Ponca City Kay 580
Kingfisher Kingfisher 405
Hobart Kiowa 580
Wilburton Latimer 918
Poteau Leflore 918
Chandler Lincoln 405
Guthrie Logan 405
Marietta Love 580
Fairview Major 580
Madill Marshall 580
Pryor Mayes 918
Blanchard McClain 405
Broken Bow McCurtain 580
Checotah McIntosh 918
Sulphur Murray 580
Muskogee Muskogee 918
Perry Noble 580
Nowata Nowata 918
Okemah Okfuskee 918
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 405
Edmond Oklahoma 405
Okmulgee Okmulgee 918
Skiatook Osage 918
Miami Ottawa 918
Cleveland Pawnee 918
Stillwater Payne 405
McAlester Pittsburg 918
Ada Pontotoc 580
Shawnee Pottawatomie 405
Antlers Pushmataha 580
Cheyenne Roger Mills 580
Claremore Rogers 918
Seminole Seminole 405
Sallisaw Sequoyah 918
Duncan Stephens 580
Guymon Texas 580
Frederick Tillman 580
Tulsa Tulsa 918
Broken Arrow Wagoner 918
Bartlesville Washington 918
Cordell Washita 580
Alva Woods 580
Woodward Woodward 580

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 10, 2020.