6 April 2003
A monumental moment in history
One of the most curious incidents in Oklahoma history occurred literally on the first day of Oklahoma history. This was April 22, 1889, and settlement was being opened up in what was then known as Indian Territory, in a manner that was both highly unorthodox and uniquely American: basically, you park on it, you own it. Thousands of quarter-sections and city lots were claimed in the first few hours after the opening gun, and by the next morning, two cities with populations of 10,000 or so, their populations largely housed in quick-and-dirty shacks or hurriedly-pitched tents, stood where there had been nothing more than railroad stops before.
That was the original Oklahoma Land Run, which settled the central part of the eventual 46th state. An event like this seems utterly unimaginable in the not-exactly-freewheeling 21st century, which may explain much about why down in Norman, dozens of cast bronze figures are being assembled for the first-ever Land Run Monument, to be built along the Bricktown canal east of downtown Oklahoma City. Completion will take four years, but the first few figures will be emplaced later this month and will undoubtedly shake up travelers on the Crosstown Expressway.