From its early settlers to today’s charming residents who make this small town a great place to live (and one of the most liveable places in Oklahoma!), Durant has long been championed as one of the coolest towns even before Bryan County came to be.
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But let’s go back in time again. It was one momentous day in November 1872, when the town was first occupied by a family of French-Choctaw descent. Fisher Durant settled on this area while the rest of his relatives continued to travel and find other places to homestead. He placed his wheel-less boxcar on the east side of the MKT railway tracks. His son Dixon built a wooden store called “Durant Station”, which became the town’s first building.
The town was officially named Durant in honor of Dixon, who aside from being a businessman, was also a civic leader and a minister. Dixon helped in founding local churches as the community started growing. From its first census count of 2,969 people in the year 1900, Durant became the fastest developing rural town in Oklahoma (by 2016, the population grew over 17,000).
Durant started as a prime location for commerce and agriculture. It was a feasible spot for the pioneers as the nearby railroad served as the gateway for selling their produce. Peanuts, wheat, cotton, and cattle boosted Durant’s economy.
What was once an untamed land became a bustling town full of wagons and horse-drawn carriages. Streetcars lined the unpaved roads on the downtown. Soon, the influx of people from other nearby towns gave birth to more industries.
By the 1900s, Durant was almost complete with a post office, ice plant, churches, hotels, several grocery stores, a military post (1842 -Fort Washita), a local newspaper (1901 -Durant Daily News, now Durant Daily Democrat) and schools (1894- Calvin Institute later renamed as Durant Presbyterian College, 1909- Southeastern State Normal School, now Southeastern Oklahoma State University, 1919- Durant High School, now Durant Middle School).
The small schoolhouses soon became stone buildings and the humble prairie homesteads became family sized cottages as the townspeople continued to improve their way of living. Farming was the leading source of income and Durant became one of the top peanut growers in America. Cotton gins were also abundant, as the nearby rivers Washita, Blue River, and Red River made the lands fertile.
On September 1943, an auxiliary airfield was established on the west side of the town. It was used by the U.S. Navy during the World War II. Formerly named Durant Municipal Airport, it is now known as the Durant Regional Airport – Eaker Field.
Another noteworthy year was in 1987 when the Choctaw Nation added another venture that further strengthened its local economy. The farming tribe built the Choctaw Casino Bingo in Durant. This was the first of the chain’s expanding gaming franchise that paved the way for what is now known as the Choctaw Casinos and Resorts. It became Durant’s premier tourist destination which also benefits the present local development programs.
Manufacturing plants and other business have begun pouring in, contributing to Durant’s flourishing economy. Now, the town is home to some of the best schools, employers, and entertainment centers in the country. People from all across the region are realizing that Durant is a great place to call home, just like what its early settlers have envisioned it to be.
Take this opportunity to live in a wonderful town, community and destination. Let me help you find the perfect home in Durant, OK. Call me or send a message to my email so we can find your perfect home today.
Brian A. Allen is a new Realtor and is full of energy, excitement and zeal for every sale. He spent most of his career in marketing and now applies that skill set to the homes his clients want to sell. Click here to learn more about Brian A. Allen