Location at the confluence of the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand rivers gave Muskogee a unique heritage, said historian Jonita Mullins.
“We’re the only city that I know of in Oklahoma that’s got three rivers here,” she said. “That lent to that town being established here because the rivers were so important for transportation.”
The City of Muskogee will mark that history with a 150th Birthday party from 4 to 6:45 p.m. Saturday at the Hatbox Event Center.
The celebration will feature music from Micheal Rappe and Brandon Bethel. Ahna Jennings and the Palomino Playboys are set to perform at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Mayor Marlon Coleman will read a proclamation to start Saturday’s celebration. There will be free birthday cake and beverages. City of Muskogee spokeswoman Tera Shows said Harmony House will provide 500 birthday cupcakes and Mattie Jane’s will provide cookies. There also will be coffee and cocoa.
The celebration concludes with a fireworks show at 6:45 p.m.
The Saturday party will mark the start of a year of Sesquicentennial celebrations, Shows said.
“We’re going to partner with events such as the Azalea Festival, Balloon Festival and Jeep Jam this year,” Shows said, adding that the city also plans an outdoor rodeo in July, tentatively at Thunderbird Speedway.
Shows said Muskogee’s 150th anniversary is worth celebrating “because it’s such an accomplishment for our community to still be standing and standing strong after that amount of time.”
“It also gives us an opportunity to give back to our residents, she said.
Mullins, who helped the city plan the celebration, said the joining of the three rivers was a good place to locate a primary railroad depot. The first train arrived Jan. 1,1872, she said.
“It was a good transportation hub,” she said. “The railroad — the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad —
named that location Muskogee after the Muscogee (Creek) tribe.”
The station likely was behind where the old Muskogee Hotel is, between Broadway and Court Street by the railroad tracks, Mullins said.
Muskogee also has great Native and Black history, she said.
“Muskogee quickly became the location to place the Union Agency to the Five tribes,” Mullins said.
Muskogee’s Union Agency was established in 1874 to serve agencies for what was called the Five Civilized Tribes — Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole. The native stone building that housed the agency, atop Agency Hill, now houses Five Civilized Tribes Museum.
“That made us a federal town,” Mullins said. “And we’re still a federal town today. The federal government, the VA, is still a major employer.”
The area also attracted Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee Freedmen, she said.
“So we had this great, thriving Black business district, and really a lot of prosperity for African Americans who settled in this area,” she said.
However, some confusion remains about when Muskogee “officially” began.
“Generally, what we look at is January 1, because that was the date that the first train arrived at the depot that would give rise to the city of Muskogee,” Mullins said.
However, some people think the city should count its incorporation date, March 16, 1898, as its origin, she said.
“But the town was established in 1872, so that puts it at 150 years ago,” she said.
If you go
WHAT: Muskogee’s 150th Birthday.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Hatbox Event Center.
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