Panola, Oklahoma is a small town located in Latimer County, and though it may seem quiet and unassuming, it has a rich and fascinating history. Throughout the years, numerous historical events have taken place in and around the Panola area, ranging from natural disasters to cultural and political milestones. Here are seven notable historical events that have taken place near Panola, Oklahoma.
1. The Trail of Tears – Starting in 1838, the Trail of Tears was a forced relocation of Native American tribes from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory. One of the routes taken by the Cherokee was through the area that would become Panola, Oklahoma. Many Cherokee died during the arduous journey, and the Trail of Tears remains a somber reminder of the mistreatment of Native Americans in the United States.
2. The Civil War – Though Oklahoma was not a state during the Civil War, the region was still affected by the conflict. The Battle of Perryville was fought just a few miles west of Panola in 1864, and skirmishes occurred throughout the area. Additionally, many Native American tribes in the region were divided in their support of the Confederacy.
3. The Great Depression – The 1930s were a difficult time for many Americans, and Oklahoma was no exception. Hard-hit by drought and economic downturns, many families in the area struggled to make ends meet. The Works Progress Administration and other New Deal programs brought jobs and relief to Oklahoma, though it would take years for the region to fully recover.
4. The Oil Boom – Starting in the early 1900s, Panola and surrounding areas experienced an oil boom that transformed the region. Oil wells were drilled throughout the area, bringing newfound wealth and prosperity. This boom also led to a significant increase in population as people from around the country flocked to Oklahoma to work in the oil industry.
5. The Heavener Runestone – In 1923, a farmer in nearby Le Flore County discovered a large stone featuring ancient Norse writing. The Heavener Runestone remains a mystery to this day, with some suggesting it is evidence of early Norse exploration in Oklahoma.
6. The Murrah Building bombing – Though Oklahoma City is over 100 miles from Panola, the impact of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was felt throughout the entire state. Many residents of the area traveled to the city to offer assistance and support following the tragedy.
7. The COVID-19 pandemic – Though it is still ongoing, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Oklahoma and the United States as a whole. Panola and surrounding areas have had to adjust to restrictions and safety measures in order to combat the spread of the virus.
These seven historical events illustrate the diverse and intriguing history of the Panola area. From Native American displacement to oil booms and mysterious artifacts, the region has seen its share of triumphs and tragedies. While the past cannot be changed, it is important to remember and honor those who came before us and to learn from their experiences as we move forward into the future.
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