Hartshorne, Oklahoma: A Historic Coal-Mining Town

Updated on September 2, 2019
Urbane Chaos profile image

Eric Standridge is a freelance writer with an interest in history. His main focus is writing about Oklahoma.

In Hartshorne, Oklahoma, the Twin Cities Heritage Museum paints a vivid picture of the life of an early coal-mining town. Fantastic artifacts from the early 1900s allow visitors to take a step back in time to when coal was king.

Today, Hartshorne is reminiscent of a typical small-town main-street community. Historic brick shops stand like sentinels along the main street, guarding against the ravages of time. Their architectural details provide a story in themselves, speaking volumes about the men that created them.

While Hartshorne may not be the bustling coal-mining center that it once was, business is still booming among the historic downtown area. What was once a popular theater has since been converted into an auditorium. Antique shops, flower shops, banks and cafés have taken over buildings that held such famous businesses as the Grady Trading Company.

Without coal, the historic city of Hartshorne may have long ago faded into history, but with a colorful past and energetic citizens who care about the future, Hartshorne is sure to remain on maps for another hundred years.

Coal Mining near Hartshorne, Oklahoma
Coal Mining near Hartshorne, Oklahoma

A History of Hartshorne

In the late 1800s, the lands of Indian Territory were still wild and rugged. In 1871, a large group of pioneers settled in the area around Hartshorne and became the first white settlers in the area. Within four years, this settlement grew into a small town. The people who settled here were as wild and rugged as the land itself, and brawls were a common sight.

As railroads moved into the Indian Territory, white man followed, but it wasn’t until an enterprising Civil War veteran moved into the area that the town of Hartshorne really boomed. James Jackson “J. J.” McAlester saw promise in the Indian Territory.

After the Civil War, he met a man who had surveyed the territory before. The man showed McAlester a location that was abundant with coal and even provided the exact locations of the veins. Taking no chances, McAlester quickly purchased the land and a short time later began his coal mining operations. This would begin the reign of coal in Oklahoma, and Hartshorne being only a few miles away, reaped the rewards.

The opening of the coalfields drew thousands of immigrants into the area. Dr. Hartshorne, a wealthy businessman from Pennsylvania, was caught up in the massive migrations.

A short time before Dr. Hartshorne came to Indian Territory, a group of Pennsylvania coal operators and financiers incorporated the Choctaw, Coal and Railway Company. This company, founded in 1887, could mine and market coal while at the same time build and operate railroads. Two years after the founding of this company, Dr. Hartshorne became president of the company. The company was ambitiously laying tracks eastward into Indian Territory and towards J. J. McAlester’s coal operations. With these tracks in place, it was now possible for coal mined in Hartshorn to be shipped all across the company.

During the time that McAlester was experiencing a coal mining boom, Hartshorne became a major economic force in the area. With abundant coal in the region, and easy transportation through a trolley system to McAlester, Hartshorne was both a vibrant and ever-expanding community of immigrants. In fact, Hartshorne could boast of the largest and best-equipped coal mine in the state of Oklahoma. The Rock Island No. 8 featured advancements in the coal mining process that had never been seen before.

From the incorporation of the town on March 1, 1900, until the mid-1920s, Hartshorne remained a vivacious, bustling coal-mining town. Productivity began to decline in 1922, when oil took over many of the functions that coal once had. As coal mines began to produce less coal, people began to move out of the area in search of better jobs. The great depression finally put an end to the coal era, as well as the glory days of historic Hartshorne.

Modern Hartshorne and the Twin Cities Heritage Museum

Through the years, Hartshorne has struggled on. The dedicated residents remained loyal to their town, and today, you can hear their pride when they speak.

In the past few years, the city has made a great comeback. The shops are full, and business is once again booming. Still, the past remains close. Visitors to Hartshorne not only receive a warm welcome, but also get a chance to reflect on times gone by.

The Twin Cities Heritage Museum honors those brave and hard-working men who helped to shape the modern city of Hartshorne. Located right off of the main street, the museum features hundreds of photographs and relics of a time long past. Directing the museum is a wonderfully knowledgeable resident who is full of old stories and interesting trivia.

For those looking for a unique place to visit and learn about coal mining in Oklahoma, Hartshorne provides an excellent glimpse into history.

929 Pennsylvania Avenue, hartshorne, oklahoma:
929 Pennsylvania Ave, Hartshorne, OK 74547, USA

get directions

© 2011 Eric Standridge


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for this very interesting article! I lived in Hartshorne when I was a child and thought it was fascinating to read your article.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)