Durant is a city in Bryan County, Oklahoma, United States and serves as the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The population was 15,856 at the 2010 census. Durant is the principal city of the Durant Micropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 42,416 in 2010. Durant ranks as the second largest city within the Choctaw Nation, following McAlester, and ahead of Poteau. Durant is also part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area, anchoring the northern edge.
Main Street in Durant
City of Magnolias and Gateway to Lake Texoma
Location within the state of Oklahoma
Location in the United States
|Coordinates: 33°59′59″N 96°23′5″W|
|• Mayor||Jerry Tomlinson (D)|
|• Vice Mayor||Chad Hitchcock|
|• City Manager||Tim Rundell|
|• Total||26.8 sq mi (69.3 km2)|
|• Land||26.7 sq mi (69.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2)|
|Elevation||636 ft (194 m)|
|• Density||665/sq mi (256.7/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1092307|
The city was founded by Dixon Durant, a Choctaw who lived in the area, after the MK&T railroad came through the Indian Territory in the early 1870s. It became the county seat of Bryan County in 1907 after Oklahoma statehood.
Durant is home to Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation. The city is officially known as the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma. The city and its micropolitan are a major part of the Texoma region.
The Durant area was once claimed by both Spain and France before officially becoming part of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase and Adams–Onís Treaty. During the 1820s and 1830s the area was designated as part of the Choctaw Nation in the southern Indian Territory. During the Indian removals the Choctaws followed the Choctaw Trail of Tears from their ancestral homeland in Mississippi and Alabama into this area. The Choctaw Nation originally extended from the Mexican border in the west (now part of the Texas panhandle) to the Arkansas Territory in the east, from the Red River in the south to the South Canadian River in the north. In 1855, the Choctaw and Chickasaws formally divided their land into two separate nations, with Durant remaining in Choctaw territory on the east. Chickasaw land extended west to the boundary that would divide Indian Territory from Oklahoma Territory after passage of the Oklahoma Organic Act in 1890.
Pierre Durant and his four sons, all of French-Choctaw origin, made the journey up the Trail of Tears on the way to the southeastern part of the Choctaw Nation in 1832. The brothers, grown, with families of their own, established homesteads from the Arkansas line to Durant. One son, Fisher, married to a full-blood Choctaw, found a beautiful location for a home between Durant's present Eighth and Ninth avenues. At the time of Durant's founding it was located in Blue County of the Choctaw Nation.
Fisher Durant's son Dixon Durant is recognized as the founder of Durant and is honored as its namesake. A minister, businessman and civic leader, Dixon Durant is credited with pastorates in local Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist churches. He established the first store selling general merchandise in 1873, around the time of the 1872 creation of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (Katy Railroad) siding at Durant, which was the initial impetus for establishing the community.
The Missouri-Kansas and Texas Railway (also known as the MKT or "Katy") had already laid a line through the area that would become Durant by November 1882. A wheelless boxcar was parked on the siding there and named "Durant Station". Dixon Durant erected the first building, adjacent to the boxcar, where he opened a general store in 1873. The first post office, also named as Durant Station, opened February 20, 1879, but closed on July 11, 1881. A.E. Fulsom was postmaster. The U.S. Postal Service re-established the post office at the site as Durant on March 8, 1882, dropping the word "station" from the name. Beginning in 1882, the area was simply called Durant.
Further growth of the town was inhibited by its proximity to the larger town of Caddo (also on the Katy line) and the fact that Dixon Durant did not want to sell more of the land he had inherited to non-Indians. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (also known as "SL & SF" or "Frisco") had intended to build an east-west line through Caddo, where it would intersect the Katy. However, the land prices near Caddo had increased rapidly, causing the Frisco to bypass Caddo in favor of Durant.
W.H. Hilton was elected the first mayor of Durant.
A memorable event in Durant's rail history occurred on April 5, 1905. A special southbound Katy train stopped in the city with President Theodore Roosevelt aboard.
In 1895, a fire destroyed the original business district, which had spread along the Katy tracks.
Calvin Institute was opened in 1894, representing the first institute of higher education in the immediate area, which was an outgrowth of Presbyterian mission work among the Choctaw Indian nation. Its success led it being reopened as a larger school, Durant Presbyterian College in 1901, later renamed as Oklahoma Presbyterian College. After statehood became effective on November 16, 1907, the state legislature created the Southeastern State Normal School at Durant, which opened March 6, 1909. This school was renamed Southeastern State Teachers College in 1921, and renamed again in 1974 as the present Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
In 1904, Durant was named in a grand jury instruction as a sundown town where a notice had been posted warning African Americans not to stay after dark.
The Oklahoma Constitutional Convention selected Durant as the county seat for Bryan County, Oklahoma, which would supersede Blue County at statehood. In 1908, a special election ratified this choice over three other candidates for the honor: Bokchito, Blue, and Sterrett (later renamed Calera).
Bryan County was created from Choctaw lands in 1907, the same time as statehood, and was named after William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was nominated three times for President of the United States and at the age of 36 lost to William McKinley. He lost to McKinley again in 1900, and to William H. Taft in 1908. Woodrow Wilson appointed the county's namesake as United States Secretary of State in 1913.
Eleven people were killed in Durant by a tornado in April 1919.
Durant is located in southern Oklahoma, in a region named Texoma, or Texomaland, because of its short distance from Lake Texoma. The city is also part of Choctaw Country formerly Kiamichi Country, and Arbuckle Country. Its geographic coordinates are 33°59′59″N 96°23′5″W (33.999834, −96.384825). It is approximately 14 miles (23 km) north of the Texas border at the Red River. Dallas is about 88 miles (142 km) south of Durant. The north edge of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, in McKinney, is about 58 miles (93 km) to the south.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Durant has a total area of 26.8 square miles (69.3 km2), of which 26.7 square miles (69.2 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.24%, is water.
|Climate data for Durant, Oklahoma|
|Record high °F (°C)||89
|Average high °F (°C)||53
|Average low °F (°C)||31
|Record low °F (°C)||−6
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.2
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||1.2
|Source #1: weather.com|
|Source #2: Weatherbase.com|
As of the census of 2010, there were 15,856 people and 3,651 families residing in the city. The population density was 830 people per square mile (322/km²). There were 7,202 housing units. Nearly three fourths of the city's population (74.7%) self-identified as white, 13.3% self-identified as Native American, and 2.2% self-identified as black or African American. Less than a tenth of the population (7.1%) self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, regardless of race. Individuals of mixed Native American and white heritage accounted for 4.8% of the population. Less than 1% of the population was Asian or Pacific Islander.
There were 6,331 households in the city, of which 26% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. Individuals living alone accounted for 32.9% of households and 25.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22% under the age of 18, 18.6% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.9 years. There were slightly more females (51.4% of the population) than males (48.6%).
The median income for a household in the city was $35,135, and the median income for a family was $41,014. Males working full-time had a median income of $34,040 versus $26,197 for female full-time workers. The per capita income for the city was $18,009. About 21% of families and 28% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35% of those under age 18 and 14% of those age 65 or over.
Durant's daytime population increases to approximately 20,000 people. The city has a pull factor of 1.8–2.1 times its population and was named an All-American City finalist for 2006.
Since 1999, the Durant Economic Development Department, the Durant Industrial Authority and the City of Durant have developed over $600,000,000 in new investments to the city.
Durant currently leads the state in economic development. One of the city's strongest industries is tourism; attractions include Lake Texoma, the Choctaw Casino Resort, and Fort Washita. Manufacturing and distribution are growing industries in Durant with several factories being constructed and planned.
The largest employer in Durant is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, including the Choctaw Nation Headquarters and the Choctaw Casino Resort, which has two Choctaw Travel Plazas, two Choctaw casinos, the Choctaw Inn, and more facilities that are located in the resort. Over 5,400 people work for the Choctaw Nation in Durant. Though the capital of the Choctaw Nation is recognized as being Tuskahoma, the administrative offices are located in Durant.
In 1894, Calvin Institute, a school for Native American youths, was established in Durant. By 1899, it had attracted an enrollment of 300. It was renamed Durant Presbyterian College in 1900 and Oklahoma Presbyterian College in 1910. The support for the school came from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the federal government, and several denominational missionary boards. Because of financial difficulties, the school was closed as a learning institution in the late 1960s. Chief Clark David Gardner established the Choctaw Nation administrative offices at the old Oklahoma Presbyterian College Building in 1975.
In 1976, in cooperation with the Durant Chamber of Commerce and the owners of the buildings, the Red River Valley Historical Association, title was transferred to the federal government. Ceremonies were held August 17, 1976, commemorating the title transfer. Reacquisition of this building allowed centralization of government which permits more effective utilization of personnel in administering current programs and developing future programs. The buildings has been renovated, and administration of many Choctaw programs are headquartered there.
Another important part of Durant's economy is the city's historic central business district and the retail district. In the past few years, downtown Durant has seen growth, renewal projects such as streetscaping, and new businesses arriving. Durant is part of the Main Street Program. The retail district is west of downtown, at the intersection of U.S. 69/75 and U.S. 70, and is Durant's fastest growing area.
Cardinal Glass Industries has a float glass manufacturing facility in western Durant. It became operational in July 2004. This plant is number 20 for Cardinal Glass Industries.
Big Lots has a 1,200,000 sq ft (110,000 m2). distribution center in Durant that began operating in January 2004.
Durant is home to the headquarters of First United Bank, one of the largest privately owned banks in the United States, and First Texoma National Bank. Indian Nation Wholesale, also headquartered in Durant, was the 15th largest wholesaler in the United States as of 2008.
Wal-Mart opened a 195,000-square-foot (18,100 m2) supercenter in Durant in 2003, replacing the older, smaller Wal-Mart that had operated since 1986. Smaller grocery stores in Durant include Green Spray, Save-A-Lot, and Pruett's Grocery Store.
Arts and culture
Durant is home to the annual Magnolia Festival and the Three Valley Museum. The festival is put on by the Durant Chamber of Commerce and Durant Main Street Program the weekend following Memorial Day. It features music, shopping, shows, and two pageants – the Magnolia Pageant and the Choctaw Princess Pageant.
Durant has a "World's Largest Peanut" monument, a title it shares with two other monuments in Texas and Ashburn, Georgia. This monument to the peanut growers in Bryan County is located on the front lawn of Durant's city hall. Dedicated in 1973, it includes a time capsule that contains historic and legal documents, which will be unearthed in the year 2023.
The Three Valley Museum houses historical artifacts of Bryan County. Opened in 1976, it is named for a book about Durant, Queen of the Three Valleys by Henry McCreary, which references the city's location in the middle of the Red, Blue River, and Washita River valleys. The museum's exhibits include an early law office, doctor's office, child's room, parlor, and general store.
The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival is housed on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival is one of the top summer theatre festivals in America. It has made Durant and Southeastern Oklahoma State University a destination for tourists, professional and aspiring actors and theatre artisans.
Although no major sports team is located in Durant, many sporting opportunities are found in the city, including the Durant Multi-Sports Complex, golf, soccer pitches, and baseball fields.
The Durant Multi-Sports Complex is an athletic facility located 2 mi (3 km) southeast of Durant, on Highway 78. The sports complex, dedicated on November 17, 2006, sits on 80 acres (32 ha), with 100 acres (40 ha) undeveloped. It consists of baseball and softball fields, soccer pitchess, and a football stadium/track field. A 17-acre (69,000 m2) lake is under construction, and a walking and biking trail is planned to be built around the lake. The cost of the complex was $7 million.
Parks and recreation
The City of Durant maintains and operates 11 parks totaling more than 251 acres (1.02 km2). They include:
- Durant Multi-Sports Complex
- Dixon Durant Park – formerly Northside Park, or Rocket Park, renamed in honor of the founder of Durant.
- Carl Albert Memorial Park & public pool
- Billy Miller Park
- Schuler Park
- Lake Durant
Less than 15 miles (24 km) away, Lake Texoma has between 8–10 million visitors every year and is the 12th largest lake in the United States, and also one of the largest reservoirs in the country, contributing to Durant's economic and population growth.
Durant is governed by a council-manager form of municipal government. The city manager is the administrative leader of the government and is appointed by the city council. The city's ceremonial head is the mayor, who is a voting member of the council with limited administrative power.
The city manager is Tim Rundel. The current mayor is Oden Grube. The city is divided into four wards with a member of the city council from each. There is also an at-large city council member. The current mayor also represents Ward 1.
Durant is home to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, which has about 5,200 enrolled students. It is the only university in Oklahoma to offer a Master of Science in Aviation and Space. Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers degrees through its Aviation Sciences Institute, the largest aviation program in the state. The main campus in Durant has facilities at the airport to support flight training and facilities on campus to facilitate the management options in business, maintenance, safety, and security. The institute offers the undergraduate management degrees as well as the Master of Science degree in Aerospace Administration & Logistics.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University also offers a doctoral degree, Ed.D., in Applied Educational Studies with the Aviation and Space Science specialization and a Graduate Certificate in Aviation Security.
Career and technical education
Durant is home to the Kiamichi Technology Center, which has eight other locations in southeastern Oklahoma. Kiamichi is part of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
Elementary and secondary
The Durant Independent School District is the largest school district in southeastern Oklahoma and serves approximately 3,100 students. The district includes six schools and includes preschool, primary and secondary education.
Durant is served by a newspaper, The Durant Democrat, formerly The Durant Daily Democrat, which publishes three days each week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Democrat was purchased by Graystone Media Group LLC, a group of local businessmen, in 2018. Graystone Media has also started monthly publications in Kingston, OK and Calera, OK. No television studios are located in the city, but it receives over the air reception from the Sherman-Ada DMA, which happens to have studios in Sherman and Denison, Texas, with branch studios in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The city has an independent cable television and Internet provider called Vyve. On August 26, 2016, Ryan Nazari, an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, created a petition to change the city's name to "Westbrook" because Kevin Durant left the team for the Golden State Warriors that received 1,999 supporters.
The city receives the following stations:
- KTEN Channel 10 – (NBC)
- KTEN DT Channel 10.2 – (The CW Texoma)
- KXII Channel 12 – (CBS)
- KXII DT Channel 12.2 (My Texoma)
- KXII DT Channel 12.3 (Fox Texoma)
- A low-power translator of OETA and its subchannels
Public-access television cable television stations include:
- Durant Public Schools 24-hour station which usually only airs slide shows
- A local classified advertisements with KLBC playing
- Duane Sheriff Ministries
- FBC-TV, which relays FamilyNet and Worship when there are not local church broadcasts
- A NEXRAD station
The city receives the following radio stations:
- KSEO, AM 750, Oldies/Classic Hits
- KLBC, 106.3 FM, "Today's Best Country", the top-rated Oklahoma radio station in the Sherman/Ada DMA and the most listened-to radio station in southeastern Oklahoma, according to a 2008 Arbitron Rating survey
- KBBC. 99.7, "The Buzz" – Hot AC
- KSSU, "POWER 92", a SOSU station aimed at college students
- KZRC, 96.1 "Mix 96" – Hot AC
Durant's KLBC publishes a monthly entertainment guide, The KLBC Buzz. Available online and the print version is distributed to a six-county region of Texoma.
Roads and highways
In a 2006 study by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, an average of about 19,100 vehicles pass Durant's Main Street on U.S. 69/75 every day. Approximately 19,000 vehicles pass under 69/75 on Main Street daily.
The major streets are First Avenue, Southeast 3rd Avenue, South 9th Avenue, Washington Avenue, Radio Road, University Place, 49th Avenue, Choctaw Road, Rodeo Road, West Main Street, East Main Street, University Boulevard, Chuckwa Street, Gail Farrell Drive, and Mockingbird Lane.
There are four exits in Durant from U.S. 69/75, at First Avenue, Washington Avenue, University/Chuckwa (the exit off northbound 69/75 is the only one complete), and Main Street. There are also traffic lights at the intersection of U.S. 69/75 and Choctaw Road south of Durant, where the Choctaw Casino Resort is located.
Durant Regional Airport – Eaker Field, the city's airport, and home to Southeastern Oklahoma State University's Aviation Sciences Institute, was a U.S. Navy auxiliary airfield during World War II. It is named after U.S. Army Air Force General Ira C. Eaker, early commander of the legendary Eighth Air Force in wartime England, who graduated from the university (then known as Southeastern State Teacher's College) in 1917.
Durant is served by a city-owned water plant and sewage treatment center. Residents receive electricity from OG&E And Southeastern Electric Co-op.
The city of Durant, along with southeastern Oklahoma and north Texas, is served by the AllianceHealth Durant. Built in 1987, the medical center replaced the Bryan Memorial Hospital. AllianceHealth Durant is at the heart of Durant's medical district, along with the Durant Medical Complex, Choctaw/Chickasaw Indian Clinic, dentist offices, health clubs, and other medical establishments.
Popular culture references
- The Wendell Baker Story – A reference is made in the 2005 film to Neil King (Owen Wilson)'s mother living "nine miles due south of Durant, Oklahoma."
- All About Steve – In the 2009 film, Sandra Bullock's character, Mary Horowitz, tells her friends "...if I had a car, I could drive through Durant, Oklahoma, where they have the world's largest peanut."
- On the Road with Austin & Santino – Durant was prominently featured in the 2010 episode "Wedding Knots", as the two designers created a wedding dress for a local woman. Local businesses visited include the Choctaw Casino Resort, Bliss Boutique, and Doylene's Fabric Outlet.
- Criminal Minds – In the 2011 episode "Proof," the team of investigators are led to a case in Durant involving two young women who were found murdered and sexually assaulted. While set in Durant, the production never actually filmed any material there. Many locals were critical of the show and its unrealistic portrayal of the city.
- Bonnie & Clyde – In this 2013 mini-series, Durant, Oklahoma is referenced in a newspaper article that appears on screen. It reads "Barrow Gang spotted in Durant, Oklahoma," with a sub-headline reading "Three Businesses Robbed At Gunpoint. Outlaws wanted in multiple states." True to the mini-series' inspiration, this was based upon true events.
Durant has had the honor to be recognized on a national scale on various occasions, regarding famous visitations or other attention. An example of this is as follows:
- On April 5, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Durant on a train, and gave a speech, using the rear of the train as his platform. He later revisited the community in 1910, staying in the downtown Bryan Hotel, while on a hunting trip in the area.
- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the community, speaking on March 20, 1937 for Senior Day at Southeastern Teachers College, as it was known at the time. She spoke at the invitation of the president of the college, Kate Galt Zaneis. Mrs. Roosevelt noted in her diary, "I spoke to a packed auditorium of young people, who proved to be a remarkably good audience." As Mrs. Roosevelt stepped up to speak, the orchestra played "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Mrs. Zaneis said the song was chosen because Mrs. Roosevelt was loved so much. Mrs. Roosevelt received around 2300 people that afternoon. She notes "I rarely do this, but it is also rare for a woman to be a president of a college where there are both men and women students." She also wrote that upon boarding the train to leave town, some of the students waiting at the depot assisted her in loading fifty-four boxes of flowers as gifts to her onto the train.
- In 1953, actor José Ferrer and actress/singer Rosemary Clooney were married in Durant while Jose was performing in the musical Kiss Me, Kate in Dallas.
- On July 15, 2015, President Barack Obama visited the city to address the nation from Durant High School on his "Promised Zone" initiative. In 2014, the President designated five areas in the United States as Promised Zones, including the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The other areas designated were Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Southeastern Kentucky. The initiative was "designed to create jobs and increase economic security by partnering local communities with business." While speaking, he also introduced his ConnectHome initiative, which is designed to open up greater access to the internet for low income households.
- In August 2016, Durant found itself at the unlikely center of controversy after an online petition was created by a citizen of Edmond, Oklahoma suggesting that Durant should be forced to change its name to Westbrook in honor of Russell Westbrook, after Kevin Durant's unpopular departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder. "Ladies and gentleman, the great state of Oklahoma has been betrayed...It is because of this heinous action that I believe the State of Oklahoma has a responsibility to change the name of the City of Durant to Westbrook, the man who is loyal, whom we believe in, and who will lead our team to glory. Yes, it is understood that the city Durant was not named after the evil Kevin Durant, but it is just another hideous reminder of what happened," the petition read. Neither the creator of the petition, nor Kevin Durant had ever visited the community. The news surrounding the petition led to an article by ESPN and later by The New York Times.
- In December 2016, Durant gained national attention again. People published a light-hearted article regarding the Durant Fire Department's annual Christmas Card. The Department had experienced the birth of six babies during the year and decided to feature them in their annual Christmas card. "If you ask many of the fire fighters in Durant, OK what defines them; they will say brotherhood and family. That is why when this small paid department of 33 looked back on the year and saw that 6 of their brothers had newborn babies, it was time to show the public what was at the core of their department."
- Brett Butler, professional baseball player, attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University
- Mike Christian, state representative, attended University of Oklahoma
- Joe Dobson, Major League Baseball pitcher, 1948 American League All-Star, inducted in Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
- Gail Farrell, cast member of The Lawrence Welk Show; Gail Farrell Drive, avenue located on far north side of city, named in her honor in mid-1970s
- Ralph Faudree, mathematician and provost of the University of Memphis
- Billie Letts, author of No. 1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection Where the Heart Is (Warner, 1996), made into 2000 film of the same title; although a Tulsa native, she was an English professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant
- Tracy Letts, playwright and actor, Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award-winning for August: Osage County; the film version starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; in 2012–2013, Letts appeared on Broadway in 50th Anniversary revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, as originally presented by the Steppenwolf Theater Company; he received Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play (Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play) for his performance
- Reba McEntire, recording artist, Grammy Award-winning singer and actress, attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University
- Kirby Minter, retired basketball player, played for Team USA in 1954 FIBA World Championship in Rio de Janeiro
- Dennis Rodman, professional basketball player, attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University
- Robert L. Williams, first Chief Justice of Oklahoma Supreme Court, third Governor of Oklahoma, U.S. district and appellate judge
- Jack Wyatt, host of ABC's Confession (1958–1959), later an Episcopal priest in Durant
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Now in Durant and other towns in the Central District, and for that matter, in Holdenville, Ada and other towns in the territory notices had been posted for the Negroes not to let the sun go down on them in said towns.
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