A truly American past, an intriguing present, and an exciting future – that’s Tonkawa, Oklahoma! Our community spirit, and can-do attitude comes from our rich history that includes Native Americans, hardy pioneers, visionary educators, creative citizens, legendary oilmen, and German prisoners of war. Each has left an indelible mark, and helped shape our city, located on the Salt Fork River just east of I-35.
Our Past - A Brief History of Tonkawa
The city, founded following the historic Oklahoma Land Run of 1893, was incorporated in 1894. Originating from the Tonkawa Tribe's language, Tonkawa means, "They all stay together". The Tonkawa Tribe still holds their annual Pow-Wow in July just east of town at the Fort Oakland Reservation. The City of Tonkawa experienced steady growth until 1921 when the population exploded almost overnight to due to the discovery of the Three Sands Oil Field just south of town, becoming known as the "Billion Dollar Spot" and producing more than sixty million barrels of oil. Although the Oil Boom was short-lived, petroleum and natural gas still play an important role in Kay County's economy today. During World War II, Tonkawa was the site of a P.O.W. Camp. The camp housed over three thousand prisoners and Army personnel. Today, it has been developed into industrial sites as well as residential properties.
Our Present and Our Future
Known as the “Wheatheart of Oklahoma”, Tonkawa is the midpoint of America on I-35. Stop in at one of our convenient truck stops, enjoy fine and unique dining, and casino experiences, and then take a right turn for a short drive into town. On the way, you’ll see our Industrial Park. On Main Street, you'll find convenience and grocery stores, veterinary services, and our beautiful, updated Blinn Park. A pleasant drive into downtown Tonkawa will offer you a variety of dining, shopping, and one of a kind arty adventures, including our Heart in the Park. Come see what Tonkawa has to offer--you'll be glad you did!
Welcome to Tonkawa! A little town with a BIG heart!