1903 Gillespie Building in Geary, OK, placed on NRHP in 1989. 2016
Since the month of February was abnormally warm, we picked a nice Saturday afternoon and just went out for a drive. We ended up in the town of Geary, a small town of about 1,200 people forty miles west of Oklahoma City. Not really much there and nothing really to do, but they did have a really nice old downtown with some interesting buildings.
Downtown Geary, OK. 2016
So lets start with a brief history of Geary first- founded in April of 1892 when the first non-Indian settlers were allowed in during the Cheyenne-Arapaho Opening, the town was actually over a mile north of its present location. It was moved south shortly after to meet the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf railroad being built from El Reno. The post office was officially established on October 12, 1892 with the town being named after Edward Guerrier, a U.S. Army scout and interpreter who settled north of the town site. The town grew rapidly with the population getting all the way up to around 2,500. A big boost for the small town came in 1912 when the Postal Highway came through, this later became the original path for Route 66. Unfortunately, Geary’s portion of Route 66 was bypassed in 1934.
Now the town is quiet, not much to do. So why was I there, I wanted to see two places that are on the National Register of Historic Places. The first was hard to miss- The Gillespie Building. Siting on the southeast corner of Main and Highway 281, can’t miss the big red brick building. It was built in 1903 by Ed Gillespie. Originally a bank, it served many other businesses until it became a museum. Unfortunately it looks as though the museum has been closed for a while.
Just a block east on Main Street is the second NRHP location and has to be the most unique, the Public Water Trough. I know it sounds weird right, but this was really a big deal to farmers who came to town. The trough was placed near the railroad depot and grain elevators in 1901. This was at a time when the farmers would bring their product into town by horse-drawn wagons and it was helpful to have somewhere for those horses to get a drink. You really have to think of it as an early gas station. The original trough was wooden with the water pumped from a well close by, but sometime in the 1920’s it was redone with concrete and connected to city water. It was used frequently up until the 1940’s. The city of Geary had four of these troughs around the city and for some reason this was the only one to survive.
Public Water Trough, Geary, OK, placed on NHRP in 1989. 2016
So that was my exciting visit to Geary, I did walk around the small downtown but there were no restaurants and all the businesses were closed. If you ever find yourself in that direction, just take a few minutes to walk around and enjoy the history.
1910 Brake Building in downtown Geary, OK. 2016
Another old building in downtown Geary, OK. Possibly had been a service station or automotive dealership. 2016