to Altus, Oklahoma.
Located at the intersection of U.S.
Highways 62 and 283, Altus is the county seat of Jackson County,
which was originally part of Old Greer County.
Altus has continued to grow as an
economic and medical hub of southwest Oklahoma. Since 1942 Altus
Air Force Base has been the city's economic cornerstone.
Other major employers include Altus
Athletic Manufacturing, Luscombe Aircraft Manufacturing,
Republic Gypsum, Jackson County Memorial Hospital, and Bar-S
Foods Company. The Lugert-Altus Irrigation District, completed
in 1947-48, furnishes water to the local agricultural area,
where wheat, cotton, and grain sorghum are grown. Public
education is provided through nine schools, with 482 employees
and 4,198 students. The Southwest Technology Center has an
enrollment of 5,772 in day and evening classes. Higher education
is available at Western Oklahoma State College.
Altus is a Main Street community. In
1955 it was chosen as an All American City with the slogan "A
City with a Future to Share." Population peaked at 23,302 in
1970. At the turn of the twenty-first century Altus, home to the
Museum of the Western Prairie, had 21,447 residents, seven
banks, and forty-three churches. The city maintained an
aldermanic form of government.
Following the Civil War, cattlemen
seeking a shorter route to northern markets used the Great
Western Trail near the future town. Altus was originally known
as Frazer, a small settlement of approximately fifty people
located on Bitter Creek. Cowboys often stopped for cold
buttermilk at the John McClearan dugout, and Frazer became known
locally as Buttermilk Station. The Frazer post office was
established on February 18, 1886.
On June 4, 1891, a flash flood
almost destroyed Frazer. Residents moved two-and-one-half miles
east to higher ground, and W. R. Baucum suggested renaming the
town Altus, a Latin word meaning "high." From July 10, 1901, to
May 14, 1904, Altus was called Leger, the name of a railroad
official's father-in-law. At 1907 statehood Altus had 1,927
residents. In 1908 a spirited campaign arose between Olustee and
Altus for the county seat. Altus won with 2,077 votes, as
opposed to 1,365 votes for Olustee. The Jackson County
Courthouse (listed in the National Register of Historic Places,
NR 84003064) was built in 1910. Early-day newspapers included
the Oklahoma Democrat (daily and weekly), the Altus
Times (weekly), and the Altus Weekly News.
Railroads brought prosperity to the
area. In 1908 the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway
(acquired by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1929)
built a line through Altus. The Altus, Wichita Falls and Hollis
Railway (which became the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway
in 1911, acquired by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway in
1922) constructed a line from Altus to the Oklahoma-Texas
border. By 1930 Altus was a major regional agricultural trade
and distribution center with eight cotton gins, two cotton
compresses, and eighteen wholesale businesses. During the 1930s
Works Progress Administration building projects included a
National Guard armory, a city hall, and a public library.