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Updated
Apr 30, 2017

 

Minco’s Mystery Structure of 1894

By Marvin Woodworth

Since the Minco Historical Society was formed in January 2003, many surprises about Minco’s history have emerged. Before the Civil War, the equivalent of I-40, the "California Road", ran just south of Minco and later through Minco. We found that Minco was the end of the Chisholm Trail from 1890 to 1892 when Minco became the end of the railroad. The railroad opened its line to Chickasha in 1892, but Minco remained an important cattle drive destination for cattle drives from the west from 1892 to as late as 1914 or even later.. Looking at old pictures of Minco, there were fences around most houses to keep out the cattle drives. One steer rampaged through the old Woodworth house south of the Methodist church, resulting in a quickly built fence completely around a ˝ block. Alex Woodworth, born in 1898, said that as a young child he sat on that sturdy wood fence watching cattle being herded by the Methodist church to the giant stock pens east of the rail road. He saw the herds as an endless sea of cattle coming from the west After the cattle were placed in pens about a mile square, they later were placed in long cattle trains and taken north.

How did the cattle pens of Minco provide those cattle drives with the massive amounts of water that they needed? This remained a mystery to the historical society for years. In about 2007 or so, the granddaughter of Minco’s famed J. B. "Judge" Pope, Nancy Cowan, provided access to copy an old picture from Mr. Pope’s photo collection. It is a view from the early 1890s looking east from the middle of Main Street in front of the present Harris Hardware (formerly Woodworth’s). One can see the original wooden business buildings of Minco’s Main Street, including a locomotive on the tracks. On what appears to be the east side of the tracks on the south side is what appears to be a very large building, all in gray. There is no apparent roof line, but there definitely exists a very large gray or faint colored structure. That remained a mystery structure to the historical society until recently. A lady from Oklahoma City, Debbie Bass, provided copies on Facebook of a giant water tank under construction in Minco. .Finally, after ten years, we now know what the giant mystery structure was, a gigantic water tank. Further, we now know that tank provided massive amounts of vital water to the giant cattle drive herds in the Minco stock pens.

 

Minco stock pens east of the railroad. In the background is where the huge herds were contained, and then were herded into the stock pens in the foreground for loading onto cattle trains headed north.

 

View from the front of Harris Hardware (formerly Woodworth’s) looking east. On the far left is the original bank transported from "old" Union City and used briefly as Minco’s bank. On the right the building with the steeple is the new bank.

 

In the center of this enlarged view is a large square structure in the distance that appears to be on the east side of the tracks. It seems to have no roof line. What is this mysterious structure? By the way, the third false front building from the right, which is higher and lighter colored, is the original Woodworth store.  The man in the vest and white shirt, leaning against a porch post of the Woodworth store, could be a young Mr. Woodworth.

 

Workers constructing the huge water tank in Minco, per information written on the back of the picture provided by Debbie Bass of Oklahoma City. The text says water tower, but the size here is impossible to be Minco’s water tower, and Minco did not have a water tower until the 1920s.

 

Unidentified Sunday afternoon strollers checking out the huge water tank used by Minco’s stock pens. The people at this level of the tank verifies that it is a ground level tank, and not a water tower.

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