Discover the Oldest Town in Oklahoma

Written by Keyana Beamon
Updated: November 9, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Fort Gibson is the oldest town in the state of Oklahoma.
  • A new fort was built in 1846 after the original fort was expanded in 1831 but then faced flooding and malaria risks. It was then rebuilt again and completed in 1890.
  • In 1960, Fort Gibson was recognized as a National Historic landmark.

Oklahoma, like many other states in the U.S., has plenty of history to learn about. Oklahoma is home to the oldest town in the state, known as Fort Gibson. So much history occurred here that visiting this town is more beneficial than trying to read about it.

Oklahoma was the first state to have a telephone, drama theatre, and a school for the blind. Although there are other towns in Oklahoma that are old, Fort Gibson wins the crown because it is the oldest fort in the state and serves multiple purposes.

Fort Gibson is one of Oklahoma’s most interesting historical sites.

Where Is Fort Gibson on a Map?

If you are looking to find Fort Gibson on a map, you can find it towards the easter portion of Oklahoma, about fifty miles westward from the Arkansas border.

Driving from Tulsa, Oklahoma, a driver can reach the Fort in about fifty minutes by driving southeast along Highway 351. Coming from the south, the Fort is just under a four-hour drive from Dallas, Texas.

Approximately nine miles to the west along Highway 62, Fort Gibson is very close to the town center of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Fort Gibson History

Fort Gibson was established in 1824 by Matthew Arbuckle on the east bank of the Grand River. The town served as a peace enforcement between the Osage and Cherokee tribes. These two tribes had issues because the Cherokee tribe moved into the Osages’ territory. Fort Gibson replaced Fort Smith in Arkansas because it was way too far to control these tribes. Fort Gibson also served as a center for trade, travel, and military expeditions.

The fort was expanded in 1831; however, it was flooded and the threat of malaria rose. In 1846, a new fort was constructed overlooking the old fort; however, it was not fully completed until 1890. The new fort included large stone buildings and ten frame ones. Right after the new fort was constructed, it was abandoned and became the headquarters of the Dawes Commission.

Northern Cherokee indian tee pee triangular house

The Osage-Cherokee war was triggered because the Cherokee moved into the Osage territory.


Fort Gibson Today

In 1960, Fort Gibson was designated as a national historic landmark. Today there are seven original structures from where the fort stood and a reconstructed log garrison. The museum here is a good place to visit to understand the history the town went through. If you are hoping to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature, Sequoyah State Park is a beautiful spot to visit and is not as crowded as the other parks in the state. The Fort Gibson Lake also known as “Three Forks” because of the connection with the Arkansas Verdigris and Neosho rivers, is another great spot to revisit history and catch a fish or two!

US flags at veterans memorial cemeteryA big United States flag at half staff and small US flags wave in the wind beside the tombstones at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Muskogee, Oklahoma

There is also a self-guided tour at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery.


The photo featured at the top of this post is © Paul Brady Photography/

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About the Author

Keyana is a licensed veterinary technician who has been working with animals for more than 10 years. She has done a mixture of emergency, preventative, and shelter. She loves to mentor others and has recently started a podcast about the ins and outs of veterinary medicine. In her free time, she love to watch/read anything crime related, tend to her garden, try new foods, work on puzzles, and hangout with friends.

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