50 Facts About Oklahoma State You Need to Know

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A bronze statue of an Indian in front of a white building with a dome and columns
The Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, the state's capital

What facts about Oklahoma state come to mind when you hear its name? Do you think about the tornadoes that frequently occur in the area? What about the musical "Oklahoma?"

There are hundreds of facts about this area of the US that might surprise you. From historic facts to interesting trivia, and even some that will raise the hairs on your arms. There's a lot to learn about this midwestern state!

When you're done with this list, you'll be ready to strike up a conversation with an Oklahoma native. You might even want to plan a trip there for yourself! So, keep reading, here are 50 facts about Oklahoma state you should know.

  • 50 Oklahoma facts

50 Oklahoma State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Oklahoma
    1. The highest point is Black Mesa
    2. Thank Oklahoma for the pecan pie
    3. It's nicknamed the "Sooner State"
    4. The official state mottos is "labor omnia vincit"
    5. People were introduced to the first parking meter
    6. Keep an eye out for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
    7. It has the lower 48's largest Native American population
    8. The state brought us Brad Pitt
    9. There are tons of man-made lakes
    10. Little River is mostly in the mountains
    11. Buffalo are important
    12. Oklahoma City is the capital
    13. There's an official state meal
    14. The Wichita Mountains ended the gold rush
    15. The state fossil is huge
    16. The Red River is unique
  2. Funny Facts About Oklahoma
    1. It's the 35th most densely populated state
    2. Experience the state with theater
    3. It's one of the last states
    4. You can learn about the banjo
    5. It has some terrible roads
    6. Not much fruit is eaten
    7. The state vegetable is a fruit
    8. It used to have the largest peanut
  3. Interesting Facts About Oklahoma
    1. The state produces a lot of natural gas
    2. The state greatly contributed to both World Wars' efforts
    3. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is famous
    4. The Ouachita National Forest is the oldest in the south
    5. The territory is landlocked
    6. Someone made a mistake during WWII
    7. Cimarron County borders four states
    8. You can find the oil capital of the world
    9. Combat aviation was invented here
    10. The name comes from the Choctaw
  4. Scary Facts About Oklahoma
    1. The Dust Bowl devastated the state
    2. The Hex House is haunted
    3. People have seen Bigfoot
    4. Picher is too toxic to live in
    5. The parallel forest is unintentionally eerie
  5. Weird Facts About Oklahoma
    1. There's a pigeon museum
    2. The twist tie was a state invention
    3. Residents heard the first tornado warning
    4. They tested the "yield" sign
    5. There have been a lot of cyclones
    6. Populations boomed overnight
  6. Historical Facts About Oklahoma
    1. The state was also called "Indian Territory"
    2. Native American tribes had to move here
    3. You'll find the Cherokee Nation
    4. Historic Fort Reno helped OK with its statehood
    5. Hernando de Soto was the first in the Oklahoma Territory

Show all

Fun Facts About Oklahoma

Flags and trees in front of a building with a dome and 6 columns
The Oklahoma State Capitol in the state's capital, Oklahoma City

The highest point is Black Mesa

To start this list of Oklahoma facts, did you know that its highest point is 4973 feet? Black Mesa spreads across multiple states: Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Most of the state is relatively flat with low hills, but Black Mesa is the exception.

Thank Oklahoma for the pecan pie

Pecan pie isn't an Oklahoma invention. The first recipes for this dessert can be found in Texas and Missouri cookbooks from the late-1800s.

However, this type of pie didn't gain popularity nationwide until much later. After World War I, the Fields family from Oklahoma began baking pecan pies for their restaurant. They became so popular that they started selling them commercially!

It's nicknamed the "Sooner State"

Every state has a moniker that is used for license plates and tourism marketing. The Oklahoma state nickname is the "Sooner State." That name might sound confusing, but it's historic.

After the American Revolutionary War and Oklahoma was acquired by the USA, people were anxious to be the first to settle the new territory. However, settlers weren't supposed to start their trek before April 1889. The pioneers who decided to ignore this rule and head to Oklahoma early were dubbed "Sooners."

The official state mottos is "labor omnia vincit"

If you come across Oklahoma's state seal, you'll likely see the words "labor omnia vincit" which is the state motto. It's a Latin phrase that means "work conquers all."

The motto is an adaption from a poem. In English, the original quote was "Steady work overcame all things" and was written by Virgil.

People were introduced to the first parking meter

In cities around the world, you'll find parking meters. No matter where you are, they all function the same--you pay a fee to park in a spot for a certain amount of time.

They might be part of daily life now, but the first parking meter invented was installed in Oklahoma City in 1935. It was called Park-O-Meter No. 1.

A bird with white, black, and orange feathers sitting on a wire against a clear sky
The scissor-tailed flycatcher has been Oklahoma's state bird since 1951

Keep an eye out for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Oklahoma state bird isn't only native to the state. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher likes wide open spaces and can be found all over the Great Plains.

However, Oklahoma has always had a soft spot for this bird. It's been a state symbol since 1951. It was on the state's collectible quarter in 2008 and also on the license plates.

It has the lower 48's largest Native American population

Many Oklahoma history facts discuss the state's Native American history. Though there are Native American populations and reservations all over the United States, Oklahoma has the largest population in the lower 48s.

The US state with the largest population of indigenous people is Alaska with almost 20%. Oklahoma is second with 13.39%.

The state brought us Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in the world. Known for his on-screen charm and good looks; he's one of the most sought-after celebrities in Hollywood.

Before he became a movie star, Pitt was a regular, small-town boy from Shawnee, Oklahoma. At that time, he was known by his birth name, William Bradley Pitt.

One of the fun facts about Oklahoma state is it has numerous man-made lakes
The Broken Bow Lake is one of the many artificial lakes in the state

There are tons of man-made lakes

If you visit Oklahoma, you'll be able to find numerous lakes for recreational and industrial use. These lakes look so natural you likely wouldn't guess that many of them are man-made.

The state has over 200 lakes that have been created artificially by dams. An easy way to tell a natural lake from an artificial one in the state is by shape. Oklahoma's natural lakes are all oxbow (curved) or playa (dried).

Little River is mostly in the mountains

Oklahoma may have a lot of man-made lakes, but its rivers are mostly natural. Little River is a unique example of the state's water flows.

Little River's path eventually meets the Mississippi. However, the majority of the area it flows through has mountains and forests in both Oklahoma and Arkansas.

A buffalo grazing on grassland with trees in the back
Buffalo has been the state mammal of Oklahoma since 1972

Buffalo are important

Buffalo has been the Oklahoma state mammal since 1972 due to it's historic roots in the state. The Native Americans who lived in the state depended on the buffalo population for food and fur. Even the first settlers were able to survive thanks to these large animals.

A view of buildings and trees in a city on a sunny day
Buildings in Oklahoma City, the state's capital and largest city

Oklahoma City is the capital

The capital of Oklahoma State is also its largest city. Since 1910, it's been the seat of the state's government, before replacing Guthrie as the capital.

There's an official state meal

An Oklahoma state fact almost no one knows is that there's an official state meal. The meal is made up of all of the favorite foods associated with the state and was made an official symbol in 1988.

The state meal consists of multiple courses. If you order it, you'll get fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.

The Wichita Mountains ended the gold rush

The Wichita mountains cover around 60,000 acres of land that has been virtually untouched by city development.

During the late 1800s, the mountains saw thousands of hopeful miners who wanted to capitalize on the gold rush. Oklahoma's gold rush was one of the last in the country, so the prospectors in the Wichita mountains were among the last.

The state fossil is huge

One of the most fun facts about Oklahoma is that there's an official state fossil. Saurophaganax Maximus has been a state symbol since 2,000.

The skeleton was uncovered in the 1930s by John Willis Stovall. The complete skeleton shows a predatory dinosaur that's larger than any T-rex skeleton ever found.

The Red River is unique

The Oklahoma Red River's name is quite literal. Due to mineral and clay deposits in the soil of the river, the water has a reddish hue as it flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

It's one of the only rivers in the country with this characteristic. This one is also called the Red River of the south to distinguish it from the Red River of the North.

Funny Facts About Oklahoma

A ferry on a canal lined with illuminated buildings and plants on both sides
The Bricktown Canal in Oklahoma City

It's the 35th most densely populated state

With nearly 4 million residents, Oklahoma is the 28th most populated state in the US. However, it's also the 20th largest state by size, which makes that number less impressive.

Calculating those two numbers together, you'll find that there's an average of fewer than 55 people per square mile. That makes Oklahoma the 35th most densely populated state in the country.

Experience the state with theater

Since 1943, theaters around the world have hosted productions of the musical "Oklahoma!" The musical is based on a 1931 play, with a similar storyline.

The story follows a young girl who lives on an Oklahoma farm in 1906. Though the story is primarily a romance, many audiences have been impressed by how authentically the story captures life in the state.

It's one of the last states

Oklahoma may have been a state territory since the 1800s, but it didn't become a state until 1907. Prior to November of that year, the state was divided into the Indian and Oklahoma Territories.

The decision to petition for statehood was made via the Oklahoma resident's votes which then had to be approved by the president. At that time, Oklahoma was the 46th state in the union.

You can learn about the banjo

If you're looking for an interesting way to spend some time in Oklahoma City, consider visiting the city's American Banjo Museum. It's a 21 thousand-square-foot museum with a vast collection of banjos.

The banjo is often considered a purely American instrument since it was invented in colonial North America. The museum celebrates its role in American music genres like folk and jazz.

A road made of reddish soil with grassy fields on either side
Oklahoma has some of the worst roads in the country

It has some terrible roads

Exercise caution if you plan to drive in Oklahoma. According to a national poll, the state is ranked as having some of the worst roads in the country.

Since Oklahoma's soil has a lot of clay, the ground tends to swell when it absorbs water which causes the pavement to crack regularly. However, the state is scarcely populated enough that road conditions aren't always a priority.

Not much fruit is eaten

According to dietary guidelines, you should eat around two cups of fruit every day. When the CDC conducted a nationwide poll, they found that Oklahoma residents didn't tend to follow this guideline.

Only 8% of people in Oklahoma reported eating the recommended amount of fruit regularly. These results make it one of the lowest-ranking places in the country for fruit consumption.

The state vegetable is a fruit

The state may not rank highly for fruit consumption but it still has a state fruit. Since 2005, the strawberry has been Oklahoma's state fruit.

There's also a state vegetable, but it might surprise you. In 2007, the watermelon was named the official symbol of Oklahoma's state vegetable.

It used to have the largest peanut

Durant, Oklahoma is a quiet town in the southern part of the state. The town, however, did see its fair share of visitors for a peculiar reason.

It was the home of the world's largest peanut. Since 1974, there's been a commemorative statue outside city hall to represent the town's peanut industry which had been the largest in the world before being overtaken by China, India, Nigeria, and others.

Interesting Facts About Oklahoma

Ffooter/Depositphotos.com
View of a street with buildings and walls painted with artworks
One of the interesting facts about Oklahoma state is about Tulsa

The state produces a lot of natural gas

Oklahoma is one of the country's largest producers of natural gas. 8.4% of the gas produced in the country comes from this state.

It's also one of the only states to get most of its natural gas reserves from coal found in the area. While the state may be moving away from this type of power, it still relies on it for now.

The state greatly contributed to both World Wars' efforts

The Oklahoma National Guard produced two of the most famous infantry divisions to serve in World War II. The 90th Infantry Division and the 45th Infantry Division were both made up of Oklahoma soldiers.

The 45th Infantry Division is the more famous of the two due to the numerous medals of honor awarded to its soldiers. The 90th Infantry Division is older having engaged in battle in both WW1 and WW2.

rose.mosteller@gmail.com/Depositphotos.com
A steel gate decorated with cowboys and an entrance sign
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum housing wild west artifacts

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is famous

The 'Wild West' is one of the most famous parts of American history. It's inspired countless movies, books, and shows that aim to capture the charm and appeal of life as a cowboy.

In Oklahoma City, you can visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. This museum is world-famous for its extensive collection of 28,000 artifacts originating from the wild west.

View of mountains from behind trees on a foggy morning
The Ouachita National Forest in the west of Oklahoma

The Ouachita National Forest is the oldest in the south

In 1907, President Roosevelt named the Ouachita Forest a national territory. At the time, it was the first national forest in the southern part of the United States and was called the Arkansas National Forest. Since it's not solely in the state of Arkansas and takes up a large portion of west Arkansas, its name was changed in 1926.

The territory is landlocked

Oklahoma has no coastal borders, making it a completely landlocked state. The state shares a state line with New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas.

The state's unique shape is what allows it to border so many other US territories. It's been colloquially referred to as the "panhandle state" because of its state lines.

Someone made a mistake during WWII

One of the most interesting historic facts about the state of Oklahoma revolves around WWII. In Boise City, citizens thought they were under attack by enemy forces for a brief time.

During a routine target practice, a pilot became confused and accidentally bombed the city in July 1943. That event marked the only bomb on continental US soil during WW2.

Cimarron County borders four states

On a map, Cimarron County can be found at the very end of Oklahoma's "panhandle." This little section of the state is just 1840 square miles, but it borders four other states--Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. It's the only county in the country with that many state lines.

You can find the oil capital of the world

In 1901, oil was struck in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Once word of the natural oil wells beneath the area's ground got out, the city's population rapidly increased.

At this time, the city became known as the oil capital of the world. Today, Houston, Texas has earned the title of the center of the oil industry.

Combat aviation was invented here

Fort Sill's territory extends over 90,000 acres of land meant for military service. While it's been open since 1868, 1915 is when it gained fame.

This base is where combat aviation was first invented. At the time, there was no official airfield, but training with the first military pilots began nonetheless.

The name comes from the Choctaw

Since Native American culture and history are deeply rooted in Oklahoma, it's only fair that the state's name would have similar roots. The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw language.

In English, Oklahoma would translate to "red people." The name signifies the native populations that called the state's territory home for thousands of years.

Scary Facts About Oklahoma

Looking up a street with various buildings and trees
Tulsa is home to the Hex House, a haunted home

The Dust Bowl devastated the state

During the 1930s, dust storms ran rampant through the US prairies. Oklahoma was particularly affected by these natural disasters.

The dust devastated the state's crops and caused thousands to leave their homes. The Dust Bowl also, unfortunately, occurred in the middle of the Great Depression which was already causing hardships.

The Hex House is haunted

One of the most interesting Oklahoma facts is also one of the spookiest. In Tulsa, you can visit a home that's been haunted for decades. The Hex House was once the home of Carolann Smith.

Smith managed to repeatedly convince people to give her all their money and was the beneficiary of multiple life insurance policies. It's said the spirits of the people she took advantage of haunt the property.

People have seen Bigfoot

Bigfoot is perhaps the USA's most prominent mythical creature. According to stories, he's a tall animal, similar to an ape, but larger.

There have been reported sightings of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch around the country, including in Oklahoma. One similarity all reports seem to have is that sightings tend to occur in forest areas.

A numbered starting line of a track field with bleachers on its right side
The track field of an abandoned school in Picher, Oklahoma

Picher is too toxic to live in

For over a century, Picher, Oklahoma was a mining town. While the population was never particularly large after its initial boom, it consistently had around 2,000 residents.

Since 2009, the town has been unincorporated and has been largely abandoned since the 1990s. It was found that its water supply was highly contaminated and the ground was prone to sinkholes making it too risky to live there.

The parallel forest is unintentionally eerie

Due to the intense mining in Oklahoma, the state's soil began to erode. If left to continue, eventually the state's land would be too unstable for inhabitants. To combat this, scientists and the state government created what became known as the "parallel forest" near Lawton.

This wooded area consists of redwood trees that have been planted at equal distances from each other to anchor the ground. While the forest succeeded in helping to stabilize the territory's land, it also had the negative side effect of creating an unintentionally eerie landscape for visitors.

Weird Facts About Oklahoma

alizadastudios/Depositphotos.com
A black car parked in front of a store with flags that say "Open"
A car parked in front of commercial stores in Guthrie, Oklahoma

There's a pigeon museum

A list of weird Oklahoma facts wouldn't be complete without mentioning the state's pigeon museum. Since the 1970s, the American Pigeon Museum & Library has aimed to educate visitors about the American pigeon.

These birds may be annoying in some parts of the country due to their insistent nature. However, they're quite intelligent and have played an important role in delivering messages through the years.

The twist tie was a state invention

In 1961, Charles E. Burford was determined to solve a common household problem. At the time, bread that was stored in bags or purchased from the store would rapidly go stale or become moldy due to air exposure.

Farms utilized a wire-tying method to package crops and feed to increase shelf-life. Burford took this concept and invented the first twist tie in Maysville, Oklahoma.

Residents heard the first tornado warning

Tornadoes can be some of the most devastating natural disasters. While they still destroy towns, people are often given a warning when one is approaching so they can seek shelter.

The first tornado warning was issued in 1948 by a Captain in the United States Air Force. They broadcast the warning from the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma to warn the surrounding areas.

They tested the "yield" sign

Drivers everywhere will be interested in this entry of weird facts about Oklahoma. The first "yield" sign was installed in 1950 in Tulsa.

The intersection where the sign was placed was notoriously dangerous as no one knew who had the right of way. After the sign was posted, the number of yearly accidents dropped to zero.

A gray sky with a tornado forming above a vast, green field
A tornado over an Oklahoma town in Tornado Alley

There have been a lot of cyclones

Oklahoma's position in tornado alley makes it a prime spot for cyclones to develop. the state's relatively flat landscape also contributes to this fact, as tornadoes can last longer.

While Oklahoma isn't the state with the largest number of average yearly tornadoes, it's the state with the most per square mile.

Populations boomed overnight

Before the 1889 land run that saw the newly acquired Oklahoma territory open for settlement, very few people lived in the area. Cities were literally built overnight.

The city of Guthrie saw its population grow by 10,000 in a single day. It was the most popular of the new cities, which earned it the title of state capital when Oklahoma first joined the Union.

Historical Facts About Oklahoma

Various tools used in blacksmithing on a porch during the daytime
Blacksmith tools on a porch in a Cherokee village in Tahlequah, Oklahoma

The state was also called "Indian Territory"

Before Oklahoma became a state, part of its land was called "Indian Territory." This was a precursor to modern-day reservations.

After the "Trail of Tears" saw native tribes displaced from their homes in other states, many of them relocated to Oklahoma. The territory served as a sovereign nation that was, theoretically outside US jurisdiction.

Native American tribes had to move here

The "Trail of Tears" is a dark spot in American history. Between 1831 and 1850 an estimated 60,000 Native Americans were forced to leave their homes to facilitate the country's expanding settlements.

The tribes involved were originally from Michigan, Florida, and Louisiana but they were all sent to Oklahoma. Those who survived the journey were required to assimilate with tribes already native to the area.

You'll find the Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation is one of the largest recognized tribes in the United States. Located in Oklahoma, it's also referred to as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Many of the Cherokee who reside in Oklahoma are descendants of the Florida tribes that were relocated to the area in the 1800s. Today the Cherokee Nation spans 14 counties and has 400,000 members.

Historic Fort Reno helped OK with its statehood

One of the state of Oklahoma's interesting facts people often forget is that Fort Reno was essential to Oklahoma's statehood. The fort was an active army cavalry post used between 1874 and 1949.

Becoming a state isn't as simple as merely voting. Many changes to taxes, laws, zoning, and more sometimes have to be made, which can create tension. Fort Reno and the army presence within helped make Oklahoma's transition to statehood a smooth one.

Hernando de Soto was the first in the Oklahoma Territory

Though it wouldn't be properly settled until much later, Hernando de Soto is credited with being the first European in Oklahoma. The Spanish explorer visited the state's territory in the early 1540s.

Until the 1800s, no Europeans are known to have resided permanently in the territory. However, French traders as well as other Spaniards did pass through the area on their journeys.

In Summary

What did you think about this list? You might have already known some things about the "Sooner State", but others such as the state vegetable is a fruit probably surprised you!

Clearly, there's a lot to love about Oklahoma. It's full of history and culture that have helped influence the rest of the country.

Hopefully, this list has helped inspire you to start your own research on this great state. Maybe you'll even take a trip to see it for yourself!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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