History buffs can plan a day-long journey or invest more time to visit the museums in the Lake Eufaula area. Civil War, Eufaula Lake, Cowboy & Rodeo, Native American, and community history are all part of the museum trek.
Honey Springs Battlefield and Visitors Center preserves the history of the largest and most influential Civil War engagement ever to take place in Indian Territory. On a hot, muggy day, just two weeks after the famous Battle of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, July 17, 1863, a total of nine thousand troops converged on a small farming settlement along the Texas Road in Muscogee (Creek) Nation called Honey Springs. These troops, historians believe, represented the most diverse set of individuals and cultures to fight with and against one another, than in any other conflict during the entire Civil War. American Indians fought for both the Union and Confederacy. The First, Second and Third Indian Home Guards fought for the Union. The Indian Brigade, also American Indians, fought for the Confederacy. A first for the Civil War was a group fighting for the Union who were former slaves. The first African Americans to fight in the Civil War were called, The First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The Battlefield and Visitors center is located at 1863 Honey Springs Battlefield Rd, Checotah, OK. This facility is open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 918-473-5572.
Eufaula Area Museum opened in 2017. On display are artifacts of: Eufaula history, including Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Lake Eufaula, early day maps and the community’s rich sports history. Also on the premises is a permanent railroad display, an ongoing project: Our History: Eufaula Transportation Railways and Roads which is partially funded by Oklahoma Humanities. This museum is open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. Email EufaulaMuseum@outlook.com to schedule your visit, admission is free.
Checotah boasts two museums. The Katy Depot featuring an MKT Rail Car and the Heartland Heritage Museum which features Checotah’s rich rodeo history, Checotah heritage and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Culture. Check website for hours or make an appointment 918-473-2070.
Indianola is home to the historic Choate Cabin. It features the history of George Washington Choate, a Choctaw Civil War Soldier, a Tobucksy County sheriff, judge, and the last President of the Choctaw Senate before Oklahoma’s statehood in 1907. This Indian Territory Oklahoma Statehood Settlement celebrated 150 years in 2017 and is open by appointment 773-844-1804.
The Haskell County Historical Society and Museum is located downtown Stigler. One of the most notable buildings there is the American Legion Hut built in 1921, which served as the town’s community center, held events such as: social meetings, political meetings, dances, plays, wrestling and boxing matches and parties. Give them a call 918-967-2161 to find out about their displays and hours.
McAlester has several historical sites to visit. There’s a map that includes 25 sites to visit. Some notable stops include: The Masonic Center known as one of the most beautiful Scottish Rite buildings in the nation, The Castle, built by German Prisoners of World War II, and the Tannehill Family Heirlooms and Gun Museums are among the sites. Call the McAlester Tourism Department to get your copy of the Historical Map and to schedule a visit at: 918-423-9300 ext.4993.
Three Rivers Museum located in Muskogee tells the fascinating story of the development of the Three Rivers region of Oklahoma. As one of the earliest areas west of the Mississippi to be settled, this region has a long and colorful past. Also here is the Midland Valley Railroad Depot which has been restored to its original beauty. Exhibits on local multi-ethnic history fill the passenger and freight areas of the depot and a charming gift shop is housed in the old ticket booth. There’s also a 1940s era diesel switch engine open for visitors to climb aboard and look about. Museum hours are Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.