And here come the Skeleton Station Plainsmen. . . Kind of catchy, right? Believe it or not, Enid was once called Skeleton Station, and to find just how Enid was renamed, one has to wade through a bit of folklore.
The story with the most supporting factors begins in 1856 with none other than an Englishman. Writing narrative poems about the legend of King Arthur, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of Arthur, English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson entitled one of the poems “Enid” in his Idylls of the King, which he published in 1856 and 1885. The character Enid was a beautiful woman, second only in beauty to the fair Guinevere, hence the reason Enid received her own Idylls.
Reading this poem on a railroad trip from Kansas, M.A. Low, vice president and general counsel for Rock Island, arrived in Skeleton Station and took an immediate disliking to the name. After all, who would want to visit a place named Skeleton Station?
With Lord Tennyson’s poetic words fresh in his mind, Low renamed the railroad station Enid after the beautiful woman in Lord Tennyson’s poems, and when local Cherokee Strip historian George Rainey traced the origins of how Enid received its name in the 1930’s, he came to the conclusion that this was the story that held the most fact to the town’s renaming.
However, one can’t discount another tale, this one involving the very pioneers that settled this area. Traversing across the plains, settlers spent hours on the horseback, stopping only to eat and rest at night. Knowing just how much these settlers would enjoy warm food, some innovative men set up a chuck wagon with a sign that read, “DINE”.
Either way, DINE became ENID, and from there, the name just stuck.
One might bring up the fact that if DINE really was upside down,
then the E and D would have been backwards,
but we won’t take all the fun out of this tale.
Now, here the story has its different routes, as one says that wind loosened a nail, which caused the sign to turn upside down, and the other story has mischievous cowboys turning that sign upside down.
No matter the history or story used to explain it, Enid certainly had a most unusual way of receiving its name. If one thing is for certain though, the very people who became its first citizens and its history named Enid. And should we look even further back, before the Land Run, before America had even been discovered, the word Enid derives from Enaid, a character in Welsh mythology referring to soul and life, and there is certainly a lot of soul and life within present-day Enid.
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Today, Enid is the economic, social, medical, political, and educational hub of Northwest Oklahoma. Not only is it the largest retail trade center in the area, serving a customer base of more than 200,000 people throughout Northwest Oklahoma and Southwest Kansas, but its diversified economy continues to provide jobs for the people of the area, and opportunity for future growth.
Oil and agriculture have always been major components of Enid's economy. As the home of both Farmland and Johnston Grain Company, Enid has the third largest grain storage capacity in the world. Garfield County is blessed with fertile land that has long produced outstanding wheat crops, and has contributed to the growth of the expanding cattle industry. Though oil production has seen its peaks and valleys, it is still an industry rich with tradition and potential. Natural gas reserves are also an important staple in Enid's economy, and one that will continue to grow as natural gas becomes recognized for its clean and efficient use.
Far from having a one-dimensional economy, Enid has diversified its industrial base and is the home of both nationally recognized corporations as well as home-grown industries. Food processing, metal fabricating, machine shop industries, and equipment can be found in Enid. Another major staple of the economy is Vance Air Force Base, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Vance is an Undergraduate Pilot Training Base that trains the best pilots in the world . . . those of the United States Air Force. The base is nationally renowned for its efficiency in performing its mission, its cost-effectiveness, and its positive relationship with the community. Through all of the upheavals in the military, Vance Air Force Base has continued its undying dedication to its mission and its excellence in performing it.
Retail trade, services, and health care also play a major role in Enid's economy. Enid has a variety of shopping areas, including a mall, various strip centers, and the unique downtown shopping district, which the charm of an old-fashioned square has highlighted. Enid's medical community is one of the most outstanding in the state, with three ultramodern hospitals and a private psychiatric facility.
Enid has unique advantages for retired individuals as well, not the least of which is access to quality health care, shopping, and services. Affordable housing and retirement villages also offer advantages to individuals wishing to retire. However, there are also distinct advantages for young people and families as well.
The Greater Enid Area offers superb access to both public and private common education, Northern Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Autry Vo-Tech offers skills training for both high school and post high school students and has programs in a variety of areas. The school boasts a comprehensive aircraft maintenance training program that is highly successful in training aircraft mechanics, and the school also offers industry training in a variety of areas.
From the standpoint of history, Enid has much to offer both the traveler and the resident. The Cherokee Strip Museum offers unique insight into the history of the area; the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma is a must-see for railroad buffs and historians; George's Auto Museum features outstandingly refurbished relics of motor history; Midgley Museum offers both unique architecture and a collection of interesting artifacts, and Bartunek's Winery offer, wines from grapes grown in Oklahoma, as well as a gift shop of other "Made in Oklahoma" items. The recently restored Government Springs Park features a heritage village, and is adjacent to the Cherokee Strip Museum. Leonardo's Discovery Warehouse has exhibits in the arts and sciences, with hands-on programs for both children and adults.
The Enid area is also flush with recreational opportunities including Meadowlake Park, where you can take a ride on the train, play tennis, picnic, or relax by the lake. Adjacent to the park is Meadowlake Golf Course, a challenging 18-hole course that features broad fairways and challenging greens. The University Lake Golf Course is a challenging nine hole course, and Oakwood Country Club features a championship-style 18-hole course. For exercise and fitness, the YMCA is a beehive of activity, featuring the latest exercise equipment and classes, youth programs and much more. Enid also has an excellent YWCA with outstanding women's and youth programs. Splash Zone offers an alternative to our fine municipal swimming facilities.
Another important part of Enid's quality of life are the cultural opportunities available. The Enid-Phillips Symphony is the oldest orchestra in Oklahoma, and performs several concerts during the year. The Gaslight Theater seems always to have an action-packed stage production to thrill area audiences.
The Cherokee Strip Conference Center was built to promote Enid as a convention site, and this effort has paid off often over as convention-goers come from across the state and nation to use this state-of-the-art facility. The Downtown renovations have created an outstanding backdrop for the conference center and one that pleases visitors and residents alike. Enid is a safe and economic place to live, work, and raise a family. The air is clean, the lifestyle refreshing. There are all the amenities of a large city, yet there is still the friendly atmosphere of a small town. Enid truly is "The Bright Star of the Great Plains," and it is getting brighter by the day. So, follow the shining star to the place where the world begins . . . Enid, Oklahoma.