Friday, May 28, 2010

Whizbang, Oklahoma, a ghost town

If you like to beat around old ghost towns then this could be a good place to go.

Whizbang, Oklahoma was an overnight sensation due to the oil field boom in the 1920’s. At one point, there was a single well producing over twenty-five hundred barrels of oil a day. No, that’s not a misprint; it was 2500 barrels per day. When they drilled this well it started producing one barrel of oil per minute with the tools still in the hole!

Needless to say, the town sprang to life almost immediately with almost three hundred different businesses including two large hotels. The railroad was brought to Whizbang as quickly as possible and with all of the success, also came the undesirables. In my younger days I probably would have fallen into that category but today I'm an upstanding citizen. OK, you can stop laughing now so you can finish reading the article.

Shootings were just about a weekly occurrence in the town and the bank was robbed twice! It seems the local sheriff, who called himself Jose Alvarado and whose real name was Bert Bryant, was just about as bad as the undesirable crowd.

At one time there was a fire at the town’s post office and the sheriff refused to let the large oil companies help extinguish the flames until all of the postal records were destroyed. After that, the oil companies decided the sheriff was on his own and the blaze from the post office eventually consumed an entire block of business buildings.

During the blaze the sheriff got into a shootout with a peace officer from another town over a woman and ended up in the hospital. The sheriff was shot once in the chest and once in each shin, breaking both of his legs. The other lawman didn’t fair too much better because he ended up getting shot four times by Alvarado. Both men lived and became good friends after spending time in the same hospital recuperating from their wounds. The women the fight was about ended up getting shot by the second lawman and she died.

Whizbang is located in Osage County, OK about one and a half miles north and one and a half miles west of present day Shidler, OK. Whizbang was only known as Whizbang for a very short time. As with a lot of things, the federal government decided to stick their noses into things when the post office was established in December 1921. The Post Office Department decided the name Whizbang was not dignified enough for a town name and renamed the town Denoya, after a prominent Osage Indian family.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the name Denoya, it’s the fact that some government suit type guy took it upon himself to change the name of an entire town just because he didn’t feel it was proper.

The town eventually died out and the post office was closed in September 1942. What’s left of the town now is not much. In 1975 there were a few buildings still standing and several foundations that could still be seen.

This could be a very good spot to do some metal detecting even though there is probably a lot of junk around. Who knows, maybe you can find some of the bullets that missed their targets during those frequent shootings.

No comments: