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For hundreds of years, Northeastern Oklahoma was practically uninhabited, though several relatively nomadic Native American tribes, such as the Osage Nation, were in the area. Around 1802 a band of Osage Indians settled in the area of present-day Claremore. The town's name came from an Osage chief called "Gra-moi." French traders in the area pronounced his name as "Clairmont," which means "mountain with a clear view." The area experienced some minor damage during the American Civil War, but quickly recovered after the end of the conflict.
After the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was passed by the United States, Claremore became part of Indian Territory and the Cherokee Nation. Claremore was a part of the Cooweescowee District in the northwestern part of the Cherokee Nation. The Rogers family, for whom the county is named, was among the first settlers. Clem Rogers, father of the famous Will Rogers, moved to the county in 1856 and is its namesake. His ranch eventually was more 60,000 acres (243 km²), and his home, which still stands outside Oologah, is an important historical site. Clem Rogers was a major advocate of Oklahoma statehood and was the oldest delegate to the state's Constitutional Convention in 1907 at age 69.
Two railroads, one of which was the Frisco Railroad, were built through Claremore starting in 1874, and Claremore became a busy train station. This was the main force of Claremore's growth. Although the old rail depot is gone, its effect on the growth of Claremore cannot be overestimated. The name of Claremore changed from Clermont to its present spelling on September 19, 1882. A clerk recording the town as having a post office spelled the name incorrectly, and it stuck. The city was incorporated in the Cherokee Nation in 1883.
Another a major factor in the growth of Claremore was an area known as "Radium Town". In 1903, a man named George Eaton owned an oil company in Claremore. He was drilling just to the east of Claremore and struck an underground of pool of water that smelled of sulphur. A local doctor, Dr. W.G. Williams, tested the water and marketed it as a cure. The water, known as "Radium Water," contained impurities that supposedly made it medically useful. Bath houses sprang up all over this area of Claremore, and many are still standing today.
Claremore's first hospital was established on Will Rogers Boulevard, or Highway 88, in the early 1900s. Today it is the site of a dry cleaners. Claremore's newspaper, the Claremore Daily Progress, was established in 1893 by cowboy Joe Klein and is still published daily. It is the oldest business in Rogers County.
There are many historic homes and other buildings in Claremore, including the old high school, which was built in 1919 and was at one point the most expensive school in Oklahoma. The building was used as a junior high school or high school for almost 80 years, until 1999. The downtown area in Claremore has recently undergone a revival, and most buildings in the district are now occupied with retail establishments.
Claremore is, like most of Oklahoma, located in Tornado Alley. Legend says that the valley Claremore is in is protected from tornadoes by an Osage deity who made a deal with an early Osage chief in the area. The belief probably stems from the fact that a tornado has not hit the actual town of Claremore since 1907.
Claremore is located at 36°18'55" North, 95°36'46" West (36.315181, -95.612784)1.
Claremore is a major intersection of heavily-traveled highways. U.S. Interstate 44 crosses the city to its southeast. U.S. Highway 66, also known as the Mother Road (Route 66), forms one of the main roads of the town. The city is also intersected by Oklahoma State Highways 88 and 20. Traffic has become an increasingly bad problem for residents, a fact that has led the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to consider hundreds of bypass routes for Highways 20 and 88. Two railroads also intersect in central Claremore.
Claremore's primary water source is called Claremore Lake. The lake is fed by the waters of Dog Creek, named for an Osage Indian chief. The waters of the lake eventually flow into the Verdigris River.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 15,873 people, 6,283 households, and 4,165 families residing in the city. The population density is 509.4/km² (1,319.4/mi²). There are 6,784 housing units at an average density of 217.7/km² (563.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 75.69% White, 1.99% African American, 14.31% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 6.42% from two or more races. 3.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 6,283 households out of which 33.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% are married couples living together, 12.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% are non-families. 29.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.43 and the average family size is 3.02.
In the city the population is spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $34,547, and the median income for a family is $45,810. Males have a median income of $36,227 versus $21,742 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,853. 11.9% of the population and 8.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.4% of those under the age of 18 and 15.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The city bills itself as the birthplace of entertainer Will Rogers, but this is an inaccuracy because he was born 12 miles to the north, in the town of Oologah, Oklahoma. The Will Rogers Memorial Museum, a large 1930s museum of the entertainers life, is another major attraction. Claremore also offers the largest private gun collection in the world, housed in the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum. The town is also the home of Rogers State University. In the late 1990s, the city constructed a state-of-the-art Recreation and Convention Center to attract more tourism.
The Rogers County Historical Society has renovated several local historic sites and opened them to the public. One of their successful projects in 1995 was the renovation of Belvidere Mansion, the 1907 Victorian-style mansion of prominent citizen and banker John M. Bayless. Working in conjunction with the Kansas Grassroots Art Association during the 1990s, the RCHS restored Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, which is located ten miles north of town on Route 66.
Claremore was also the childhood home of singer Patti Page and playwright Lynn Riggs, author of Green Grow the Lilacs, the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Oklahoma! A museum of the life of Lynn Riggs is located in the town's historic library. The Oklahoma Military Academy Museum is located on the campus of Rogers State University. Claremore is also the site of frequent rodeos at the Will Rogers Stampede Outdoor Arena. The Will Rogers Downs, a large horseracing track, conducts horse races two weeks out of every year, and the Will Rogers Racetrack nearby conducts drag races regularly.
Claremore Public Schools is the public school district serving the city of Claremore. It currently consists of Claremore High School, Will Rogers Junior High, Central Upper Elementary, Westside Elementary, Claremont Elementary, Stuart Roosa Elementary, and the Alternative Learning Center.
The first school was established in Claremore in 1870. Claremore Public Schools consistently score above state and national averages on standardized tests.
Private and religious education is also present in Claremore. First Baptist Church operates a Kindergarten through 8th grade school, as does the Church of Claremore. A Lutheran church in the city operates a 3-year-old through 5-year-old preschool. The Presbyterian church in Claremore has a preschool called the Mustard Seed, which is also for 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds.
Claremore has many churches, the oldest of which is the First Presbyterian Church, established in 1893. Many churches in Claremore have been in existence since the 1890s. Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Nazarene, and Latter-Day Saints churches have major presences in Claremore.
Claremore's economy is diversified. Baker Hughes has a large presence in the town, along with several other large companies in Claremore Industrial Park, which is only a few miles away from the Port of Catoosa on the Kerr-McClellan Navigational Channel (Verdigris River and Arkansas River). Farming and ranching are large parts of the local economy. Retail businesses are moving to Claremore in greater and greater numbers. Coal mining was an important local industry, but in the last 40 years many mines have been closed and environmentally restored.
- Garth Brooks, country singer and entertainer
- Patti Page, singer and entertainer
- Lynn Riggs, playwright
- Will Rogers, entertainer, comedian, and actor
- Stuart Roosa, astronaut
- J.M. Davis, gun collector
- Helen Walton, Wal-Mart heiress
- W.R. Howell, former CEO and Chairman of J.C. Penney
- Clem McSpadden, rodeo announcer
- Andy Payne, winner of transcontinental footrace in 1928
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Oologah, Oklahoma
- Catoosa, Oklahoma
- Inola, Oklahoma
- Chelsea, Oklahoma
- Foyil, Oklahoma
- Talala, Oklahoma
- Verdigris, Oklahoma
- Owasso, Oklahoma