Broken Arrow, OK
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, earned a place in history as a settlement location and railroad stop during the Westward expansion, and a sense of drama from that earlier age remains. Although travelers once came to the city to chart a new future, visitors now are just as eager to explore the area's past.
The city earned its distinctive name when Creek Indian settlers from Alabama came to Oklahoma during the trying relocation known as the Trail of Tears in 1830. They chose to call the area "Broken Arrow" in honor of their former settlement's name, and when railroad developers came through decades later, they kept the moniker as the town's official name. For much of Broken Arrow's early history, residents specialized in agriculture. A commemorative statue of an early farm family, complete with pet rooster, stands in downtown's Centennial Park.
Those visiting Broken Arrow do well to start a tour at the historical society downtown. The museum and event space displays artifacts that portray the arrival of the first Creek Indian settlers. A re-created log cabin feature gives visitors a taste of how early residents lived. Of interest to history buffs, Broken Arrow Historical Society staff and volunteers occasionally dress as famous citizens from the town's past and lead tours while in character.
From the museum, sightseers can amble north along Main Street, where charming, modern boutiques inhabit the ground floors of historic buildings. It's possible for those visiting Broken Arrow to peruse some old literary favorites while snacking on Irish stew or shepherd's pie. Browsers will adore finds like quaint McHuston Booksellers & Irish Bistro, which boasts new and rare books on one side and a restaurant on the other.
For another leisurely excursion while downtown, Main Street Tavern exudes the feeling of an early 20th-century pub, complete with antique light fixtures, exposed brick interiors and live jazz music. Locals swear by the meatloaf, but gastro-pub specialties like blackened salmon and croque monsieur sandwiches are also favorites. In keeping with the city's emphasis on its founding, the tavern building and many other downtown structures are lovingly maintained. Even the original railroad station from the early 1900s stands as a symbol of Broken Arrow's birth.
Another part of that history that's not forgotten is the area's reliance on agriculture, although the principle industry has shifted to manufacturing. Rooster Days, a popular attraction in Broken Arrow, gives a nod to the city's farming roots each May. The celebratory events include a parade down Main Street.
There's also a weekly farmers market that brings together local growers as well as artists and craftspeople from the area. Bolstering that neighborhood spirit, the city often hosts family-friendly outdoor concerts in its downtown park in summer.
Broken Arrow's deep sense of history and community infuse every aspect of the city, from its well-preserved Victorian homes to its public sculptures of prominent residents. The sense of exploration that once drew settlers still remains, making the city worthy of discovery.