Fort Reno, Oklahoma|
By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez
In last month’s article, we discussed the history of Fort Reno, located just outside of current day El Reno, Oklahoma. We spoke of the influence of the cavalry soldiers who lived at the fort and how Fort Reno was one of the most influential forts in the state of Oklahoma history.
Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Reno|
That same year, the Department of the Army reactivated the fort as a remount station, providing a location for the cavalry to train new horses and mules. Under new leadership, the post was refurbished and expanded, with room for the thousands of horses and mules being trained and groomed for use during both World Wars and the Korean War.
Cavalry Barracks 1934|
The troops and their horses from the remount station often traveled to other parts of the world during the conflicts in which they served.
Chapel built by POWs, May 28, 1944|
The tranquil gravel road leading to the Fort Reno Cemetery|
The main Fort Reno Cemetery, the final resting place for soldiers, family members (including infants), several Indian Scouts, Unkowns, even a Chinaman|
The back part of the Cemetery, sectioned off for POWs. It shares the back wall, there is a staircase that goes over, and it has its own entrance|
Many of the POW headstones have the flags of their nationality|
In 1948, the Army Quartermaster Remount Station was officially closed, though they sent mounts out until 1952. In 1949, fort ownership was transferred from the Department of the Army to the Department of Agriculture, which in coordination with the Oklahoma Agriculture and Machine University (later renamed Oklahoma State University), established a livestock and forage research center.
This historic fort has been manned since 1949 by the USDA and OSU faculty. However on the grounds, Historic Fort Reno Inc., maintains a presence. They tend the grounds, have numerous cavalry competitions every year, and have a chapel. The chapel is available for weddings, which helps the corporation to provide funds for the site.
Inside the chapel, a beautiful piece of workmanship by WWII POWs|
As of 2015, a museum exists on the grounds, and Suttlery (or shop that sells trinkets such as belt buckles, cords, pins and such necessities for reenacting) dedicated to the US Cavalry Association. Several times a year, Fort Reno hosts the “Ghost Tours,” which allows outsiders to hear many stories of the fort and its inhabitants from the people who maintain the grounds. While the fort is open to the public most days, the guided tours should be scheduled and are quite worth it.
If you are in the area of central Oklahoma, it is well worth the time and effort to make a trip to the site of Historic Fort Reno. This fort is a rich, vibrant slice of Oklahoma history. Join us next month, and we will outline the only active military fort left in Oklahoma: Fort Sill.
Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.