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ThreeSands, Oklahoma, oil boom ghost town.


In the late fall of 1920, "Spot" Geyer was talking with his boss, E.W. Marland in Ponca City, Oklahoma. "Spot", who headed Marland's geology department, was working to convince Marland that there was oil southwest of Ponca City near the town of Tonkawa. It wasn't a hard sell, as Marland had already won and lost a fortune in oil and coal, and was working on his building his second. A cooperative venture was formed between the Humpreys, Cosden, Prairie and Kay County oil and gas companies to drill ten test wells in the area. The first nine holes were dry. But while drilling the final hole on a warm summer day on the 29th of June, 1921, they struck paydirt. At a depth of 2,660 feed in what would be known as the Tonkawa sand, the well began producing a 1000 barrels per day. Though they tried to keep it quiet, word quickly spread, and people rushed to the area. Most of the drilling was around the Sam McKee farm in Noble county, but quickly spread north along the highway to Tonkawa in neighboring Kay county. The price of leases rapidly became so high that only larger oil companies could afford to work in the area. Clusters of houses and stores began to show up at crossroads along the highway. As workers arrived, businessmen followed, setting up grocery stores, dry goods, repair shops, restaurants, entertainment, and hotels, with oil field supply houses with machine shops, boilers, etc following shortly after. There was little or no organization, with "business centers" springing up wherever there was a need, many of them later vying to become functional towns. These included.Hatchville, Murray, Four Ways, Kanolka, Foster City, Riverview, Blue Ridge, and Comar. The Tonkawa paper complained bitterly about the hodge podge organization. Comar, at the site of the original strike, was a shortened version of "The Companies of Marland". Merchants and officials from the Comar Company met and agreed on the name "Three Sands" because oil was being produced from three different oil sands depths, the Carmichael, the Wilcox, and the Tonkawa. Within six months they were producing from seven, and at the end, nine. The business centers never really dissapeared, as the main area stretched over 3 miles. By Christmas of 1922, eleven boarding houses and a multitude of cafes served the workers. The Cozy theater had been built along with a two story dance hall, and an increasing number of businesses.. By spring of 1923, the citizens we clamoring for a post office, as there were now 2,000 people in Three Sands and 3,000 more in the surrounding area. In response, the postal service moved the post office located at Four Corners to Three Sands on June 15 of 1923. Typical with boom towns, housing was at a premium. Lumber was in such demand that the carpenters had to guard it around the clock. Those unlucky enough not to find a more stable structure lived in tents, shacks, or dugouts while workmen worked day and night to put up frame buildings for businessess and housing. "Two-Ton Tilly" and "Three Sands Blanche" operated boarding houses that were always full. Though prohibition was in effect, alcohol was plentiful with deliveries made by the "hunchback" who worked for a local bootlegger. The oil companies built row houses, were painted to match the company colors. Green for Comar, gray for Gypsy, gray with red roofs for Amerada, and gold for Carter. Schools were built and some semblance of civilization settled over the area. Despite its small size, the field produced a significant amount of oil, due to the large number of producing depths. Production from 1923 through 1925 ranged from twenty-three million to twenty-eight million barrels annually. Like all good things, it began to come to an end during the last months of 1926 as oil productivity began to fluctuate and by 1930 only a few hundred of the original inhabitants still remained. The Comar high school closed in the mid 1930s and the Three Sands school closed in 1946 and by 1947 the field was producing less than 400,000 barrels per year. Three Sands started out with a grocery store and cafe located in a shack on the C.C. Endicott farm. It was the first business to open and the last to close in 1951, last run by George and Birdie Taylor. The final chapter came with the closing of the post office in 1957. Nothing remains today of the sprawling area that was Three Sands, but the old Riverview cemetery, bits of concrete foundation and memories.

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