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  American HistoryUnited States: Local History and DescriptionThe WestOklahomaHistory

Arrows to AtomsOklahoma Semicentennial

In 1957 Oklahomans commemorated fifty years of statehood with events scheduled between April 22 and November 16, 1957. These dates were chosen because the first land run in present Oklahoma had occurred on April 22, 1889, and statehood had taken place on November 16, 1907.

Statewide events began with a parade in Guthrie on April 22, and with the dedication of the 200-foot-tall "Arrows to Atoms" tower at the state fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. Both events were attended by actor Joel McCrea, star of the 1957 movie The Oklahoman.

Oklahoma Semicentennial ExpositionThe major event of the year was the Semi-Centennial Exposition, held at the state fairgrounds from June 14 through July 7. Oklahoma oil companies sponsored the building of a two-block replica of an early Oklahoma oil-boom town, complete with several wooden oil derricks. The Boom Town included a "House That Oil Built," inside of which was an exhibit explaining the petroleum industry. Other highlights included a Teen Town, an international exhibit, science and industrial displays, and a women's fashion center. The International House had displays from the Soviet Union, India, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Venezuela, Italy, and Israel. Nationally known performers such as the Ziegfeld Follies, Mickey Rooney, the McGuire Sisters, and Patti Page appeared. Many television and radio programs originated from the fairgrounds, including NBC's Today show with commentator Dave Garroway. A stainless steel time capsule was buried at the south end of Boom Town on July 7. On August 14, 2006, the capsule was unearthed, and its contents, including newspaper clippings, photographs, letters, and souvenirs were placed on display at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

The nationally televised football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Owen Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma, on November 16, marked the close of the semicentennial activities. Unfortunately, the Sooners lost the game to the Irish, 7-0.

Oklahoma Historical Society

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This page was last updated on April 12, 2016.

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