Ponca City is a city located in north central Oklahoma, 18 miles south of the Kansas border and 15 miles east of Interstate 35. The population was 25,596 at the 2000 census. Ponca City is the most populous city in Kay County. The city is near the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River and Kaw Lake which provide recreational opportunities. Ponca City is served by Ponca City Regional Airport.
Ponca City is located at GR1.(36.712422, -97.072431)
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 25,919 people, 10,636 households, and 7,019 families residing in the city. The population density was 552.6/km² (1,431.0/mi²). There were 11,871 housing units at an average density of 253.1/km² (655.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.18% White, 2.99% African American, 6.27% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.08% from other races, and 3.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.43% of the population.
There were 10,636 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,406, and the median income for a family was $39,846. Males had a median income of $32,283 versus $20,098 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,732. About 12.7% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.
Ponca City was founded in 1893 after the Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement in the Cherokee Strip land run, the largest land run in United States history.
The site for Ponca City was selected because of its proximity to the Arkansas River and a fresh water spring near the river. The city was founded by Burton Barnes who drew up the first survey of the city and sold lottery tickets for the lots he had surveyed. After the drawing for lots in the city was completed, Barnes was elected the city's first mayor.
Another city, Cross, vied with Ponca City to become the leading city in the area. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway had originally opened a station in Cross and refused to open one in Ponca City saying the two cities were too close to warrant another station. Citizens of Ponca City jacked up the train depot in Cross and moved it to Ponca City in the dead of night making Ponca City the railroad connection. Cross was later incorporated into Ponca City.
Ponca City's history has been shaped for the most part by the ebb and flow of the petroleum industry. The Marland Oil Company, which once controlled approximately 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, was founded by eventual Oklahoma governor and U.S. congressman E. W. Marland, who drilled his first successful oil well on land he leased from the Ponca Tribe of American Indians in 1911.
Marland's luck and tenacity would fuel growth and wealth that were previously unimaginable on the Oklahoma prairie, and his company virtually built the city from the ground up. Decadent 1920s mansions -- including the famed Marland Mansion and Grand Home -- were built by Marland and his associates. Because of this period of wealth and affluence, Ponca City has an unusually high concentration of buildings that exemplify the popular Spanish revival architecture of the period, as well as art deco-influenced buildings and homes.
The so-called "Roaring 20s" would come to an end for Ponca City shortly before the Great Depression. After a takeover bid by J.P. Morgan Jr., son of famed financier J.P. Morgan, Marland Oil Co. eventually merged with Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) in the late 1920s and would be known as Conoco for more than 70 years. The company maintained its headquarters in Ponca City during this time and continued to grow into a global corporation.
During the oil boom years of the 1980s, Conoco was owned by the DuPont Corp., which took control of the company in 1981. After nearly two decades of ownership and an oil bust that crippled Oklahoma's economy in the late 1980s, DuPont eventually sold off its Conoco assets in 1998. By 2002, Conoco had merged with Phillips Petroleum (interestingly, another major petroleum player with roots in northern Oklahoma) to become ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips is now one of the five largest oil companies in the world and maintains a significant presence in its historic home state.
Based in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips continues to operate one of the United States' largest refineries in Ponca City, as well as offices at the former Phillips Petroleum corporate headquarters in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The company's presence is much smaller than it once was, and Ponca City's population has declined steadily since the early 1990s as a result. However, recent efforts to grow the city's economy beyond the petroleum industry have landed a number of technology, manufacturing and service jobs.
In 2005, ConocoPhillips announced plans to build a $5 million dollar museum across from its Ponca City refinery. Opened to the public in May, 2007, the Conoco Museum features artifacts, photographs and other historical items related to the petroleum industry and its culture in northern Oklahoma. A sister museum -- Phillips Petroleum Company Museum -- will also be opened in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
The Conoco Museum is funded by a private foundation, and ConocoPhillips allows free admission.
Historical accounts of white settlers and the oil industry in Ponca City have often overshadowed the area's Native American population and its influences on the culture and history of the city and its environs.
Ponca City is named after the Ponca Tribe, part of which relocated from Nebraska to northern Oklahoma from 1877 to 1880. Like all of the forced American Indian removals of the 19th century, the Poncas' trek was arduous. A number of Poncas who made the initial journey died from illness and exposure to the elements while following a group of leaders to northern Indian Territory (now northern Oklahoma).
Part of the tribe was displeased with the living conditions on the land where they initially settled, and they were led on a journey toward their traditional home by the legendary civil rights leader Standing Bear in 1879. However, Standing Bear was arrested, and most of the tribal members who left eventually returned to the reservation in Oklahoma. The story of Standing Bear is perhaps best told by the memorial in his name, which stands at the intersection of Highway 60 and South Fourth Street in Ponca City.
The Ponca Nation, which has kept its headquarters south of Ponca City since 1879, played a major part in developing the Marland Oil Co. and the city proper when Chief White Eagle signed away valuable portions of the tribe's allotted land. In fact, the respected Ponca leader signed over the lease to the land on which E.W. Marland made his fortune in 1910.
In recent years, the Ponca Tribe has made a number of moves to build its infrastructure and improve services for its people. In February 2006, the tribe received a grant of more than $800,000 from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota for debt retirement and economic development.
In 1928, twelve miniature 3-foot sculptures were submitted by U.S. and international sculptors and traveled to twelve cites where they were viewed 750,000 people who cast votes for their favorite. The twelve original submissions have been on display at the museum at Woolaroc near Bartlesville, Oklahoma since the 1930's when E. W. Marland sold them to Frank Phillips after Marland lost control of the Marland Oil Company.
The winning statue was produced by British-born American sculptor Bryant Baker and was unveiled in a public ceremony on April 22, 1930 when forty thousand guests came to hear Will Rogers pay tribute to Oklahoma's pioneers. The statue is 27 feet high and weighs 12,000 pounds.
A museum was added in 1958 on the 65th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip land run. The museum contains exhibits commemorating Oklahoma women.
Native American as well as European women are acknowledged for their leadership and stamina creating homes, raising children, and taking care of the daily business of sustaining life.
Links to sites about the statue and history: