314 N. 15th Street
Duncan, OK 73533
Museum: 580.786.4884
Cell: 580.695.8940


History of the Rock Island Railroad

photo07.jpg CRI&P Depot, Marlow, Oklahoma, 1968
Date Description
1847 The Rock Island Railroad was created in 1847 as the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad. The name was later changed to Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, and when combined with Mississippi and Missouri Railroad was renamed Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P) in 1866. The Rock Island Line, as it was commonly known, expanded to cover an area from Chicago to Denver, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota to Galveston, Texas. The railroad never reached the Pacific.
June 27, 1892 On June 27, 1892, the first Rock Island train arrived in Duncan, Oklahoma. This event is shown in the photo on the wall of the ROCK ISLAND 905 RAILROAD MUSEUM (the depot). This date is considered the birthday of Duncan, Oklahoma and is celebrated annually.
1909 A 1909 map on the south wall of the ROCK ISLAND 905 RAILROAD MUSEUM shows an extensive network of CRI&P rail lines in Oklahoma. One of the main lines extended between railroad shops in El Reno, Oklahoma and Waurika, Oklahoma. This line included stops at Chichasha, Marlow, Duncan, and Comanche. Many of the smaller lines joined small towns for passenger and freight service. Before roads, highways, and vehicles were improved, railroads provided most long-distance travel and delivery services.
1949 In 1949, the original wood frame depot in Duncan was destroyed by fire. This depot is shown in several photos on display in the ROCK ISLAND 905 RAILROAD MUSEUM.
1949 In 1949, a replacement Duncan depot was built using concrete blocks. This functional, but unattractive, building was dismantled in 1990. This depot is shown in a photo on display in the ROCK ISLAND 905 RAILROAD MUSEUM.
1956 After World War II, train passenger numbers began a steady decline for decades. When the Interstate Highway system was started in 1956, large trucks began to haul increasing percentages of short and long distance freight. Reduced passenger and freight traffic reduced income for all railroads by the 1970’s. Increasing costs came from workers unions and the need to repair track systems.

History of Duncan, Oklahoma

Date Description
1879 In 1879, William Duncan started a general store east of the current Duncan, Oklahoma location. His store was near the Chisholm Trail which was a cattle trail used for moving livestock from Texas north to railroad connections in Kansas. It was also on the Fort Sill–Fort Arbuckle military supply trail.
1884 In 1884, William Duncan established the first post office in Duncan, Oklahoma. He had earlier started a general store east of the current Duncan location.
1910 Following the cattle trail trade, the Duncan area became a center for agriculture. In the 1910’s, Duncan had several cotton gins and other agriculture businesses. Agriculture, primarily wheat and cattle, continues today as an important part of the local economy.
1920 In the 1920’s, oil was discovered near Duncan and many oil-related companies grew in the Duncan area. The largest of these was the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company, currently named Halliburton Company. Until 1961, Duncan was the corporate home for the international oil services company. Duncan employees numbered near 5,000 in early 1980’s, but have since declined in number.
1922 In 1922, the Rock Island Refinery was built south of Duncan. The refinery was owned by several different companies including Sunray Oil and Tosco before closing in middle of 1980’s. Since closing, all refinery equipment has been dismantled.