History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK


Population: 796 in 2000; 809 in 1990
(formerly Lawton & Weldon)

This community was originally known as Lawton, with a post office under that name from January 6, 1900 to July 10, 1901. At that time the name was changed to Weldon, which lasted until February 27, 1904. The final name of Copan came from the town's Santa Fe railroad depot which had been named after the ancient city in Honduras. (Oklahomans pronounce the name differently, however.) After its incorporation in 1906, Copan's entire business district burned. A bootlegger feud led to arson on New Year's Eve in 1911 and again on January 12, 1912 which burned up half the town. The town boasted the second largest oil tank farm in the nation at one time. Built by the Prairie Oil and Gas Company, it boasted 107 tanks with a total capacity of 3,745,000 barrels. The tax revenues from the farm were crucial to Copan and its school system. By the 1940s the tanks sat empty. They were later dismantled for local building supplies, and the sheet steel sides and bottoms were shipped to Japan, to come back as WWII bullets. The old dikes of the farm are visible north of town. In the post-oil era, Copan's economy has been dependent on tourism and recreation revenue from nearby Hulah Lake and later Lake Copan.

Until 1924, the Delaware Indians had their "Big House Church" about four miles west of Copan. This log building was about 40 feet long and had twelve "Messingw" faces inside, representing the guardian of game animals.


Photo courtesy of and © Ian Swart of Fletcher, OK; Link

Washington County Carrel