History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK

Silver Lake

This small settlement was an Osage Indian camp by 1805 with a trail that extended north through present-day downtown Bartlesville and then west into present-day Osage County. The trail passed north of present-day Pawhuska and eventually led into the Salt Plains and also to a camping site in present-day Elgin, Kansas. The Union Salt Works Trading Post was established here in 1858 by Joel Mayes Bryan and operated by Joseph Harden Bennett. In 1871 the Osage Indians removed from Kansas to the land in Indian Territory west of the 96th meridian. The Silver Lake site was actually two miles east of the meridian, but an incorrect survey led to the establishment of an Osage Indian Agency and school here. Up to 600 Osage were in the area until the corrected survey led them to move west in 1872 and establish Pawhuska in modern-day Osage County.

Jacob Bartles had a trading post here in 1873, moving to the Turkey Creek area in present-day Bartlesville a year later. Louis Faramond Choteau, of the famous French trading family, had a trading post about a half mile southeast of Silver Lake. He was later murdered by an Indian robber and is buried nearby on the Tyler/Irwin farm.

Silver Lake is one of the few natural lakes in the Caney River watershed. It became a recreation and entertainment site until the late 1920s, as shown below with boaters in the foreground and a high dive platform in the background. The shoreline was dotted with trading posts, churches, schools, and private homes, including John Sarcoxie's two-story, stone and wood structure, with porticoes on three sides.

Silver Lake Boaters

Washington County Carrel