While having lunch at Red Fork Station Park on the north side
of Dover, we were impressed with two beautiful trees there. I
called the town hall and was lucky enough to get the man who
cares for the park and bought two of the trees. He identified the
tree behind Ibi's bow as an Arizona Cypress, unique for
being able to endure severe and frequent droughts here. The
perfectly rounded tree to the right is an Umbrella Willow.
The town of Dover grew out of the Red Fork Ranch, also called Red Fork Station, another trail or “whiskey” ranch along the Cimarron Trail. It was on the north side of where the trail crossed the Cimarron River, which was then known as the Red Fork of the Arkansas River. The ranch served as a supply depot or trading post, a horse-changing station for the stagecoach line, the post office when it became a town, and where cavalry troops from Fort Sill were stationed following the Hennessey massacre.
I had to chuckle when I read several accounts of an accident that occurred at Dover in September, 1906. I wasn’t amused by the tragedy, obviously, but by how much news reporting, not unlike weather forecasting, has, or has not, changed in the last century. The accident involved the collapse of the Rock Island Railroad bridge over the Cimarron, which sent a train into the flood-swollen river. Reading the various reports of the incident showed that as many as 100 people were killed, or perhaps as few as 4 actually, but then only one was known to have perished, Hank Littlefield, a circus employee who drowned, while Kate Sells’ 3-yr. old child was in poor condition.
We would soon have to turn west from Rt. 81, just north of Kingfisher, to find Lake Elmer, so we stopped at a town park on the north side of Dover to have lunch. We found some information there on Red Fork Station, and also enjoyed two very beautiful trees that had been planted there surely decades before.