Underwater ghost town
The Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad repair building near the former town of Keystone, Okla. Before the area was submerged as part of Keystone Lake, the building also was the Osage Inn.
Beryl Ford Collection/Tulsa City-County Library
Fish, not people, inhabit the Keystone, Okla., of 2014. The town’s homes and businesses have been under water for more than half a century since the creation of Keystone Lake.
Located about 15 miles west of Tulsa, the community of Keystone had a relatively short lifespan, from approximately 1900-62, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
During that time, it was “a rough-and-tumble old West town that met the needs of cowboys, Creek Indians, oilfield roughnecks and fancy river gamblers,” writes Douglas L. Fisher on www.ghosttowns.com. Fisher lives near Mannford and says he is interested in the area’s history.
One of Keystone’s most trafficked locales in the early 1900s might have been the Osage Junction, which connected the area to Tulsa, Muskogee and other parts of what was then Indian Territory via the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad.
What was originally the junction’s railroad maintenance building later became the Osage Inn, a large hotel and café, according to “History of the Osage Nation.”
The Flood Control Act of 1950 authorized a $123 million project to create a dam and lake where the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers converged. Old Keystone was in its path, along with the former town of Appalachia and part of Osage, Okla. Prue and Mannford were relocated prior to the flooding of their original sites.
The Corps of Engineers reports construction of the dam began in December 1956 and was completed in September 1964.
Today all that’s left of the town of Keystone is at the bottom of a lake named in its memory.