We’ve had our share of shocking events in Oklahoma history. From riots to bombings to falling bridges, we have our list. But there are some shocking things that happened in Oklahoma that were left out of media reports or you aren’t aware of. Until now, that is. Here are 12 of them that might interest you:
1. "Captain Impersonator"
After a deadly bridge collapse in Oklahoma in 2002, a man by the name of James Clark impersonated an Army Captain and took control of the disaster scene for two days, including directing FBI agents and coordinating the rescue efforts, before fleeing the scene. Clark, a two-time felon, was later apprehended in Canada.
2. "Falling Space Debris"
in 1997, a woman in Oklahoma became the only known person to have been struck by man-made space debris. Lottie Williams was uninjured when she was hit in the shoulder by a piece of blackened, woven metallic material (shown above) confirmed as part of the propellant tank of a Delta II rocket which launched a U.S. Air Force satellite the year before.
3. "Sterile Criminals"
Up until 1942, Oklahoma would surgically sterilize criminals under the belief that bad behavior was hereditary.
4. "Schoolgirl Spell"
In 2000, an Oklahoma schoolgirl was suspended for casting a spell on her teacher, which allegedly made him ill and caused him to be hospitalized.
5. "Saved By Oklahoma"
While playing football in college, Mickey Mantle was kicked in the left ankle and it became infected with osteomyelitis, a crippling disease that was incurable just a few years earlier. A midnight drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma enabled him to be treated with penicillin, saving his leg from amputation.
6. "Okie Socialists"
Oklahoma had the largest population of Socialists of any state in the period before WWI.
7. "Tone It Down"
During 1964, the FAA bombarded Oklahoma City with 8 sonic booms per day, 7 days per week for SIX MONTHS! There were more than 15,000 complaints. Oklahoma City was chosen as the region's population was perceived to be relatively tolerant for such an experiment.
8. "Black Wall Street"
In 1921, the "Black Wall Street" of Tulsa, Oklahoma (Greenwood District) was the location of a race riot. Believing that this was the beginning of a black uprising, the local government used biplanes to fire rifles and drop firebombs on buildings, homes, and fleeing black families. The wealthiest black community in the United States was burned to the ground and up to 300 died.
9. "Pistol Pete"
Oklahoma State University's Mascot, Pistol Pete, is based off a real a US Marshall, Frank Eaton. After 6 Confederate soldiers murdered his father, he killed 5 out of 6 in shoot offs.
10. "Bombs Away"
In 1943 during WWII, an American B-17 bomber mistook Boise City, Oklahoma for their target practice bombing range and dropped bombs on the city. Miraculously, nobody was hurt or killed. It was the only continental U.S. city bombed during WWII.
11. "Business Card Evidence"
Trooper Charles Hanger, who arrested Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, remembers McVeigh fidgeting under the seat of his squad car after being handcuffed and placed in the front passenger seat. Hanger searches the seat and finds a business card shoved underneath. The card belonged to a Military Supply Store in Wisconsin. On the back are notes written by McVeigh: “TNT at $5 a stick. Need more. Call after May 1.” Federal investigators used the card to conclude that McVeigh intended to execute more bombings.