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America's "Hay Capital"

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Quapaw is the first town in Oklahoma along Route 66 coming from Kansas. It has roots in the Quapaw Indians and is known as the "Hay Capital". Visit its Tribal Museum, enjoy its July 4th Pow-Wow, drive the dirt surfaced 1926 Route 66 alignment, see the famous "Lovers' Leap" and try to sight the eerie "Spook Lights"...

Quapaw OK

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About Quapaw, Oklahoma

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 846 ft. (258 m). Population: 906 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

A small town located just north of Commerce and Miami in the northeastern corner Oklahoma, in the Kansas - Oklahoma - Missouri "Tri-state" region.

Its nickname is "Hay Capital".

Quapaw, old store on Main Street, Route 66

store in ruins Route 66 in Quapaw, looking north
Store in ruins on Main Street - Route 66 in Quapaw Oklahoma, click on image for street view

The Historic Route 66 is the town's Main Street, and crosses Quapaw from North to South.

The History of Quapaw

See Miami, History for full information on the region's history.

The name: Quapaw

The town's name comes from the Native American people who were made to settle here after being displaced from their lands in Arkansas.

In their language, their self-given name Quapaw (Ug' akh pa) means "Downstream people" and "Those broken off the main stem" (Lost tribe).

The Quapaw Indian Agency

The Quapaw Indian Agency was the territory which spanned 220,000 acres of what today are Ottawa and Delaware Counties in Oklahoma.

It was created in the late 1830s to be given to the Quapaw Tribe, and that is the reason for its name. It was disbanded in 1890, but established again in 1920.

It was settled by 24 Indian groups who mingled and intermarried, among them were the Miami, Eastern Shawnee, Modoc, Ottawa, Peoria, Seneca, Cayuga and of course, the Quapaw.

The Quapaw Indians

The Spanish explorer DeSoto encountered them during his expedition in 1541. The French encountered them again in 1673, along the Arkansas River and its confluence with the Mississippi River. Contact with Europeans brought disease which decimated the tribes.

Migration to Oklahoma

After 1824 their migrations began, they ceded their lands and moved to the Red River, returned to Arkansas and then moved to what is now Oklahoma (1834), to the Indian Territory, where Quapaw is now located. Some groups return to Arkansas (183/) while others moved to Holdenville in OK, in 1840. Those in current Ottawa County move closer to Baxter Springs (1854). Some groups move with the Osages to Osage Nation Indian Territory (1861).

By 1868, those living in the Reservation are starving, but they stay there because the original 1833 Treaty stated that their title to the reservation was only valid as long as the Natives existed as a Nation or continued to reside on their land. As almost 80% of the tribe lived in the Osage land they decide to expand and adopt individuals to come and live on the reservation. By 1889, they leave the Osage land and come back to their territory. Between 1893 and 1896 they are given between 200 and 240 acres each.

Isaac Bingham settled in the area in 1891, he ran a farm and some businesses there. A small community soon sprung up.


The school St. Mary's of the Quapaws was established in 1894 on land donated by Chief John Quapaw (it lasted until 1927).

The natives (as well as the settlers) were farmers and produced hay (that is the origin of the town's nickname) and other farm products for the surrounding towns.

The Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad built a station there and a post office opened in 1897, that same year lead was discovered

Main Street Quapaw 1920s

This picture (1920s) is taken from the north end of town looking south and showing the buildings on the east side of Main. The building behind the lady dressed in white is the same one as the green building in the Street View further up. John Schehrer and Pat Waddle

A town was platted and land was purchased for that purpose from Harry Whitebird. Quapaw was incorporated in 1917. The demand for workers at the zinc and lead mines led to a boom in the population. By 1920 almost 1,400 people lived in the town.

Imperial mine operated to the west of the town, and Ontario smelter which refined zinc ore was located between Hockerville and Quapaw.

Route 66 was created in 1926 and it passed through Quapaw, the road was later paved and brought travelers and more prosperity to the town.

The mines gradually became exhausted and by the late 1950s began closing. At that time Route 66 was ageing, it was not very safe and had a lot of traffic. The Interstate highways were replacing it: in 1957 I-44 (the Turner and the Will Rogers Turnpikes) had linked Oklahoma City and Joplin, MO. This bypassed this section of Route 66 in Oklahoma.

Business decreased and the locals went back to farming and ranching. Population dropped.

Where to Stay

There are several hotels in neighboring Miami. Alternatively you can also lodge in the neighboring towns in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma:

>> Book your Hotels in Miami Oklahoma (5 miles)

Lodging Nearby in Oklahoma

In Kansas and Missouri

Book your room in neighboring Miami:

>> There are two RV campgrounds close to Commerce.

Quapaw’s Weather

Check the Weather and climate of Miami - Quapaw for historical weather information.

Tornado Risk: The deadly April 27 - 30, 2014 tornado outbreak struck Quapaw. It lies within the Oklahoma "Tornado Alley and experiences on average nine tornado watches every year.

Read more about: Tornados on Route-66.

Latest Quapaw, Oklahoma weather
Route 66: Quapaw, Oklahoma location map
Location of Quapaw on Route 66

Getting to Quapaw

It is 10 miles north of Miami and is the first town in Oklahoma coming from Kansas. It is 5 miles south of the Kansas state line and Baxter Springs, KS.

To the south, along US 69 - Route 66 is Commerce and even further south, Afton.

Map of Route 66 through Quapaw Oklahoma

Check out Quapaw on our Oklahoma Route 66 Map, with the complete alignment and all the towns along it.

Quapaw Map

Route 66's alignment in Oklahoma: the Historic Route 66 through Quapaw

Route 66 logo

Route 66 in Oklahoma

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.

Read below for more information on Route 66's alignment in Quapaw.

Route 66 landmarks & attractions

Sights in Quapaw

Indian Town

Visit Quapaw's Tribal Museum, enjoy its Summer Pow Wow, visit "Lover's Leap" and try to sight the mysterious "Spook Lights". Drive the 1926 alignment of Route 66 north of Town...

For full information on the Quapaw, visit their office: Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma 5681 South 630 Rd. Quapaw, OK 74363.

Tribal Museum

905 Whitebird St., Quapaw. Open Mon-Thur. 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Fri. 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

A place to see the tribal history, traditions and artifacts of the Quapaw people.

Pow Wow

This can be written powwow, pow-wow, pow wow or pau wau. It is a gathering of Native Americans, and the word originates from the Narragansett language.

Annual Quapaw Pow Wow

The Quapaw people have been holding their gathering for over one hundred and forty years; they began in the period of the America Civil War.

The 2015 PowWow will be the 143rd annual meeting.

Learn more at the official Quapaw Tribe Website

Lovers' Leap

On the bridge of E 57 Rd., over Spring River, close to Quapaw.

Leave Quapaw (mile zero) and head south along Route 66, at the end of town the road curves towards the right as S. Main St. Keep straight own along Main St. and turn right after 0.4 mile. Head eastwards along E 50 Rd., drive through Lincolnville and turn right on S630 Rd. The road will become E 57 Rd, and cross Spring River (3.6 miles).

You will see, on the west bank of the River, right to the north of the bridge two rock buffs, known as "Lovers' Leap".

The local legend tells about young Indian warrior who fell in love with a girl of the Quapaw tribe, but the maiden's father asked for a large payment for his daughter's hand. The lovers eloped but their escape was discovered and the angry Chief sent a party to capture them. The couple knew their fate: death, so they chose to die together by jumping off the rocky cliff which is now known as "Lovers' Leap" or "Devil's Promenade"

Spook Lights

The Indian lover's myth blends with another local myth, the "Spook Lights" legend:

A local phenomenon called Spook Lights is said to be caused by the nightly return of the young couple's ghosts to the spot where they died.

Spook Lights, the legend

The Tri-state corner area, where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet is the site of a mysterious phenomenon known under various names: "spook lights", "ghost lights", "Indian lights" and "Hornet lights" (after the town of Hornet, Mo.).

Getting to Spook Lights

From the bridge, head east along E57 Rd., it will curve to the southeast, cross I-44 and head east again as E60 Rd. Turn left on S680 until reaching E50 Rd. Take a right and head east again. After 7.9 miles from the bridge you will have reached your destination, just before the Oklahoma - Missouri state Line. This alignment was replaced by a shorter road: the current Route 66 when it was paved in the early 1930s.

> > Click to read about the Spook Lights on Route 66


US Highway 66

Historic Route 66 alignment

Learn more about alignment of Historic Route-66 through Oklahoma and the famous nine-foot wide "Ribbon Road".

>> Click to read about the Route 66: The Ribbon Road

1926 Alignment north of Quapaw

By the way, if you head straight north along Main Street and just before the road curves right to leave town, you take a right along E 40 Rd., you will be driving along the 1926 alignment of Route 66. Head east until reaching S 630 Rd. (2.6 miles) and there turn left and head north till you encounter Route 66 again (after 2.3 miles) just short of the Kansas border.

Natural Attractions

National & State Parks

See the nearby places ideal for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature here: State Parks near Commerce

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Sources, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma

Quapaw Tribal Ancestry by Risë Supernaw Proctor

Banner is the Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, New Mexico; by Perla Eichenblat.