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Barnsdall, OK. 74002


The town was founded in 1905 and originally named Bigheart, for the Osage Chief James Bigheart. It was initially a 160-acre site along the Midland Valley Railroad in March, 1905. The railroad opened Bigheart Station in September, 1905 and the Bigheart Post Office opened in January, 1906. The town was exempted from the Osage allotment, so lots could be sold to anyone. Lots were auctioned in May, 1906. The first newspaper, the Bigheart Star, first appeared in 1906.

Joshua Cosden built the Southwest Refining Company oil refinery in 1910. He sold it to Stone and Webster of Boston, Massachusetts in 1917. The Barnsdall Oil Company had discovered the nearby Bigheart (later Barnsdall) oilfield in 1916. The Barnsdall Oil Company, bought the refinery in 1921. The town was renamed on January 1, 1922 in honor of Mr. Barnsdall.

The town of Barnsdall experienced a tornado in April 1911, a major fire in March 1913 and a flood in September 1915. Despite these calamities, the population increased from 307 in 1910 to 2,099 in 1920. That proved to be the high point of population in the town.

Barnsdall Refining Company renamed itself Bareco Oil Company in 1940. It ceased refining oil in 1946 and began producing microcrystalline waxes that year. Petrolite Corporation (now part of Baker Hughes Inc.) bought Bareco and has continued to operate the plant. E. L. Doherty bought the holdings of Theodore N. Barnsdall, founder of Barnsdall Oil Company, in 1912.


Barnsdall’s annual Bigheart Day is held the Saturday before Memorial Day. It centered on a parade and other events, such as:

  • Fishing Tournament at Lake Waxhoma. Ages 4–12.
  • Frog Race and Turtle Race after the fishing tournament.
  • Carnival; depends on the city budget.
  • Tricycle races.
  • Live music. Bands that have played, Celestial Impulse (disbanded), Accusing of the Believing (disbanded), and Pake Mackentire
  • Street vendors.
  • Parade at noon.

  • Alumni panther football game.
  • Street dance; usually 7pm – Midnight.
  • Alumni Basketball game.

Barnsdall also hosts an annual Christmas Parade.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 1,325 people, 542 households, and 357 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,195.3 people per square mile (852.6/km2). There were 630 housing units at an average density of 1,043.8 per square mile (405.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.26% White, 15.62% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 9.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.81% of the population.

There were 542 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,598, and the median income for a family was $34,934. Males had a median income of $31,731 versus $18,472 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,435. About 8.0% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.