Kaw City, Oklahoma

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Kaw City is a city in Kay County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 372 at the 2000 census. Kaw City was named for the Kanza Indians, called the Kaw by locals.



In 1902, the original Kaw City was founded, prior to Oklahoma statehood, as a farming community in the fertile oxbow bend of the Arkansas River. Though the original townsite is now inundated by the waters of Kaw Lake, the old town was quite a busy place.

After its founding, it became a booming oil town when 'black gold' was discovered in nearby Kay County and the present Osage Nation reservation. It even had a very popular four-story hotel filled with one of the world's rarest art collections.

The majority of the town was overcome by a (weather related) flood in 1923, and then devastated again by the Great Depression.

In the late 1960s, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed Kaw Dam on the Arkansas River just south of the original Kaw City site. It then went underwater permanently in 1976, when the gates of the Kaw Dam closed and turned that particular area of the Arkansas River into Kaw Lake.

Present day

Many buildings in Kaw City, including the original Kaw City Museum, were moved to the town's present location, on high ground near the lake. When the water in the lake is exceptionally low, some of the roofs of the old structures can still be seen just above the water.

The Kaw City Cemetery (all headstones and the majority of the caskets) were also moved and given a separate section within Ponca City's IOOF cemetery, west of Conoco just south of Highway 60. The Kaw Indian cemetery located across the Arkansas river in Washunga was moved to Newkirk, Oklahoma.

The museum's contents are now housed in the old Santa Fe Railroad Depot.

Kaw City remains near Kaw Lake and tourism is the major industry. There are several restaurants, a hotel and a marina.

The town has many retirees and part time residents who take advantage of the recreational opportunities and the appealing natural landscape.


Kaw City is located at 36°45′57″N 96°51′29″W / 36.76583°N 96.85806°W / 36.76583; -96.85806 (36.765842, -96.858035)[3]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.5 square miles (14.3 km²), of which, 2.7 square miles (7.0 km²) of it is land and 2.8 square miles (7.4 km²) of it (51.26%) is water.

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