The Santa Fe Depot in Marietta, now closed, still sees the
Amtrak go by, though trains no longer stop at this small town
just north of the Red River.
Riding around Oklahoma recently, I swung by Marietta, a little town that hugs
US 77 but also has stretched a little to meet up with Interstate 35. When you
enter Oklahama from Texas, Marietta is the first county seat you meet, if you
take the time to visit. And yes, it's worth a visit.

I've been to Marietta plenty of times before, but usually only to buy the
cheap bags of broken cookies sold at the local cookie factory. Sadly, the
factory is now closed.

Name that Town!
Like many towns (such as Maypearl in Texas), Marietta was named after a
lady near and dear to a prominent man. In this instance, Marietta was the
wife of Jerry Washington, a member of the Chickasaw nation who owned the
land that the railroad took for its tracks in 1887. Love County got its name
the old fashioned way, too: the county was named after the Love family,
which owned over 8,000 acres around the Red River. Nope, the town of
Marietta being the seat of Love County is not the result of a tragic yet
romantic story.

Historic Tidbits
In fact, there were many times Love County did not prove to be so loving.
Being in close proximity to Texas, many outlaws running from the law found
refuge in the Post Oak and Cedar breaks along the Red River. The WPA
Guide for Oklahoma recalls a place in Love County called Refuge Spring,
which used to serve as a boundary between Indian Territory and Texas in
the 1840s. The guide claims many outlaws died in the grove of cedar trees.
Joe T. Roff, a son of early pioneers to the area who witnessed Indian
depredations in Texas and the murder of his brothers by a gang of outlaws,
described Love County and the Chickasaw Nation as being a bloody, wild,
and violent frontier.

On more judicious note, one of Marietta's most prominent citizens was
Robert Alexander Keller, who moved to the city from Montague County,
Texas in 1905 and practiced law there until he was elected Senator in 1914.
Many Mariettans fled the drought of the 1930s to settle in California, and Lee
Russell, the famous Farm Security Administration photographer hired to
document the exodus, took picutres of the refugees in Marietta.

Don't Loose That Loving Feeling
Today's Marietta is still a farming center, and keeps itself rather busy. Its
train depot, though, is no longer the center of the town.  Though the Amtrak
Heartland Flyer passes through twice a day, Marietta isn't one of its stops.
The city does have a small military museum next to its beautiful courthouse.

There are even some places to get merry in Marietta. Not only are there are
some nice restaurants along the Interstate, but the WinStar Chickasaw
Casino is just a few miles south.
The courthouse is very pretty, and has a star on top, even
though it isn't Christmas or anything.
Across from the train depot and behind the police station is
this long, large, sturdy, yet very neglected brick building.
Was it a hotel? A school? Administrative building?
Winchester Mystery House?
How to get there:
From Texas, take Interstate 35 north to Oklahoma.
Marietta is just past the WinStar Casino.
From Oklahoma, go south on Interstate 35 towards Texas.
Marietta is about 10 miles north of Texas.
Unless you live in
Thackerville, Oklahoma. Then you have
to go north to get to Marietta, because Thackerville's
closer to Texas than Marietta is.
Lee Russell of the FSA captured this migrant family from
Henrietta gassing up in Marietta. Hey, that rhymes!
Don't miss the lights of Marietta! Notice I didn't say bright.
Marietta: Loving it in Love County
Reader Tony of this site, offered more information:

Marietta, actually got it's name from the town of Marietta, Ohio when the rail
road was put in. The story just sounds much better, also another story is
that there were two daughters, Mary and Etta that were from the Love family
which the county was named after. Also, several towns in southern
Oklahoma were named after cities in Penn and Ohio when the rail road
companies were from there. On another note, Great page. I have
http://www.mariettaok.com with a lot of old pictures of Marietta and
Southern Oklahoma.

On the building across from the train station:
That was the Vanzant hotel, once was an awesome place, if your ever back
in Marietta, stop in at Norton Jewelry look in the center of the building at
the Log Book for the hotel, and ask Ronnie about town history, he has a ton
of stuff in the place. It was recently leveled and making way for a metal
building that is going to be an emergency operation center. They also torn
down Denims and now a McDonalds is in its place.

The Hotel and Depot and the old Military museum that was the jail was in the
movie Fast Charlie The Moonbeam Rider, with David Carradine filmed in 79,
parts filmed here.

Thanks, Tony!
Questions or comments? E-mail me:
robin@redriverhistorian.com