The First Toll Road in Oklahoma

chelseaIt was about 1916 that the commissioners of Rogers County issued permission to a Broken Arrow man to operate and maintain a toll road between Chelsea and Claremore.

The request was filed by Kelley F. Gibson, and he had more than highway progress in mind when he filed the proposition.  Gibson had been doing road construction work in Rogers County for several months, but he discovered that there was no money to pay for his services.  In order to recoup part of his losses he decided to charge people to drive over the roads.
A committee was set up by the commissioners to lay out and survey the proposed route of the toll road.  The road laid out by this party ran closely parallel to the present U. S. Highway “66”.
Gibson was given authority to construct three toll gates along the road:  one between Chelsea and Bushyhead, one between Bushyhead and Foyil, one between Sequoyah and Claremore.  The following rates prevailed at each of the gates:  automobiles, 20 cents each; all other vehicles, 10 cents each; loose stock, horses and cattle, per head, 1 cent; traction engines, separators and threshing machines, 50 cents each; and oil drilling machines, $5 each.
Gibson announced that he intended to make the road one of the finest in the state…“a model.”  But, he was struck with opposition.  The people figured they should be immune to the payment of a fee to drive on roads they were used to traveling unimpeded.  A petition signed by some 80 freeholders of Rogers County was presented to County Attorney William H. Hall, appealing the toll road proposition to the district court.  But, such action was actually unnecessary.  County citizens on the move steered clear of Gibson’s toll road and his take was negligible.
Finally the county settled off its debt with Gibson…the thing he had been seeking from the outset.  The county took over the road again and tore down the toll gates, writing an end to Oklahoma’s first and Rogers County’s only toll road.
This information was in the June 28, 1953 Claremore Progress. Submitted to moreClaremore by the Claremore Museum of History

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