Oklahoma state government’s dire financial situation apparently forced it to halt funding for Fort Reno near El Reno, Oklahoma, just off old Route 66.
According to a report by KOCO in Oklahoma City, the historic fort — which dates to the 1870s — that once was open daily but Christmas and Thanksgiving now is greeting tourists only three days a week.
Theleda Fuller is a volunteer there:
“Missing the people that come down Route 66, it makes me sad to think that they came all the way up here and it’s closed,” Fuller said. […]
The board at Fort Reno learned in December that it is losing its state funding. Since then, the board has had to let go of their director, cut back on spending and postpone annual events.
“It’s just sad to lose that history,” Fuller said. “It has so much history. […]
Now, the fort has to stay open by donations, making sure those aging buildings continue to stand.
Here’s the original video report from KOCO:
Fort Reno was used for a variety of purposes during its existence, including protecting white settlers from Native American attacks, controlling Sooner and Boomer activity during the Land Rush, as a POW camp for captured German and Italian soldiers during World War II and as U.S. Department of Agriculture research center. A number of historic sites still remain on the complex, including a cemetery containing the graves of U.S. cavalrymen and World War II POWs.
Staggering deficits have rocked Oklahoma’s state government in the last few years. They were caused by ill-timed tax cuts, more tax breaks to the oil and gas industry and a collapse of tax revenue from those same industries.
The state has looked at closing at least half of its state parks and cutting deeply into its state tourism budget, although both things aren’t certain at this time.
(Graves of two World War II soldiers at Fort Reno near El Reno, Oklahoma, by H.L.I.T. via Flickr)