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Information from the Business Men’s League of Poteau

Before the Chamber of Commerce existed, Poteau had the Men’s Business League of Poteau. During the early 1900s, they would produce many advertisements in the hopes that they would draw new people to the city. This is one of their advertisements:

Where the city of Poteau, Okla., now stands there was thirteen years ago a cotton patch near the base of a mountain. The National Government platted a townsite there and sold the lots. The Kansas City Southern and the St. Louis & San Francisco Railways crossed at this point, and the authorities decided that it was a good location for a town. Since that town lot sale there has been a steady, certain and healthy growth; the citizenship was energetic and enterprising and today numbers 3,300. It is the county seat of LeFlore County, which has within its borders over 200 miles of railway. It is the center of the Oklahoma and Arkansas Coal District and is underlaid with coal and surrounded by coal deposits. Coal mining is the most important industry in Poteau. Three extensive mines are operated in the immediate vicinity, two of which are within the city limits. When in full operation the average daily output is 100 carloads. The clay found in connection with the coal is exceptionally good for the manufacture of vitrified brick. Immense beds of shale are also in evidence and some of them are used in the manufacture of paving brick, sewer pipe, and tilling, etc.

The surrounding country abounds in valuable hardwoods, including oak, hickory, ash, gum, elm, sycamore, etc., affording good opportunities for the establishment of wood-working plants. There are in Poteau a spoke and handle factory employing 75 men; a pressed brick and tile plant, with a daily capacity of 20,000 bricks; a planing mill employing 100 men, an electric light and ice plant, a municipal waterworks system, and several coal mines. The monthly payroll of Poteau is about $50,000. The assessed valuation of taxable property in the city is between one-half and three-quarters of a million dollars, and the municipality is entirely free from debt. The city has two prosperous banks, some twenty-five or thirty mercantile houses carrying large stocks, four hotels, a fine public school building, seven religious congregations which have buildings of their own, two lumber yards and nearly all the minor industries common to a town of its population. During the year 1910 and 1911 there were constructed thirty-two new dwellings, costing $25,000; ten brick business buildings, costing $30,000; a new ice plant, $20,000; a theater, $20,000; waterworks and sewers, $40,000; a cotton gin, $600; a canning plant, $500, and improvements on existing plants, $25,000. Much work was also done in grading and paving the streets. Eight new mercantile firms with stocks valued at $31,000 have established themselves, and three gas wells have been bored which have a daily capacity of 14,000,000 cubic feet and a pressure of 325 pounds to the square inch. On the farms adjacent to the town 260 new families have been settled and of these 150 purchased farm lands comprising 5,400 acres. Sixty new farms have been cleared and 2,100 acres of new land have been brought under cultivation.

The rolling hill and prairie lands immediately surrounding the town are as good as can be had for fruit and truck farming. Irish potatoes are grown twice a year on the same land and very large shipments are annually made of potatoes, as well as peaches, berries, cantaloupes, melons, poultry, and eggs. The receipts for cotton shipped run between half a million and three-quarter million dollars. In the bottomlands of Poteau River and Brazil Creek, great crops of corn and cotton and forage are obtained. Crops of 60 to 80 bushels of corn or one bale of cotton to the acre are not uncommon. Wheat and small grain yield as well here as elsewhere.

Wanted: Grocery stores, gents furnishing store, hardware and furniture store, hotel, notion or racket store, hide and fur buyer, produce dealer, tailor. Good openings for brick and tile plant, foundry, machine shop, furniture factory, wagon works, fruit box factory, flour and grist mill, sawmill, chair factory, cooperage, fruit evaporators, coal mines. Raw material of every kind abundant and cheap gas and coal mined at home for fuel. Adress Business Men’s League, Poteau, Okla.

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