At the time of statehood Wagoner was home to several germicidal baths, an opera house, exquisite hotels and was known as the "Queen City of the Prairie". Wagoner is home to over 70 large ornate brick buildings and an extensive history of trains. For over 100 years Wagoner was a hub of elegance, intellect, and commerce. Wagoner is working to bring the historical downtown back to its former status. A fire the summer of 2017 destroyed several downtown building, but the Wagoner Switch District is working hard to return downtown to its former glory.
Railroad: Wagoner’s very being was built around the Katy railroad. In 1889 the original Wagoner Switch, which was located about a mile south of town, was moved north to the hub of railroad activity in Wagoner. Muskogee residents now took an evening train to Wagoner, spend the night in one of her hotels along the tracks and took the early train south to Arkansas. Wagoner was referred to in Muskogee papers as the X-Road. One Sunday in June 1895, 46 trains had stopped in Wagoner. Although the first depot had been built in 1888, it had been used hard by the two railroad lines and was known as “the old dilapidated Valley depot”. Talk was going on that Wagoner would have two new depots. In 1896 the Katie finally build its first and only depot in Wagoner. The newspaper reported that it was planned to accommodate a town of 20,000 people and the cost would be a whopping $800. By February 1908 a newspaper announced that 16 passenger trains and four locals stopped in Wagoner every day. The Katy Depot is currently housed north of Wagoner on US Hwy 69 but will be moved back to Wagoner city limits in the near future.
Houses of Worship: The first settlers arrived in Wagoner with a lot of faith. It took a lot of faith to head into the unknown with so few guarantees at finding a home or family safety, yet they kept coming. One of the first things they did on arrival was to band together to worship as one. Then as the population grew, the denominations from their past became more important and small wooden religious structures begin to pop up to meet the individual needs. By 1900 these six distinct denominations had taken root in the new community. They grew and changed over the years, but all have remained.
- 1889 - Cumberland Presbyterian
- 1893 - Methodist Episcopal south
- 1894 - Saint James Episcopal
- 1895 - Holy Cross Catholic
- 1897 - First Baptist
- 1901 - First Christian
- The S.S. Cobb Building was the first brick building in Wagoner. Built in 1895, it housed Cobbs drugstore to the left and Palmer grocery on the right. Edlee outdid himself on this one and it is the only fancy iron front left in town. The S.S. Cobb Building is located on the northeast corner of Main and Cherokee.
- The Harris building was erected in 1912 and still stands at the southeast corner of Main and Cherokee. “Big Jim” as James Harris was referred to, was always very active in Republican politics. He was a delegate in the 1906 Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. From 1908 to 1909 he was treasurer of the State Republican Committee and in 1910 was elected State Republican Committee Chairman.
- The Carnegie Library is another one of Wagoner’s historic buildings that still stands guard over the city. As early as May 1907, S.S. Cobb wrote to Andrew Carnegie seeking to secure funding for a library in Wagoner. Carnegie was a Scotch-American millionaire, steel manufacturer and philanthropist who gave $56 million to build libraries in English speaking countries. He believed through the magic of books you could be educated, entertained and transported to other places and times. Carnegie brought this magic to 1700 US cities through the donation of libraries. He stated he would donate the building on the condition that the community would supply and support it. His last grant was made in 1917. In order to plant the germ of a Carnegie Library in the minds of the Wagoner residents, Cobb called a mass meeting in January 1910 and organized a Library Association. At a council meeting on February 13, 1911 a library board was appointed, and library directors were confirmed and instructed to purchase the lot for the Carnegie library. The lot was purchased for $1645.81 in September. One dollar was allowed to cover the cost of registering the date for the lot, $3.50 was allowed to be paid to the Wagoner Record for printing 500 library membership cards and 500 library book cards. In November, Mr. Carnegie gave the city $10,000 to build the new library on the corner of Cherokee and State Street where it still stands. The library was completed in October of 1913. (Currently closed)
- 407 N. 3rd St. East is the home of Fred H Parkinson and was built before 1900. The 1903 tax appraisal was $1500 for the home, $500 for the lot and $750 worth of household goods.
- The James Parkinson house, built in 1892, at 207 North E. 2nd St. has housed many families over the years. During the depression years the house was turn into five apartments, three downstairs and two upstairs.
- The house at 401 Mcquarie Ave. was built by Joseph W. Wallace in 1896 it was sold to W.A. Rule in 1909 when the Wallace family moved to California.
- 511 McQuarie,1900
- 912 SE 3rd, 1896
- 504 McQuarie, 1901
- 603 Parkinson’s Ave, 1893 (is on the National register of historic places)
- 909 Church Street, before 1896
- 702 SE 7th, this is the home of William H McAnally, Wagoner‘s first settler and second Mayor. It was built at 702 Southeast Seventh in 1897. The home served as the historical society’s museum for a number of years and is now a private residence.
Elmwood Cemetery: Like a silent Sentinel, the slender weathered stone has watched over Elmwood Cemetery in Wagoner for all its years. On Memorial Day it usually stood alone and unadorned, shaded by a huge cedar and partially hidden by twining vine. Time and weather have effaced the etching. The pinnacle is broken and few living in Wagoner even know who Valentine Gousseff was. But it was a different story on May 17, 1889, the day he died in McQuarie‘s haybarn. Gousseff was the first person to require local burial in the newly formed town that had boasted nothing but a railroad section house only two years earlier. Although Gousseff was only a Russian itinerate, the city fathers had to decide on a location to bury their dead. The burial place is now known as Elmwood Cemetery, but it was previously known as Rose Hill Cemetery. (The headstone can still be viewed at Elmwood.)