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Overview & Context

Salina is a town of great history that includes Indigenous people, Europeans and Americans. One of the oldest permanent settlements in Oklahoma, it sits along the eastern shore of Lake Hudson which provides a wonderful recreation amenity surrounded by forested hillsides.

Salina is comprised of approximately 1.1 square miles with a small town center perpendicular to the waterfront, and large rural and agricultural communities on the outskirts and surrounds of town. Salina is located about 11 miles northeast of MAIP, and is expected to experience growth in population due to the increase in economic opportunity coming to the region in the near future.



Early Settlement

Due its proximity to water (the Neosho, or Grand, River) and the presence of salt locally, it is believed that this area would have been home to several indigenous populations for thousands of years. Early documentation indicates that Salina was located within several tribal land boundaries and that the Wichita, Quapaw, and Pawnee were the listed inhabitants in the 1600s. This started to shift as the area saw the arrival of foreigners in the late 1700s, specifically Jean-Pierre Chouteau’s party, when the Osage began their migration from the Ozark plateau in Missouri to Oklahoma.

Officially Established In 1796

While there is evidence of earlier Pawnee settlements near the salt wells in Salina, the area was established as a premier port and trading post by Jean-Pierre Chouteau in 1796. It was considered to be the first major outpost in the region and quickly grew with the addition of homes, a port and active trading. By the early 19th century, Salina grew into an established regional trading center with significant trade occurring between Fort Smith and New Orleans, and the hub for negotiations occurring between the United States and the Osage Nation (1830).

Captain John Rogers operated the Salina saltworks between 1830 and 1843. These saltworks consisted of salt kettles, furnaces, and piping. The sale of salt, in addition to the fur trade, created the demand for the areas first post office in 1849. After his tenure and dispossession by the Cherokee Council, the saltworks was leased and operated by Lewis Ross, brother of Chief John Ross. During his operations, Ross constructed a plantation home and expanded his property to include gardens, cotton fields, mills and farm buildings. This home eventually became the Cherokee Orphan’s asylum in 1872.

By the early 20th century, Salina had grown to include approximately 550 residents, two general stores, a post office, livery, blacksmith, dry goods store, several schools and churches. It also hosted the ferry built and operated by S.H. Mayes which crossed the Neosho/Grand River and docked at Ferry Street.

Several of these sites still exist today in some form and are either protected through the National Register or have markers delineating their locations.

Salina By The Numbers


Residents identify as White / Caucasian


Residents Identify As Native American


Residents Identify As Two or More Races

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