Porter was early railroad developer

With the Railroad Act of 1866, Congress authorized two rail lines to be laid through Indian Territory. One was to run north and south and the second was to run east and west. Because three railroads had been building in Kansas with plans to enter Indian Territory, there was a race to see which would win the right to build to Texas. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (Katy) won that race and completed its line across the Indian nations by 1872.

There was only one railroad with plans to cross the territory from east to west. This was the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A&P), but its lofty goal of stretching from sea to sea was never realized. The A&P entered Indian Territory from Seneca, Missouri, but extended only 34 miles to Vinita. Here it met the Katy line in 1871 and stopped.

At this point the A&P had learned that the federal government would not grant large swaths of right-of-way through the Indian lands. And because the population was still sparse in Indian Territory, there was little freight to ship or passengers to carry. For over ten years, the A&P was content to give the Katy a virtual monopoly on rail traffic through the territory.

In 1882, the A&P extended its line to the little Creek community of Tulsey Town on the Arkansas River. It completed a bridge over the river in 1886 to another Creek town called Sapulpa. But there was so little traffic on the line, it only ran during the fall months when cattle were being shipped to market.

The Creek Nation was being served by two rail lines, the Katy and the A&P, with service to Muskogee, Eufaula, Tulsa and Sapulpa. But neither of these roads extended to the Creek capital at Okmulgee. And the Seminole Nation had no rail service at all.

Between 1886 and 1896 several more short lines were built, many in Oklahoma Territory. Still the Seminole and Creek capitals needed rail service. So when a new line called the St. Louis, Oklahoma & Southern Railroad was being organized and board members sought, John Brown, the Seminole chief, and Pleasant Porter, a prominent Creek citizen living in Muskogee, joined this line’s board with the intent of influencing its route through their capital cities.

Brown and Porter joined other board members in traveling to St. Louis to encourage speed in surveying a new line. But it wasn’t until 1899 that construction would begin.

This railroad was to start in Sapulpa, picking up where the A&P had terminated. Then, the route took a meandering path through Beggs, Okmulgee, Henryetta in the Creek Nation and Weleetka and Sasakwa in the Seminole Nation before continuing on through the Chickasaw Nation to Denison, Texas.

Later, in 1903, Porter and his friend, Charles Haskell, would work to build a line from Muskogee to Okmulgee connecting the St. Louis line to the Katy line.

Both of these lines, as well as the A&P, were later purchased by the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad (Frisco). The Frisco bought up several other short lines through the Twin Territories and by statehood had more miles of track than any other railroad in Oklahoma.