Oklahoma’s panhandle, long called “No Man’s Land”, is a 170-mile-long stretch of flat farmland interrupted by a handful of small towns. It’s dry and barren in between the towns. And the towns are small; there aren’t many men, or women, living in No Man’s Land. Big shock, right? If you think a dearth of inhabitants is how No Man’s Land got its name, you’d be wrong. It was so named while people fought over who got to keep this dust-blown, winter-frost-bitten, tornado-swept bit of nowhere…
When Texas sought to enter the Union in 1845 as a slave state, federal law in the United States, based on the Missouri Compromise, prohibited slavery north of 36°30′ parallel north. Under the Compromise of 1850, Texas surrendered its lands north of 36°30′ latitude. The 170-mile strip of land, a “neutral strip”, was left with no state or territorial ownership from 1850 until 1890. It was officially called the “Public Land Strip” and was commonly called “No Man’s Land.”
In the middle of No Man’s Land sits a town named Hooker. Hooker happens to be just down the road from Beaver City. No shit. (I was going to visit Beaver City too, but that seemed, oh… I don’t know, like double dipping. Or redundant.)
Do you know what I think? I think naming a town “Hooker” and placing it smack dab in the middle of No Man’s Land was a clever marketing ploy.
Think about it. If you wanted to bring men to a place called No Man’s Land, what would you do? You would name a town Hooker, and another nearby town Beaver City. If a town named Hooker attracted women, perhaps “working gals”, along with the men, all the better!
Of course, it might attract horny guys willing to pay for sex, but whatever. The likely goal was to increase the population, and it worked.