NAME: Foss
COUNTY: Washita
CLIMATE: Typical Oklahoma
COMMENTS: Tribute / Historical Marker, Kobels Place , Nearby is the Foss State Park, just some ten miles north of Foss. The 1750-acre park and 8,800-acre lake features 120 campsites with hiking trails, a swimming beach, boating, water skiing and fishing.
REMAINS: School Foundation, Kobels Place (Old Service Station)

Foss got its start in the late 1890s when people began to populate the valley of Turkey Creek. However, when a flash flood occurred on May 2, 1902, it pretty much wiped out the town, washing buildings away and drowning several people.
Not tempting Mother Nature again, the surviving residents moved out of the creek bottom to higher ground and the new town was called Foss. The fertile farmland surrounding the area attracted many early settlers and Foss grew to a population of almost 1000 people by 1905. Soon all manner of businesses sprang up including two banks and three cotton gins. Stone buildings replaced earlier frame structures, a school system was organized, and several churches were built. By 1912, Foss had an electric plant, two hotels and an opera house.

After the town’s initial rapid growth it stabilized at about 500 people. However, in the 1920's the town began to struggle as the nearby rail centers of Clinton and Elk City began to absorb much of the town’s former trade.

Later, the depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s created further migration from the area. Still, the small town hung on and in the 1950's saw a revival due to the increased use of the Air Force Installation at nearby Burns Flat. However, the base closed at about the same time that Foss was bypassed by I-40 and those few remaining people began to leave. Finally, in September, 1977, the one bank left open in Foss closed its doors forever.

Today, Foss is but a reminder of its former past. The ruins of Kobel’s Gas Station, which also served as a café and bus station, still remain. An 1894 church building and a pioneer jail are also left standing. But of the rest of the town, there are only foundations, where buildings once stood and vacant sidewalks, lining ghostly blocks that will never be used again.


Submitted by: Trisha Welch