Racing pigeons being released from World of Wings Pigeon Center. - Oklahoman Archive Photo
If we look, we can see pigeons every day, sitting on signs, scratching for food or flying. They are a common sight in Oklahoma.
According to the newspaper account of January 31, 1908, Mr. W.D. Sanford, a local pigeon fancier, was meeting with other pigeon owners to start a pigeon club to promote the sport of racing pigeons. He said, “the encouragement that I have received is satisfactory and it is only a question of a short period before such an organization will be consummated.”
“The transcendental intelligence of the pigeons of the homing variety makes a race between birds of this nature more interesting than any other sport with which I am familiar. The homing pigeons instinctly returns to his loft when set at liberty, it makes no difference how far away he may be,” said Sanford.
Mr. Stanford was uniquely qualified to know homing pigeons and their traits as he had been a pigeon flyer for the United States government during the Spanish-American war. He supervised the training and use of the birds for communications (they would carry messages attached to their feet) from Key West, FL, to Cuba, South America, Norfolk, VA, and other places.
The Oklahoman for July 14, 1912, reported that “Oklahoma City is becoming popular among eastern homing pigeon fanciers as a starting point for long distance contests.” Within the space of 3 weeks, two groups of pigeons, had been sent to Oklahoma by express from Pittsburgh, PA, and Youngstown, OH.
I don’t know if the club was ever formed in 1908, but Oklahoma City is now the home of the World of Wings Pigeon Center, a museum, library and educational facility at 2300 NE 63. Their Web site is http://www.pigeoncenter.org/ and they welcome visitors.The American Racing Pigeon Union also makes its home in Oklahoma City and their Web site is http://www.pigeon.org/.
Pigeons sit atop the milk bottle building at NW 24th and Classen. - Oklahoman Archive Photo
Thank you for joining our conversation on The Archivist. We encourage your discussion but ask that you stay within the bounds of our commenting and posting policy.