Sitting just to the east of I-35 an hour south of Oklahoma City is the town of Paoli, pronounced pay-oh-la.
What to Do
This small town is home to Dancing Rabbit Creek Vineyards and Winery, which produces wines from grapes grown along the Washita River and from the finest grape concentrates in France, Italy, Australia and California.
The Washita Casino is also in Paoli, providing entertainment with over 250 electronic gaming machines. Open 24 hours a day, the Washita Casino is a popular stop for locals and those passing through.
Paoli is home to a star bullfighter in Professional Bull Riding, Fearless Frank Newsom. With a reputation as one of the toughest men in the business, Newsom has overcome many obstacles to become the family man and mentor that he is today, and hangs his hat in Paoli.
Paoli, Oklahoma is 8 miles north of Pauls Valley. Like many towns settled in the 1800’s, the community sprung up around the railroad station named Paoli, named after the Pennsylvania railroad town and once served as a watering station for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1888.
The town grew as the area that was the Chickasaw Nation moved towards Oklahoma statehood. By the time Oklahoma was officially recognized in 1907, over 200 people lived in Paoli.
The town grew due to a strong agricultural economy. However, as history moved on, the town population has ebbed and flowed, but now sits at over 600.
Today the Paoli school district boasts 270+ students, as well as one of the best mascots in the country- the Fighting Pugs.
The name conveys another piece of history about the town of Paoli. The city rests in the land first set aside for the Choctaw Indians in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Moreover, archeological work done in Paoli has revealed artifacts and signs of past Native American civilizations in the area.
So if you find yourself passing through Chickasaw Country and are looking for entertainment and refreshment in a small, historic Oklahoma town, head to Paoli.
With thanks to Oklahoma Historical Society for information.