Fairland was founded in 1889 in Oklahoma Indian Territory, Cherokee Nation. The town was laid out along the tracks of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco), which was built from Missouri to Vinita in 1871. The original plat encompassed 225 acres. Some residences and businesses were moved from the soon-to-be defunct town of Prairie City, which lay a few miles further east, near Grand River. In 1912 the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway, later the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (KO&G), began construction through Fairland, crossing the Frisco. By 1907 statehood the town had a flourishing Main Street with a bank, a post office (established in 1891), and all necessary businesses to serve the surrounding farms. Some surnames of early pioneers with relatives still in the area over one hundred years later are Chandler, Gallemore, Campbell, Angel, Audrain, and Connor. In 1895 the Fairland News published for a year, before reviving in 1905. The Bee, the Fairland Newsboy, the Fairland News Herald, and the Fairland Herald were other newspapers in the early twentieth century. None lasted into the 1920s. A subscription school, occupying a two-story, frame building, later became part of the state system, and in 1908 the first brick building was built. Fairland's population stood at 499 in 1900 and rose to 569 in 1910.
In following decades merchants sponsored a cash drawing on Saturday afternoons and a free movie at night, making virtually every Saturday a celebration with a thronged Main Street. Plays by both the junior and senior classes of the high school were annual events, as were carnival rides at the July Fourth picnics. A more somber note was the funeral of the first casualty of World War II, Herb Wynn, held in the high school auditorium. In 1930 there were 679 residents in town, rising to 786 in 1940.
After World War II the town's main economic support shifted from agriculture to employment at the B. F. Goodrich, a tire manufacturing plant, that opened in 1945 nearby, at the northwest edge of Miami. In 1950 the population registered 699. Fairland organized a volunteer fire department and built a sewer system. Five churches became seven. The rural schools, Aurora, Black, Sulphur Bend, Ogeechee, Hudson Creek, Lone Star, and parts of Iron Post and Osceola, were absorbed by the Fairland system. The KO&G tracks were abandoned and removed. Predictably, many of the business moved from Main Street to highway locations. The 1970 population was 814, climbing to 1,073 in 1980.
The February 1985 closure of the Goodrich plant was a severe blow to Ottawa County's economy, but due to the development of lakeshore communities such as Port Aspinwall, Wildcat Hollow, and Osage Hollow on Grand Lake of the Cherokees, the commercial base has remained stable. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Fairland services included a veterinarian, a natural health clinic, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, a senior citizens center, and an industrial park. In 2000 the population stood at 1,025, and the school, serving the larger area, had an enrollment of 506.
Fairland Main Street, 1911.
Frisco Railroad Depot.
Fairland Baseball Team, 1902.