Elk City is a city in Beckham County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 11,693 at the 2010 census, and the population was estimated at 11,577 in 2019. Elk City is located on Interstate 40 and Historic U.S. Route 66 in western Oklahoma, approximately 110 miles (180 km) west of Oklahoma City and 150 miles (240 km) east of Amarillo, Texas.
In 1541, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado became the first known European to pass through the area. The Spanish conquistador was traveling northeast across the prairie in search of a place called Quivira, a city said to be fabulously wealthy with gold. Because Coronado's route across the plains is speculative, it is quite possible that the expedition passed through present-day Elk City or the nearby area.
Elk City's history dates back to the days immediately following the opening of the Cheyenne-Arapaho reservation in western Oklahoma Territory on April 19, 1892, when the first white settlers made their appearance. Prior to this time, many early ranchers had driven cattle over the Great Western Cattle Trail from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas, the present townsite of Elk City being in the direct path of that famous trail.
The creation of Elk City was an idea conceived by land promoters from Weatherford, Oklahoma, when they learned that the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (CO & G) was coming to the area (in 1898, the CO & G Railroad completed its western route to Weatherford; beginning in 1901, it continued building west). They formed the Choctaw Townsite and Development Company. These men with great foresight determined that the area at the source of Elk Creek would be an ideal location for a town, so they came to the area to purchase lands from the homesteaders who had claims along the railroad.