Fort Gibson's Weather Station
The United States established its national weather bureau when Congress directed the US Army to begin collecting measurements and observations in 1870. These duties initially became the responsibility of the Signal Corps because it was thought military discipline would produce consistently accurate reports.
It took several years for the army to establish procedures, to gather equipment and to train observers. Observer Sergeant Thomas A. Taylor's arrival at Fort Gibson is described in the following account.
"I arrived at Gibson Station on the night of the 25th [of March, 1873. It] being late [I] could not get the stage from this place until the following morning. . . On arrival at this place [Fort Gibson] I immediately set to work to establish my station."
"The only building which in my estimation is suitable for office purposes is one owned by a Mr. [F. H.] Nash. [It is] a two story brick [building] with two windows with good north exposure for instrument. . . I have rented the room at a rental of fifteen dollars per month and shall commence sending reports April 1st."
Sgt. Taylor moved into the second story room and began immediately uncrating the equipment for the post's first weather station. After lifting them out of the wooden boxes, he set about checking the instruments to see whether any damage occurred during shipment. He found all of them instruments to still be in calibration.
The sergeant next contracted with a local carpenter for the construction of a small shed for protecting the outdoor instruments. One of instruments was an anemometer he used to measure the force of blowing wind.
The shed also housed the thermometer. There was a barometer as well. The wind vane and rain gage stood outside of the shed.
Taylor's diligence and enthusiasm enabled his taking the first measurements of the local weather conditions at midnight on the 31st of March.
The Observation Sergeant made his first official report about six o'clock the next morning. He reported that the "morning opened clear and cool, not a cloud [in the sky. The] wind [was out of the] northwest, brisk and steady."
Taylor's noon observations were of a "fair and pleasant [sky with] small banks of cumulus [clouds] in zenith and moving slowly with the wind, which is [out of the] west and [blowing] brisk[ly. There was] but slight rise in Barometer."
The sergeant dutifully took measurements at four in the afternoon and again at nine o'clock. He saw a dense haze in the afternoon that covered everything. That evening he reported that the sky had become "clear and pleasant [with] no wind."
With these reports sent by telegraph from Muskogee's train station, this area of the American West became a part of the newly established weather bureau. As long as there were soldiers stationed at Fort Gibson, a non-commissioned officer dutifully reported the area's weather conditions.
The weather service became part of the US Department of Agriculture in 1890. It is now part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.