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Miko (pronounced: Me-koh) is the thirteenth-largest city in the United States, the largest city in the state of Oklahoma, and the seat of Osage County. Situated in northern Oklahoma and just south of the Kansas border, the city and its suburbs are mainly located between Kay and Osage Counties, and surround the shores of Lake Kaw, formed thousands of years ago by natural damming of the Arkansas River. The city receives its name from the Chickasaw word for 'chief', a group of whom make up around 7.8% of the modern-day city's population, the largest of any Native American group in a major US city.
It is the center of the Miko-Blackwell-Pawhuska Metropolitan Area, of which the city proper is home to over 1.4 million residents, with a metro area total of just under 2.8 million. As a nation-wide destination for tourists, Miko is renowned for its partly tourism-driven industry and is connected to the interstate system through the local I-235 which approximately bisects the downtown area and becomes SR-115 on the northwest end of the Blackwell Bridge, which itself connects the neighborhood and suburb of Kanza to both downtown and Lakeshore Drive. Its influence extends far beyond the metro region, with the Combined Statistical Area (CSA) encompassing Wichita to the north and Tulsa to the south with a total population within the CSA exceeding 4.67 million.
History of Miko
Founding and Initial Growth (1889-1922)
One of three cities founded by 'Sooners' in the Land Rush of 1889, Miko was originally known as Kaw City, named after the nearby Lake Kaw and the Kanza Indians (from which the word 'Kaw' is derived). What attracted so many settlers to the area was the expansive Lake Kaw, and the fertile land, ripe for farming, as well as an unusual series of hot springs on the northeastern shore of the lake. A year later, the city had a population of 20,000 - nearly triple from the initial 7,000 in 1889. Upon statehood in 1907, the settlement was renamed Miko (Chickasaw for 'chief'), to honor the Native Americans who had once been forced to live in the region. For a time between 1907 and 1914, Miko, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee were in direct competition, each vying to become the new state capital, as all had long surpassed Guthrie in population, and desired national recognition. Despite a highly contested election in June 1910, the results of which were debated for years, the state capital was moved to Oklahoma City, garnering recognition across the new state and the nation. While residents of cities like Tulsa and Shawnee protested to the move, [quote] "The residents of Miko would have taken it one way or another - they almost didn't seem to care, especially as to the ongoing bickering within the state senate and among the other major cities." By 1920, Miko's population had exploded to over 154,000 - supplemented partly by the US Army personnel of nearby and newly-established Fort Burbank and Patrick Air Field, expanding it beyond the initial farming region and settlement that had been established thirty years earlier. In February 1922, oil was discovered just north of the modern-day suburb of Burbank, and tens of thousands flocked to the growing city to exploit its vast oil reserves. In addition to this period of rapid economic and population growth, the natural beauty of Lake Kaw and the hot springs on the lake's northeastern shore attracted an influx of rich tourists beginning in the late spring of 1922, who provided for the construction of the Lakeshore District neighborhood and waterfront, many of which were summer homes, restaurants, hotels, and swimming facilities. Around the same time, the city government provided a moderate construction program of its own, which included a series of wood and concrete fishing piers east of and across the lake from the modern-day neighborhood and suburb of Kanza.
Great Depression and Dust Bowl (1929-1938)
Postwar Boom (1948-1959)
Unrest and Decline (1960-1975)
Renewal and Growth (1980-1989)
The Modern Era (1981-present)
At approximately 10:09 p.m. on June 1, 1997, an F-3 tornado struck just northeast of Miko and destroyed the OEP North Hills power distributor, cutting power to the city and creating a rolling blackout that reached as far north as Wichita and as far south as Tulsa. Miko's mayor, Isaiah Harris, immediately called on National Guard troops to render aid in the hardest-hit areas of the metro region and assist local law enforcement with looters and rioters, who had begun to roam the streets in the dawn hours of June 2.
Miko is located in the so-called 'western panhandle' of Osage County, the largest county in the state, on the eastern shore of Lake Kaw, which is said to have formed about 3000 years ago when a geologic disturbance of unknown origin dammed the Arkansas River. These disturbances are still present today, in the form of a series of hot springs on the northwestern shore, across the lake from the city's Lakeshore District neighborhood. These hot springs were largely what attracted the major influx of the wealthy and tourists in the 1920s, which resulted in a major uptick in local prosperity and the creation of the Lakeshore District and its distinctive (now-largely abandoned) boat clubs, high-class waterfront restaurants, hotels, and the nationally renowned Auburn Amusement Park. The confluence of the Arkansas and Oklahoma (formerly the southern Arkansas) Rivers occurs to the southwest of Miko.
Local topography is largely flat, as it is throughout most of the state, with the exception being Lake Kaw near Miko in the northeast, the northern 1/4 of the Caprock Escarpment (which extends south into Texas) and the Palo Duro Canyon - the latter of which is the second-largest canyon in the United States and extends through Randal, Blasingame, Palo Duro, and Price Counties - in the west.
Located in the heart of the infamous Tornado Alley (along with neighboring Tulsa to the southeast), Miko possesses a temperate, subtropical climate, and as expected, temperature varies by season, but the occasional extreme is not uncommon. The highest recorded temperature in Miko was 116 °F on August 11, 1936, and the lowest, -17 °F, was recorded on January 3, 1976.
Severe thunderstorms containing high winds, large hail, and tornadoes are fairly common in the region, and typically occur in the spring and summer months. The most recent tornado to have occurred near Miko was an F3 tornado that destroyed Oklahoma Electric Power (OEP)'s North Hills power distributor. Distributors have been known for over a decade as the weakest links in the national power grid.
The only major bridge near Miko is the Blackwell Bridge, which crosses Lake Kaw and links the suburb of Kanza with downtown. The Blackwell Bridge is unique in that not only is it a double-decked bridge, but also carries Kaw Metro rail traffic over a pair of tracks on the lower deck in addition to two lanes of traffic on either side of the rails (much like Chicago's O'Hare "L" Blue Line runs through the middle of the Kennedy Expressway).
The Blackwell rails crossing to the Kanza side terminate at the North Kanza Terminal, while those crossing toward downtown stop at the East Campus/South Kanza Station before continuing into the city proper. There, they branch into a network of largely below-ground subway tunnels, and even a series of elevated tracks in the vicinity of South Milligan Avenue, High Street, and Burbank. The rail system also runs parallel to the I-235.
The city's major highway is the I-435, which bisects downtown through South Milligan Avenue, High Street, East 13th Street, Central Avenue, North Milligan Avenue, and Burbank. It then crosses the Blackwell Bridge and becomes State-Route 115, which in turn passes through the suburb of Kanza and continues northeast through Kay and Grant Counties before it crosses into Kansas and terminates as KS SR-179 near Anthony.
The city is serviced mainly by the expansive Miko International Airport, which is located south of West 13th Street and the outer suburb of McCord. The airport offers regular service as far as Guam and the Marianas to the west, San José in Central America to the south, Halifax and Georgetown to the east-northeast, and Juneau to the north-northwest, as well as infrequent service to Nome and Bogota. Eastern Air Lines' Midwestern hub is located at Miko International as well.
Locally, Osage County Airport serves Osage, Kay, Pawnee, and Noble Counties, with occasional ferry service to Oneida in Potter County.
Several major sports teams call the city home, from the AFL's Miko Chiefs and the NCAA's college football and basketball teams (the Miko Reds), to the ABA's Miko Thunder and even an NAHL hockey team, the Scouts. The Chiefs have won two SuperBowl titles since 1967, while the Reds (both football and basketball) have won a combined half-dozen national championships in the past twenty years, with the Scouts also winning three Stanley Cup titles in the same time period.