Oneida is the largest city in western Oklahoma, the seat of Potter County, and fifth-largest city in the state, with a population of around 190,000 as of 1997. Oneida has been at the crossroads of the western half of Oklahoma since its establishment in April 1887, attracting a population boom to the small town with the discovery of oilfields in the region in the mid-1910s. Establishment of Oneida Air Force Base just east of the city in 1958 made it a target for Soviet ICBM's throughout the remainder of the Cold War. Recently, Oneida has seen a major increase in business with an economy upturn after the post-war slump that sent much of downtown into decline. The city is also the site of one of the nation's leading autism study and therapy schools, the Oneida Center for Autism and Learning Disabilities. Recent power failures (as of June 5) in the north-central region of the state have so far left Oneida unscathed from the mild unrest plaguing cities like Miko, Tulsa, and Wichita. A recently renovated US Route 66 passes through Oneida and to the south of Oneida AFB.
Palo Duro Canyon, located near Oneida, is sometimes referred to as "The Grand Canyon of Oklahoma", at 120 miles in length, an average of 6.2 miles in width and ranging from 820 to 1000 feet in depth. The South Fork River, a tributary of the Red River, extends through the canyon and is believed to be what created it, through millennia of constant erosion.