The Cookson Hills are in the eastern part of Oklahoma. They are an extension of the Boston Mountains of Arkansas to the east and the southwestern margin of the Ozark Plateau. They lie generally between Stilwell, Oklahoma, Sallisaw, Oklahoma and Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The area became part of the Cherokee Nation in the early 1800s until 1907 when Oklahoma became a state. The region is a rugged dissected plateau with numerous peaks and ridges of 1,500 feet or higher. The Cooksons are drained by tributaries of the Arkansas River.
The depression-era bank robber Charles Arthur ("Pretty Boy") Floyd, Rufus Buck, The Dalton Gang, the Doolins, the James Brothers, Belle Starr, Cherokee Bill, Wilbur Underhill and more recently, fugitive Gene Leroy Hart.
Click the Spell of the West icon below to see a great website that has substantial information about The Cookson Hills of Oklahoma and the bandits and outlaws who have hidden there. Below are some reminders of those criminals who at one time or another used Oklahoma's rugged Cookson Hills as their natural hideout from the law.
Charley Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
Myra Belle Shirley Starr
Jessie Woodson James
William M. "Bill" Doolin
The Dalton Gang
Without actually taking someone into The Cookson Hills region of northeastern Oklahoma it would be very difficult to explain exactly how and why these legendary outlaws and fugitives would choose The Cookson Hills as their sanctuary from the law.
The area where Camp Scott was located is just north of the confluence of Snake Creek and Spring Creek. The main part of the camp sits on top of a ridge that overlooks that valley cut by Snake Creek far below.
To see the place today that for nearly 50 years served as a haven for Girl Scouts is not only slightly eerie but it is also sad.
The former camp area is only minimally maintained by the current owners. Because of this, one has the opportunity to experience what these hills had to offer so many fugitives over the past 150 years.
The isolation, the solitude and the disorientation that come very quickly once you step away from any path off into the woods. You realize instantly that you lose your sense of where you came from. You realize how limited your visibility is in any direction because of the thick trees and dense underbrush. When the wind blows it is all too easy to believe you saw something or someone moving through the woods. You then become aware of that fact that someone could be standing seven or eight feet away from you and you would not be able to see them.
Two Fascinating Books about Oklahoma's Outlaw History and The Cookson Hills
Both pictures linked to amazon.com
Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby
The Cookson Hills
Click the image to see the entire preliminary hearing transcript and associated court documents.