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Big Mac Prison Riot – Podcast

Return with me to 1973 and the site and scene of the most destructive prison riot in American history—at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester! Feel the bulls bucking at the world’s largest prison rodeo. And learn a “Thin Brown Line” of only eight Oklahoma State Troopers prevented a prisoner invasion of the town of McAlester! Memorable Oklahoma history!

Join John and KTOK/iHeartRadio star Gwin Faulconer-Lippert for this pulse-pounding, 47th episode of our weekly OKLAHOMA GOLD! radio program and podcast. Go HERE to listen to them all! Future episodes explore more great heroes, events, and movements of Oklahoma history.


Oklahoma law saddles up to deal with inmates killing, burning, and taking over the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester in 1973. Photo Don Tullous. Courtesy Oklahoma Publishing Co. and Oklahoma Historical Society.

Seen through a fence, prisoners, at least two of them packing very large knives, mill about as lawmen and National Guardsmen restore order to the burned, wrecked Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester following the inmates’ violent 1973 riot. Photo Jim Argo. Courtesy Oklahoma Publishing Co. and Oklahoma Historical Society.

The McAlester Prison Rodeo, whose attendance reached 65,000 between 1940 and 2009, was the largest such event in the world. Many prison participants had been cowboys or rodeo contestants before their incarceration. They wore striped outfits, such as the pictured bull rider. An armed guard tower looms center background. The prison’s rodeo arena could pack in over 5,000 people. Courtesy Dan Reynolds.


Many thanks to Atwoods Ranch and Home, a farm and ranch supply company based in Enid, Oklahoma, for their support of the Red River Institute of History and OKLAHOMA GOLD! Please support them as you are able! Wherever you are, you can order online from thousands of quality products on their terrific website HERE. Atwoods also has 66 stores in 5 states: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to farm and ranch supplies, Atwoods stores sell clothing, lawn and garden items, tools, hardware, automotive supplies, sporting goods, pet supplies, firearms, and seasonal items.

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