AFTON — A huge portion of Afton history went up in smoke during a fire that destroyed what had been the Palmer Hotel, Bassett Grocery and several other buildings.
“It’s sad. It’s very sad,” said Rebecca McClintock. “You can look through one of the windows and still see a bed. That’s 109 years old.”
The fire started about 4 p.m. Tuesday and was extinguished later in the evening, but a big plume of black smoke could be seen again early Wednesday afternoon.
Among the agencies assisting the Afton Fire Department were Welch, Vinita, Miami, Langley, Bluejacket, Grove, Wyandotte, Quapaw, Hickory Grove, Bernice, Fairland, Cowskin, Monkey Island, Cleora, Commerce and Seneca, Missouri, and there were more than 70 firefighters on the scene.
An issue with water hampered efforts of the firefighters.
In addition to the hotel and grocery, over the years the building had been home to a funeral home, restaurant and furniture store.
“You go back to the 1910s, the horse and buggies and the fancy dresses, all of them to go up there,” McClintock said. “The cowboys would ride in and have a room to sleep in, wash up after a dusty ride. They said it was a booming town.”
According to “Route 66 Times,” the hotel was completed in 1910 and opened in 1911, offering "hot and cold running water in each room. Electric lights throughout" for only $2 per day on the "American Plan."
Afton became a boomtown because of the railroad that was located just several hundred feet from the hotel.
The last owner/operators were Alvin and Lulu Maloney who ran the hotel from 1952 until 1991, when they closed it.