Tipton is a peaceful little farming community in Southwest, Oklahoma, about 40 minutes north of the Texas State line and about 20 miles east of Altus. Grain silos, by far the tallest structures in Tipton proper, silhouetted against a cloudless blue sky and visible for miles across the flat plains, stand as stark and proud reminders that this is farm country.

A person can drive through Tipton in less than three minutes without breaking a speed limit.

One could be tempted to think that nothing of import ever happens in this icon of rural America. One would be wrong.

November 7, 2011, proves the point but may not be the best example. On that afternoon an EF-4 tornado hit southwest of the town and destroyed a structure that had served Tipton, as well as Oklahoma agriculture, since 1938. Beginning as the Southwestern Cotton Substation, the agriculture research facility was the first research station established in Oklahoma dedicated to cotton research.

For more information on SW research and other issues, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.

The tornado may be the most memorable event to affect Tipton in recent years, but for 75 years previously the substation, later renamed the Southwest Agronomy Research Station, had done groundbreaking work to benefit Oklahoma agriculture.

Losing that facility would have been a blow to Oklahoma agriculture research.