In 1866, the United States signed treaties with the Creek and Seminole Nations and acquired land in central Indian Territory that would later be called the Unassigned Lands In 1870, the U.S. Land Office contracted for the area to be surveyed. The Norman vicinity was surveyed between 1871 and 1873. Among the contractor's team was young Abner E. Norman for whom the surveyor's field camp was named.
On July 4, 1884, President Chester A. Arthur authorized the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company to build a railroad across Indian Territory. In the early stages of railroad construction the proposed station grounds for the Norman area were referred to as "Dugout" because of the existing dugouts at the old surveyor's campsite (Normans's Camp) located on today's Bishop Creek. However, on May 2, 1887, railroad officials assigned the name "Norman" to the station grounds/
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on June 13, 1887, the first northbound passenger train passed Norman Station. On July 4, 1887, a boxcar equipped with telegraph instruments was placed on the railroad siding with the name "Norman" displayed on the outside. When the Unassigned Lands were opened by run for settlement on April 22, 1889, Norman Station was selected by railroad engineer, Charles Chamberlin, to become the site for the new town of Norman.
The present depot was built in 1909 and served the city continuously until passenger service ended in 1979. During the 1980's, a concerned group of citizens oversaw the restoration of the depot. The depot was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 25, 1991. In 1999 the depot resumed its orignal use when passenger service was restored to Norman.
After being closed for a short time for additional remodeling, the Norman Santa Fe Depot reopened in January 2003 to once again serve the community of Norman, not only as the railway station, but as a gallery and concert venue and as a beautiful space which can be rented by the community.