The Cowboy Temple of Oklahoma City.
For years I have mumbled that I wish that I could erase Kansas. It would make the journey to Colorado so much easier. (Tom likes the Flint Hills.) I am sure that the people of Kansas would not like being eliminated from the national map. Maybe it could be placed on the tip of Florida or next to Nova Scotia? No, that is a bad idea! Well I was wrong and send my apologies to Kansas for my bad attitude!
Utah is our ultimate goal but there are lots of byways. We have visited ghost towns high up in the mountains of Colorado or mining communities all over the west on past adventures. I did not know that ghost towns dotted the Kansas and Oklahoma landscape.
We were so surprised at the architecture in Newkirk, Oklahoma. And, no, it is a not a German town but it sounds like it is. Barely 2,000 living souls call this place their home but it could accommodate thousands more. The average price of a home here is $68,000 so most people could live it up in style in Newkirk. They could commute to Ponca which is right down the road.
Ponca is at the crossroads of three oil refineries so there are lots of jobs and people. It is kind of a shock to go from Newkirk where the dust flies to bustling Ponca. It is part of the Ponca Nation. We stopped to view a huge statue of a Pioneer Woman and got off the track to Marland Mansion. The mansion is fabulous with 22 rooms and acres of gardens.
We discovered E.W. Marland who was an early oil baron who lived it up until J.P. Morgan took over his company in lightening speed. Marland used to control the largest deposit of oil reserves in the world (according to some). Right after his mansion was built his wife Virginia died. Living with him was his niece whom he had adopted. Well, the tale is pretty tall here. So, he got the adoption annulled and then married her. Sounds like there might have been hanky panky involved before his wife died? There is more but I will have to save this story for another day! Oh, he eventually became governor and then died penniless!
On the way to a campground right off Route 66 we stopped in Guthrie. WOW! Most of the gorgeous Victorian red buildings were built after the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. At that time 50,000 people camped out where the town in now waiting to win a piece of land. Some of the buildings that sprouted up boasted 1893 as their year of origin. One tourist guide said that there are 2,000 preserved buildings from the 19th century. And they are all red or red brick. Amazing! I wonder who built these structures. They certainly reminded me of Belgium and the Netherlands!
I want to read about these places and the people but there is very little on the web and no books in the museums. It is time to talk to Amazon or the Intercontinental Library!
Today we visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum near Oklahoma City. Hollywood fantasy was the theme of the day. It featured cowboy literature, films, cowboy stars, cowboy stuff, art and statues of cowboys and some Native Americans. It was more visual than intellectual. Although it did remind me of all the TV cowboy shows and movies we watched while I was growing up. I would change the name to the “Cowboy Temple because it presents an idealized view of all cowboys.” I kept wondering what cowboys did after that got tired of the cows? Or did they want to be cowboys? Where are the cowgirls?
Near downtown Oklahoma City is an outdoor bronze sculpture called Centennial Land Run Monument that runs for two city blocks. Since we were learning about the land rush, we thought we would stop by the monument for a look. Beyond our expectations, these sculptures are god-sized images of people, horses, covered wagons, dogs, and all sorts of contraptions that are hell-bent on their way to find land. They tell a hopeful and yet sad story that seemed so similar to the gold rushes.
One of the best sights of the day was a tour of the Capital building with its lobbyists and state legislators The dome is truly magnificent and finished only in 2002.
Upcoming: The Stafford Space Museum and a Route 66 Museum.
As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge