Category Archives: History

The Chapel at Fort Reno

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Fort Reno has a chapel built by German Prisoners of War in 1944. It is a solid concrete structure with a basement. I don’t think any church services are held there but you can rent it for a wedding for a mere $500.  There are some by gum federal government paperwork to get the required permits out so if you are going to rent it, start early. And if you are going to toast the bride and groom with anything stronger than ginger ale, don’t do it here.

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So I couldn’t find out who designed it or if they just told the prisoners to go build it or just what but it has a definite German feeling on the outside and a kind of Western/German vibe on the interior.

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The windows are a translucent yellow and the walls and ceiling are pine and so the interior is very yellow, subdued and kind of pleasant. It is simple yet gets the job done.

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I loved the ceiling joists, and the chandeliers, they show a definite sense of style. 

Downstairs is a fully equipped kitchen and a big dining room. Just saying if you were wanting to have a wedding and reception with an old west military flair this would be just the place.

Ghosts of Fort Reno

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The Fort Reno Visitor Center. The nicest vintage building in the fort. Formerly it was Officer’s Quarters built in 1936. 

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The trees of the Fort tell the history with the wind whistling through them. they have been through broiling hot summers, freezing winters, drought, ice storms, and tornadoes. The ones that survive are ugly but tough. I think there are ghosts here, ghosts of soldiers, their families, and over 1300 prisoners of war. The ghost of Amelia Earhart is here, she flew here. Will Rogers used to visit because of the polo matches, Frederic Remington spent time here making drawings of the Soldiers and Native Americans.

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These two trees with their parallel lean look like they are dancing.

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The guardhouse. It doesn’t look like a good place to go for a timeout.

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The Commissary a long rambling building. I love the brick, the windows and the arches over the windows.

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The cemetery has a few soldiers,  lots of children and few wives. I think life was hard out here.

If you are of such a mind to believe in ghosts there is a ghost tour monthly starting in March. Check it out.  My ghosts are in my imagination thinking about all the people that came through the Fort over the years. 

Water Tank Wednesday – Glasnost Edition

Bixby Water Tanks edited

A few weeks ago I dropped off the kid at a friend’s house so they could play video games while I went geocaching at Lake Bixhoma. Near the lake are these water tanks for the city of Bixby. 

Near the water tanks is the Oklahoma Geophysical Laboratory. Way back when in the early 1990’s, when George H. Bush was President he and Michael Gorbachev agreed to let the Russians build a nuclear monitoring station there so the Russians could keep tabs on the USA anytime we wanted to test a “device” bigger than 50 kilotons. Their monitoring station was deeded over to them and was considered Russian Territory just like an embassy (can you imagine that howling that would result if our current President agreed to anything of the sort.)

Several years later the technology needed advanced to the point where the Russians didn’t need the site any more and they deeded it back to the US.

Here is a brief newspaper article on the matter. This is an essay written by a woman whose father was involved in the project. And this is a brief history of the Oklahoma Geophysical Laboratory that talks about the Russian monitoring  site and also some interesting information about how the facility is still involved in monitoring the world for nuclear tests.

Unfortunately, the lab and the old Russian site are well off the public roads and gated from inquiring bloggers. I would really like to go check things out there and take a few pictures. Apparently the road by the Russian site was renamed “Glasnost Road” and the road sign is still up.

Water Tower Wednesday is a feature my blog friend Fashionista. Check out her blog Out and About in New York City. The water towers in New York City don’t have near as much rust as the ones above do.

Oh, and yes I looked for four caches and found all of them. 

Our World – Tulsa’s Owen Park

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Tulsa’s Owen Park, Tulsa’s oldest public park, is a jewel just to the northwest of downtown.  As peaceful as it is now, it began with a accidental nitroglycerine explosion in 1904 in a nitroglycerine storage shed. Nitroglycerine was used for oil field purposes. The explosion’s crater became what is now Own Creek Pond pictured above. I love that story, another account said that the pond came about when the city dammed a ravine in the park. That definitely lacks in drama and thus is probably not true, at least in my thinking.

The property has been a park since 1909. It sold by Chauncy Owen to the city of Tulsa. Apparently it was the major park in Tulsa for years.

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 I love old obscure memorials. I loved the brass work on the one above. It is the Indian Memorial. Just several hundred feeet east is the junction of the Creek, Osage, and Cherokee tribal nations. Let  me tell you something, there is not much of anything more complicated than the history of the Indian Tribes in Oklahoma.

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There is another monument nearby that commemorates a barbecue held on the property in 1921. It was for families who had been in the area for 30 years or more. Not exactly the welcome wagon is it?

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I noticed that Chancey Owens attended, and several branches of the Perryman family who played a huge role in early day Tulsa. I find it amazing that somebody considered a barbecue so important that they built a monument to it. Have you ever been to a event that good? Me neither.

So, is that it for Owen Park? A remnant of early day history, well I think things are happening.

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A brand spanking new play park with splash pad. Splash pads are all the rage now. We just need some kids. They’ll show when school’s out.

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When the weather is hot there is nothing like these dumping buckets. They’ll cool you off in no time.

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Also, an old building on site is being converted to the Discovery Lab of the Tulsa Children’s Museum. Check out the link, it sounds fun. It opens later this month.

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Also, the neighborhood seems to be coming back. This house above is rght across the street. I just love those first floor doors and windows and the staircase to the left.

So, I think things are looking up for Owen Park.

Our World Tuesday

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage to Power by Robert A. Caro

“The Passage of Power” is Robert Caro’s fourth of five planned volumes on the life and time of Lyndon Johnson. This one is like the others in that it is meticulously researched and well written. “Passage” covers the  end times of Johnson’s time as Majority Leader in the Senate to his time as Vice President under John Kennedy through his inheriting the Presidency upon the murder of Kennedy and then the transition the next few months after that.
Portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson Deutsc...
Portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson Deutsch: Lyndon B. Johnson (* 1908) Italiano: Lyndon B. Johnson nel 1969 Nederlands: Lyndon B. Johnson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is to be sure a lot of history in the book but what really fascinated me was Johnson’s personality. Caro’s first three books detail Johnson’s rise from a hard childhood in rural Texas to college and then on to his first elections and on to the Senate. Johnson had a talent for acquiring power and for a determining a person’s weakest point. He was ruthless in using both things to get what he wanted. Upon his elevation to Majority Leader in the Senate he ran the place and didn’t put up with nonsense from anybody.
This book describes how Johnson wanted the Presidency more than anything but had a huge fear of failure that kept him from pursuing the 1960 elections. He ended up accepting the VP candidacy despite the fierce opposition of John Kennedy’s brother Robert. I had never paid Robert Kennedy much attention. He seemed to me to be another passionately liberal Kennedy who liked to play touch football but as Caro describes him Robert Kennedy was ruthless in his own way. He was very aggressive and was kind of his brother’s attack dog for many things. It turns out that Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson hated each other.
Robert F. Kennedy, Cabinet Room, White House, ...
Robert F. Kennedy, Cabinet Room, White House, Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The book goes on to describe how Johnson was dismayed to find out that the Vice President didn’t have much of job and that JFK kept him on a short leash and did not include him on discussions of many issues of the day. As Caro describes it, deprived of his power Johnson became whiny and miserable.
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on...
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon John Kennedy’s death however Johnson immediately took over the reins of the government and moved quickly to try and keep as many of “Kennedy’s men” to stay and put his own stamp on the administration. John Kennedy had been trying to push some major civil rights legislation but had been getting nowhere with it despite Johnson trying to offer advice. The basic problem was that the “Solid South” had been blocking Civil Rights legislation for decades and the way they did was by holding other important bills hostage. Johnson knew the game because he had been one of those actively blocking civil rights legislation for years. Johnson knew that although the northern Liberals such as Hubert Humphrey had the passion on their side, the Solid South knew the Senates rules and parliamentary procedure by heart. So legislation died a thousand deaths of delaying tactics and gutting amendments. 
A fascinating part of the book is the description of Johnson’s intricate knowledge of the Senate’s rules and his relationships with the players in order to get bill after bill passed. I’ve read elsewhere speculation that if Kennedy had lived his legislation may not have passed.
Another fascinating side of Johnson was his complete corruption. This book and Caro’s previous books detail Johnson’s greed in acquiring wealth and the payoff’s he took and lots and lots of shady dealings. For example upon becoming President he needed to have certain pesky reporters who were investigating his various shady dealings stopped. Newspaper companies are  vulnerable because of their associated radio and television stations. Johnson called up the owners and threatened them with audits and other harassment if the reporters didn’t quit. They quit.
So Johnson was a complex character. A man who stood with the “solid south” for years to deny civil rights to minorities and also the man who got them the right to vote and ended official segregation. A great leader but also a craven crook.
In 1964 he had negative ratings in the single digits. I was in grade school in Price, Utah when he ran against Barry Goldwater. We would link arms and march around the school yelling “LBJ for the USA” over and over during recess. Several years later we would see protesters on television linking arms and yelling “Hey, Hey, LBJ how many kids did you kill today.” By the time I got to eighth grade, by then in the little burgh of Eagar, Arizona it was hard for me to imagine how the country could last five more years.
I can’t wait for Caro’s next book. I hope that he hurries because he is 77 years old and I don’t need him running out of gas before he finishes.. The next book covers Johnson’s downfall  and the Vietnam War.
Anyway, for those that stuck with me, this is a great book. Five stars out of five.
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Our World – Road Trip to see Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park

Sunday, SuperPizzaBoy and I loaded up and headed up Route 66 northeast from Tulsa to the little town of Foyil, Oklahoma to check out the world’s largest concrete totem pole.

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The totem pole is 90 feet tall and is made of concrete over a metal and sandstone base. He started working on it in 1937 and finished in 1948.

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The exterior has many bas relief native American inspired designs.

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Apparently when asked why he built it he just said that he needed something to do when he retired.

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The base of the tower is a turtle. He fashioned it from a sandstone outcropping that was already in place.

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There is a small room inside that contains more artwork and an informative sign. If you start googling you will see find that there are lots of totem poles taller than ninety feet. So maybe this is the tallest concrete totem pole.

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(SPB photo)

SPB brought his camera. Of course a self portrait was in order.

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Hmm, this is also a pic of his, That is the scariest face on the Totem.

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(SPB photo)

SPB also captured images of some Galloway’s other pieces. I love the arrowhead below.

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(SPB photo)

I’m guessing this is a tree trunk.

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The park has a gift store inside the “Fiddle House” that includes a variety of fiddles carved by Mr. Galloway.

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This was my favorite

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The park has a short nature trail which of course we tried.

Galloway died in 1961 and the park fell into disrepair until rescued in the late 1980’s by the Rogers County Historical Society who runs the facility today.

We’ll post the second half of our road trip next week, unless of course we decide to do something else.

National Park Service Article on the Totem Park

Roadside America Link on the Totem Park

TravelOK.Com article on the Totem Park

Our World

October Osage County – Camera Critters

Lets check out what is happening at the Animal Barn at Woolaroc. Frank Phillips‘ (founder of Phillips Petroleum Company) old ranch in Osage County about an hour north of Tulsa.

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Woolaroc has quite a few critters. They can be as fun as the art in the museum and grounds.

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Something about zebras? They are so graphic. That is actually a better quality in zebras than it is in people.Don’t you think?

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I love the animal barn at Woolaroc (Are there barns that are not animal barns). I don’t trust this pair of jokers.

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This little guy just wants back in with his mama. She is fine where he is. I know lots of human moms like that also. Love their kids

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Something about goats is comical.

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My favorite was this calf. It was major cute.

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It was kind of shy and flirting with me.

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Have you ever seen a cuter redhead?

Camera Critters

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October, Osage County – Signs

This past Saturday I traveled up to  Osage County, Oklahoma to run a race on Frank Phillips old ranch, Woolaroc (“Wood Lakes Rocks”). Afterward I drove over to the old oilfield town of Barnsdall. Turned out that Barnsdall had some nice old signs.

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Barnsdall is the birthplace of Anita Bryant. Everybody calm down, I know that she became controversial but she has been gone some time now. It always fascinates me where people come from. I’m always asking where people are from. Except for people from Texas. If people are from Texas that is pretty much front loaded in the conversation. They will not ask you where you are from though, they figure that if you are from Texas you’d of already told them, and they don’t want to embarrass you in case you are not from there.

Anyway, Barnsdall claims fame to the world’s only Main Street Oil Well. Here is the sign.

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And here is the well.

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I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble. But I don’t think the well is operating any more. In fact it hasn’t produced in decades. I have access to databases that tell me that it is no longer an oil well. Also they say it is the only “Main Street” oil well. I worked in the San Andres field in the Permian Basin of Texas. They had wells drilled in several streets. That’s right, they just took over the whole street. None of the wells were on “Main Street” though.

Hey you know who else is from Barnsdall?

Yep, Clark Gable lived there for a few years when his father worked in the oil fields. I’m telling you Barnsdall is a good place to be from.

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Barnsdall turned out to be a good place for sign photos.

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The original name for Barnsdall was “Bigheart” it got changed about a hundred years ago.

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The downtown area had some old buildings and interesting signs.

Barnsdall is a nice little town with a lot of history. For one thing it is where my employer, ONEOK, got started way back on October 12, 1906 with a pipeline that moved gas from the Barnsdall area to Oklahoma City.  The company history is wild and wooly reflective of the booms and busts of the energy industry. I love it. Check out a slightly outdated version here.

Oh, by the way, Where are you from? I’m from Espanola, New Mexico originally. My parents lived closer to Santa Fe but Dad called around while Mom was expecting and Espanola was birthing babies cheaper. Kind of set the tone for my whole life. I’ve been looking for deals ever since.

Signs, Signs

Our World – Boston Avenue Church

Boston Avenue Church

Boston Avenue Church is one of my favorite subjects and used to be the Yogi family church. It is an art deco design structure completed in 1929. The architects of the church are Bruce Goff and Adah Robinson. The interior is just as beautiful as the interior. If you want to see it the Church offers tours after the 11 AM service on Sundays.

Our World Tuesday

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