Category Archives: Tulsa History

Tulsa’s Reservoir Hill Airport Arrow

I was on Google Earth the other day trying to figure out how to get somewhere when something caught my eye. It was a a huge tag looking straight up into the sky with the words “Tulsa” and above it a similarly gigantic arrow pointing west. Below is a screenshot from Google Earth.

Tulsa Arrow

I looked at it and zoomed in and out and it looked a little photoshopped to me. You know, just too perfect and too white to be the real thing. By the way that loop road to the upper left of the TULSA sign surrounds a buried water reservoir still in use today. That is why the area is called reservoir hill. That and it is a hill.


So after work naturally I had to run up there and see what’s what. Actually with my bum knee I drove up there and sure enough there is a huge arrow and TULSA sign made out of crushed rock.


It turns out that this is a recreation of another arrow installed right on top of the reservoir back in 1927. It was part of a promotion celebrating a Charles Lindbergh transcontinental flight at that time. It pointed a little to the southeast of the where the present arrow points to which is the Tulsa International Airport. You can see a photo of the old arrow here.


The new arrow was installed a few years ago with some bond money devoted to neighborhood projects. You can read about that here.


It was kind of hard to get an elevated view of the sign and arrow even when I walked up the hill.

I think the whole thing is kind of cool. It is a bridge back to the 1920’s boomtown era and Charles Lindbergh, the oil tycoons that ruled Tulsa then and whose influence is still around today. I had never heard of this arrow before and I pride myself on knowing all sorts of little things about Tulsa.

Do you know any interesting tid bits about where you live that nobody else does?

Our World – Tulsa’s Owen Park


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.


 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.



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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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

Our World – Tulsa’s Perryman Cemetery

Perryman Cemetery at 32nd and Utica is Tulsa’s oldest private cemetery. It was laid out in 1848 by the Perryman family. The Perrymans were mixed blood Creek Indians and held positions of leadership in the Creek Tribe and early day Oklahoma. The Chronicles of Oklahoma has an interesting article from 1937 about the History of the family.


Benjamin Perryman led his family to Oklahoma from Georgia in 1828. He was a chief of the Creek tribe and   the noted early western painter George Catlin painted his portrait.

(from Chronicles of Oklahoma)

The cemetery was a family plot and there are lots of Perryman names on the gravestones. The last burial in the cemetery was in 1941. The Tulsa Historical Society has owned and maintained the cemetery since 1971.


Only about 50 people are buried on the property. Apparently the graveyard was originally bigger than the present fenced area. The speculation is that there are bodies buried in the yards of some of the nearby residences.


Very interesting to me is the grave house over one of the graves. It is only about a two feet tall. I’ve seen many similar structures in eastern Oklahoma at very old cemeteries. I wish I could tell you that I have definitively determined why some graves have them and what the significance is, but I can’t. I have not found what I consider to be a good source of information. I have read a lot of what I consider to be speculation. Some of what I read says that the houses were merely to cover the grave and keep the rain off. Other sources though indicate that the houses are houses for the grave occupant’s spirit.


In the meantime the cemetery is a nice place to go and ponder the meaning of it all. More information can be found in an interesting post from the Forgotten Tulsa blog.

Our World

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Frisco 4500 – Route 66 Village

True Confession Monday today. Mine is, I have a thing for trains. Route 66 Village in west Tulsa  has just the one for me. The Frisco 4500.


Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1942. It is huge! 500,000 pounds!  I found this locomotive during a geocaching expedition three years ago. It was parked in a remote area north of downtown as it was being restored by volunteers. It has since been moved to its present location for display. It is a long term project of the Sertoma Club of Tulsa. See SuperPizzaBoy? He is almost 5’11” (I can still take him though!) and is dwarfed by the wheels of the locomotive.


They also have the Murray Hill, a solarium lounge car built in 1929.


They have an oil tanker and a caboose.


And what they claim is the world’s largest oil derrick.


Route 66 Village is a great stop on old Route 66.

Check out Our World Tuesday

Our World – Tulsa’s Race Massacre of 1921 and Reconciliation Park

One of Tulsa’s best kept secrets is the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park just north of downtown next to ONEOK Field.


It commemorates Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre, according to some, the worst in our nation’s history. It’s centerpiece is the tower above which tells the story of African Americans in Oklahoma.


From when their ancestors were sold into slavery and shipped over to the New World.


To be slaves working in the fields.


It also tells the little known story that many of their ancestors were property of members of the Five Civilized Tribes and came to Oklahoma during the brutal forced march of the Tribes by the US Government known as the Trail of Tears.


There are other statues at the park. The one above is based on the photograph below.

(Above on display at the Tulsa Historical Society, and yes I had permission to take a photograph of the photograph.)


The above sculpture is based on the photograph below. A security guard at the park told us that the man pictured below was killed by a gunshot almost immediately after the photograph was taken. I have not been able to find any documentation of that, but it does make a good story.


The riot left officially 39 people dead, and an estimated 10,000 people homeless. It was obliterated from Tulsa history until 1997 when a state appointed commission convened. They issued their report, “Final Report of the Oklahoma Commission to study the 1921 Race Riot” several years later.

Tulsa-riot-fireImage via Wikipedia

I have other posts about the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Tulsa Hanging Tree
Reconciliation Park Dedication
Brady Theater

Our World Tuesday

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Boots, BBQ, and Boogie at Cain’s Ballroom


The preparations have been going on for some time.

The Yogi’s, Nana, and a few friends went to the Boots, BBQ, and Boogie fund raiser for Bit by Bit at Cain’s Ballroom. The legendary music hall just north of downtown Tulsa.

They had a hard core Country Western Band for the Boogie part, and the dancing part. That’s where the boots come in you know.

Cain's Ballroom Band

The place just drips history,

Cain's Collage Two

Many names from the distant past played there.

Cain's Ballroom Stars

The music is loud!!!

Too Loud Sign

Country Music isn’t my favorite but I’m still of the “If it is too loud, then you are too old.” school. No offense!


Nice, uh, t shirts for sale.


As you can tell, everybody had a good time.

My World Tuesday

“O” is for Ollies Station Restaurant

Ollies Restaurant 1

Last weekend, SuperPizzaBoy and I ate at Ollies Station Restaurant in west Tulsa.

Ollies 2

It is on Route 66 in west Tulsa, on the wrong side of the Arkansas River. The east side of Tulsa is museums, concert halls, and big old huge houses from the roaring 20’s. The west side is refineries, railroad yards, oilfield fabrication shops. That is where the money was made to build the nice stuff on the other side of the river.

First Oil Well in Tulsa County Sign

Ollies has decent food, it has model trains to go with the food.

Ollies inside

Check out ABC Wednesday for my “O”s from all over.