Thursday, April 14, 2011

OKC is A-- OK!

We continued to explore the OK City area. We found several good restaurants and brew pubs in the city. Bricktown is an old warehouse district that has been turned into a commercial development of bars, a convention center, restaurants, motels and an arena. This area seems to be doing very well even in today's economy. Bricktown Brewery has a small selection of their own micro beers while the Tapwerks offers an extensive selection of over 100 drafts and even more available in bottles. Both had a nice selection of pub grub.
Near Bricktown is a sculpture depicting the 1889 Oklahoma land rush. The sculpture is not expected to be finished for several years as more pieces are added. The land rush took place on April 22, 1889 when "unassigned land" in Indian Territory was opened to homesteaders who could claim up to 160 acres to farm. More than 50,000 people took part in the rush and the few who hid in the unassigned areas and claimed the best land became known as Sooners, because they left sooner than was allowed. The sculpture and Bricktown are great places to visit. Another day we drove to Guthrie, the first capital of Oklahoma, that has the largest collection of Victorian Buildings on the National Registry in the US. Guthrie was one of the sites where people could register their land rush claim at the government land office and the town grew from nothing to a city of 10,000 overnight. This is where the expression "doing a land office business" came from. Within four months of the rush there were 6 banks, 16 barbers and blacksmiths, 17 carpenters, 15 hotels, 80 restaurants (bars) and 81 lawyers listed in the City Directory. Above is the Pollard Theatre and Inn on the corner of one of several blocks of restored and well preserved buildings.
A few of the buildings in Guthrie. Top is the Rite Masonic Temple which is one of the largest in the world. It cost $2.6 million in the 1920's when it was built during the oil boom. Middle left is the Carnegie Library, the first in Oklahoma. Middle right is the State Capital Publishing Building where the territorial and early statehood printing was done. Bottom left is a city block. Bottom right is the Blue Belle Saloon a bar where actor Tom Mix once worked.

The statue is the marriage of a cowboy and an Indian that represents the union of the two territories to become the state of Oklahoma. Bottom left are a few of the fiddles in the Double Stop Fiddle Shop. Center top is Ray Dorwart a local boot maker. To make a pair of boots Ray takes eight different measurements of each foot and makes a set of lasts for every costumer. Each pair takes forty hours and costs $2800.00. He is so busy he has an eight month waiting list. Bottom right is an 1890's dental office, oh the pain!! Top right is the Frontier Drugstore Museum, an interesting stop that had everything on display from bottles of Wildroot Cream Oil, like my father used, to Hadacol, a "snake oil" made by Dudley J. LeBlanc from Erath, Loiusiana. All of these places are worth a look if you pass through Guthrie.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum offers a great look into life in the West. There are several galleries of Western art with many works by Charles Russell, Frederic Remington and others. (no pics allowed) Above are a few of the Indian artifacts on a map of all the native cultures in North America. The statue, The End of the Trail, at the entrance symbolizes sadness of the Indians as the buffaloes were hunted to near extinction, thus ending their way of life.
This gallery shows the movie cowboys and how the life was depicted in the Western shows. The statue is Marion Morrison, better known as John Wayne, whose home we visited in Winterset, Iowa. The top pictures are William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), Gene Autry and Milburn Stone. Bottom are Tom Mix, Will Rogers and Walter Brennan. This room sure brought back memories of watching Saturday morning TV as a kid.
This gallery was about the cattle drives and was what the real cowboy life was all about. The drives brought thousands of cattle from the west to markets where they could be shipped to the consumers in the East. There were saddles, a chuckwagon, branding irons and many other artifacts. There is a huge display of barbed wire that enabled farmers to put up cheap fences ending the way of life of driving the cattle across open land.
Other galleries were about rodeos and the cavalry. There is a small 1900 Western cattle town, Prosperity Junction, that has all the buildings you would have found there including a saloon, school, livery stable, bank and many other buildings. The museum gives a great look into the cowboy life and the Western cattle culture.
Another interesting place in OKC is Stockyard City. Here you can watch the cattle auction on Sunday and Monday (we didn't), buy all the Western clothes you need (we didn't), enjoy the art (we did) or have a great steak (I did). We ate at the Cattleman's Steakhouse, a 100 year old restaurant, where the Double Deuce handcrafted beer and the strip steak were absolutely wonderful. The 33 brand in the restaurant symbolizes the "hard six" double threes rancher Gene Wade rolled at a dice game in 1945 to win the restaurant. The cafe part of the building has looked the same for over fifty years so ask to be seated there if you visit.

We had a great time in Oklahoma City. This is a place we will return to in the future.

1 comment:

Jim and Bobbie said...

Very interesting post, Jim. We really enjoyed the river boat ride at Bricktown. There are many of those sculptures on the boat ride...very interesting.