As you can tell from the lengthy title we made lots of stops along Route 66 in Oklahoma;-) Oklahoma has the most drivable original miles of Route 66 in the nation. Our first stop was the National Route 66 Museum (there are lots of Route 66 Museums) in Elk City and since it was only 2 hours from closing she gave us a discounted admission price. The complex contained a transportation building with a Route 66 video, the actual Route 66 museum, a pioneer village area, an Oklahoma history museum, the Farm and Ranch Museum, and the working Blacksmith area. We had to use speed reading to get through it all before closing and here are some of the shots. We stayed at the Elk City Creek RV Park that night after getting diesel and food.
The next day was all about driving on Route 66 and seeing some of the sites. First stop was at the Canute Cemetery to see the 1928 grotto which serves as a monument to the settlers of western Oklahoma. In Clinton we went to another Route 66 museum but since it was closed we looked at interesting outside displays. Cool quote by Will Rogers “We are here just for a spell and then pass on… so get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead”. Then we went to the McClain Rogers Park to see the historic neon entrance sign. In the town of Weatherford we went to Heritage Park to see the 122’ long blade from a wind turbine. There are over 98 windmills in this area and we can attest to the fact that Oklahoma is VERY windy. Further along Route 66 we saw Lucille’s classic 1929 Service Station. It is on the national register for historic places because it’s one of the only two out-thrust porch and live over style stations left on Route 66. Our guide booklet talked about the Pony Bridge which is 3,944’ long, spanning the Canadian River, long eh? It has 38 pony trusses and is the longest truss bridge in Oklahoma but there was nowhere along the road to stop for a photo. We’ll have to watch “The Grapes of Wrath” movie again because a scene was filmed at the end of the bridge. We self-registered at Red Rock Canyon SP for two nights and then did the South end of the Canyon Ridge trail and the California Road Nature trail.
The next day we did the North end of the Canyon Ridge trail and the Rough Horsetail Nature trail. We loved the quote in the flyer “Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful example of nature’s art work in Oklahoma”. Along the nature trail we saw Caddo Maple trees, Rough Horsetail Scouring Rushes, two different Box-Head Plunge Pools, and a dead Possum in one of the creeks (I know it’s gross but it is nature). After we finished the trail we walked along the road way and saw a cool rock pillar and some turtles in a pond. This little State Park is very close to Oklahoma City but well worth the stop.
When we left Red Rock our first stop was Arcadia to visit Pops and the Round Barn. Pops has a 66’ tall soda bottle in front and 8000 soda bottle collection inside and over 700 different flavours for sale! Their saying is get your food, fuel, and fizz so we did get some diesel and of course bought some fizz but we skipped the food since it wasn’t lunch yet. Just down the road was the Round Barn which was built in 1898 and then restored in 1992. The barn is 60’ in diameter and 43’ from the foundation to the peak. They rent the loft out for special events like weddings. The first floor has historical information and antiques and the host liked telling jokes. He said what type of dance can’t they hold at the Round Barn, answer SQUARE dance;-)
Our next stop was near Warwick to see the excellent Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum. The original building and back house were built from 1921-1924 (also on the National Register of Historic Places) and then in 1996 restoration began to open the museum in 2000. The collection of over 100 vintage motorcycles was phenomenal dating from 1909 with many different brands, boxed motorcycles, motocross bikes and even the two custom bikes used in the Captain America movies!
In Chandler we saw the St. Cloud Hotel and the Lincoln Motel and then carried on to Stroud to have lunch at the Rock Café where the owner was the inspiration for the Sally Carrera character in Pixar’s movie “Cars”. This café, as well as many other locations on Route 66, have been featured in the Food Network show called Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives ). Sharon had the Reuben Sandwich (which was one of the best she’d ever had) and I had the Jagerschnitzel which came with a large piece of Schnitzel and German Spaetzle which was also very good and very filling! You are invited to sign the walls in and around the bathroom (which we did). We back tracked a bit to visit the Stableridge Vineyards which was in a historic church built in 1902 and we liked (and bought) their Montage wine and their port.
That night we headed up to Prue to what we thought was Walnut Creek State Park because we had read they had Mountain Biking Trails. Well it turned out the State sold off the park so now it was privately run and it turned out the MTB trails were in a different SP! However the location was very pretty so we enjoyed the night there any way. The next day we went to Claremore (Will’s home town) and saw the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and we were surprised by how large the building and grounds were. Slightly off Route 66 was Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park where the centrepiece is the “World’s Largest Totem Pole” which is a 90’ tall sculpture of stone and concrete on top of a concrete turtle. In the 11 sided gift shop they also had a collection of Ed’s woodwork art pieces including over 100 fiddle bases from all different types of wood from around the world. The host had a wealth of historical information about Ed Galloway so it was fascinating hearing the stories. We went on to Vinita to have lunch at Clanton’s Café (also featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) which has been operated by the same family since 1927. Sharon had the Chicken & Dressing lunch which had pulled chicken with gravy and cornbread stuffing and I had the Chicken Fried Steak. They also had Calf Fries on the menu without a description so we didn’t order it and we found out later it was the calf’s privates after castration, good thing we didn’t order it!
Next stop was Afton to see the D-X gas station which was built in 1930. They had a collection of Packard and other vintage cars but they weren’t open on the day we were there. Then we travelled on to Miami to see the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum where their featured area was about Evel Knievel with over 100 of his personal items.
Lastly we went to see the Coleman Theatre which was originally a vaudeville theatre and movie palace opened in 1929 with exterior architecture in the Mission/Spanish Revival style. We lucked out because it was just 20 minutes to closing but one of the volunteers said to come in and he would show us around. The interior of the theatre was in Louis XV design and had been beautifully restored including the 2,000 pound chandelier. The volunteer showed us the mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ and then he let it play music for us and the sound gave you goose bumps all over, incredible sound! That night we stayed at the Grand Lake SP Twin Bridges area and had campsite right on the 150’ cliff overlooking the lake with flocks of circling Pelicans, ducks, and Great Blue Herons. What a fantastic closure to our Route 66 journey through Oklahoma!
Next stop Missouri as we start to wind up this trip.