Tuesday, October 29

Oklahoma History - Northeastern

Tucked into an area that was plagued with murder, money, and mystery*, Woolaroc is a throw back to another era of Oklahoma history...

Woolaroc!  The name is a conglomeration of woods, lakes, and rocks.  At the entrance, they give you a map showing general areas for the various wildlife, and a nice CD to narrate your drive along the five-mile trail.
We saw deer, longhorns, ostriches, emus, and bison wandering freely and undisturbed.  The ranch is designed to make you feel as though you've stepped back in time at least a hundred years, and it does a good job of conveying that spirit.  Along the route, we came to the Mountain Men camp, one of the living history exhibits.
The boys learned about fur trappers and traders, the Mountain Men of the early 1800's, and how they co-existed peacefully with the Native American tribes.  They also learned to throw tomahawks, make a pouch from a turtle shell, and stretch beaver skin.  It was hard to top the Mountain Man exhibit, which was by far their favorite stop on the trail!  We stopped by the petting barn, playground, and bison exhibits.
The mission of the Woolaroc Museum, built by Frank Phillips, founder of Phillip 66, was to preserve the western spirit of Oklahoma for future generations.  Half of the museum focuses on Native American heritage (this part was closed for renovations during our visit), while the other half focuses on the oil industry.

One piece of the museum that we found fascinating was the 1927 Dole Air Race.  Of the eighteen planes entered to fly from northern California to Hawaii, only two landed safely.  Phillips entered the race as a publicity stunt, to get his new oil products into the spotlight; and he won the race in 26 hours, 17 minutes, earning him the $25,000 first prize. 
At his "getaway lodge," which could double for a good-sized hotel, you will see numerous trophies on the walls.  It's difficult to see, but the elephant head on the wall came from the Ringling Brothers circus.  During a poker game one night, he won the entire circus, but later allowed the circus owner to win it back.  When the elephant died, Mr. Ringling had it stuffed and sent to Mr. Phillips as a token of the 'time he owned the circus.'
Not surprising, the thing that the boys remembered the most was the Mountain Men exhibit.  When we got home, they immediately went to make their own costumes and set out on a trip.  They brought their pack, pup tent, (toy) guns, and other necessary items for being successful trappers!  Hubby and I taught them the Ballad of Davy Crockett to sing while they hiked...

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