June 13, 2018
On our second day in Oklahoma, we picked up a comprehensive Oklahoma Route 66 brochure, listing 95 sites! Unfortunately, we didn’t have that on the day we crossed the border into the state, so I am listing a few that may be of interest here:
Roger Miller Museum
101 Sheb Wooley Ave.
This museum is dedicated to the songwriter/entertainer Roger Miller, a native son. There is DVD footage on a big-screen TV showing Miller’s past performances as well as tributes to him by colleagues. There is, of course, a gift shop.
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
North of Route 66, about two miles west of Cheyenne, OK is the site of Lt. George Custer’s Nov. 27, 1868 early-morning attack on the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle. Run by the National Park Service, the site overlooks Hwy 47A and there are exhibits, ranger talks, a 27-min. film, and a 1.5 mile self-guided trail. Admission is free. For more information or to book a tour, call 580-497-2742.
In Sayre, OK are four places of interest:
Sayre RV & City Park – at Hwy 283 S., Sayre; nice collection of vintage. 580-928-2260
Beckham County Courthouse – at 104 S. 3rd, Sayre; built in 1911, it’s best known for its appearance in a 30-sec. scene depicting the Joad family’s western journey in the film The Grapes of Wrath, based on John Steinbeck’s novel. 580-928-2457
Shortgrass Country Museum – 106 E. Poplar, Sayre. Admission is free at this museum about all aspects of early-day life on the shortgrass prairie. 580-928-5757
RS & K Railroad Museum – 411 N. 6th, Sayre; model train museum with nearly 300 specimens in various gauges and a lot of train memorabilia. 580-928-3525
We stopped briefly in Elk City, home of the Farm and Ranch Museum, Old Town Museum Complex (2717 W. 3rd, Elk City) which includes the National Route 66 Museum and others (580-225-6266). Country Dove Gifts & Tea Room is famous for their homemade French silk pie, at 610 W. 3rd, Elk City (580-225-7028).
The tiny town of Canute (exit 47 off I-40) has several off-the-beaten track historic sites, including a 1930s WPA Park, a cemetery with a 1928 grotto, a 1918 jail and two defunct old motels with their neon signs.
Clinton (exits 61-69) is where you will find the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum (2229 W. Gary Blvd., Bus. 40). It has been completely remodeled and takes you through the entire history of the Mother Road, decade by decade. See vehicles and hear music. There’s a replica of a drive-in theater, the gift shop resembles an old fashioned curio shop and has a wide selection of souvenirs and gifts. 580-323-7866
I was interested in this museum but it was almost 3:00 pm, and we wanted to get to Oklahoma City in time to visit the capitol, so we bypassed Clinton.
Besides the above, in Clinton you will also find the Mohawk Lodge Indian Store, (22702 Route 66 N., Clinton) established in 1892 – the first and oldest Indian trading post in Oklahoma. 580-323-2360
The next attraction for us was the Pony Bridge, which crosses the Canadian River near Geary. It is 3,944.33 feet (1202.23 meters) long and contains 38 pony trusses, making it the longest truss bridge in Oklahoma. It was also featured in The Grapes of Wrath. It was built in 1933 to support a realignment of Route 66 and is one of the longest bridges ever constructed on the Mother Road. Take exit 101 off I-40, go north on US 281/SR 8 (Historic Route 66).
Stay on Route 66 to mile 108, the town of El Reno. We breezed through it, (not knowing about its attractions), but there are several places of interest:
Historic Fort Reno
7107 W. Cheyenne St.
El Reno, OK
Several of its structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. This military post was established in 1874 to provide security in Cheyenne and Arapaho lands. In 1908, it was converted to one of three Army quartermaster remount stations and also served as German prisoner of war camp during World War II.
Canadian County Historical Museum
300 S. Grand
This museum sits on the 98th meridian, which divided unassigned land in central Oklahoma from Cheyenne & Arapaho lands in western Oklahoma. Including the El Reno Hotel, built in 1892 which is on the Historic Register of Historic Places, it has several building on its campus, including a depot, barn, jailhouse, church and one-room school. It has been rated one of the outstanding museums in Oklahoma.
Chapel Creek Winery
5005 Darlington Road
Located on the Redlands Community College campus, it has an old Spanish-style chapel built in 1913, which serves as one of the trademark symbols for wines produced here. You can buy gourmet goat cheeses from the on-site goat dairy.
If you are hungry by now, try El Reno’s fried onion burgers at Robert’s Grill, Sid’s Diner or Johnnie’s Grill.
Upon arrival in Oklahoma City, we headed to the state capitol (in a separate post), then to the Milk Bottle Grocery, originally a small grocery that is now on the National Register of Historic Places. This “famous Route 66 icon” is a small triangular building with a large milk bottle on top. I pictured something more exciting than what it actually looked like when we arrived at 2426 N. Classen Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
Although the building was nothing spectacular, the Braum chain of dairies turned out to be common in Oklahoma and Missouri and had excellent ice cream!! I highly recommend it!
At some point we stopped in at a tourist center, where we picked up a free booklet, Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip, which had many more interesting sites than our AAA guide. Unfortunately, because we were hungry and tired by that time, we did not visit some of Oklahoma City’s other landmarks:
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum honors the victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, and educates visitors about the impact of violence, inspiring hope and healing through the lessons learned by those affected. 620 N. Harvey Ave. 888-542-4673
Route 66 Park has n observation tower, large playground, amphitheater, walking trails, and Route 66 Plaza. 9901 NW 23rd St. 405-297-2211
Gold Dome Building, 1122 NW 23rd St., 405-626-7000 – large geodesic dome and major landmark along Route 66. The Gold Dome was constructed in 1958, designed by Buckminster Fuller.
Bricktown Entertainment District – converted warehouse district, contains restaurants, shopping, nightclubs, public art, water taxi tours, 16-screen movie theater and more. East of downtown Oklahoma City. 405-236-8666.
We checked into our usual Best Western hotel, and found out our room was on the second floor and the elevator wasn’t working! We insisted on a first floor room and ended up in an upgrade (at no extra charge) – a room with a jacuzzi!