June 14, 2018
Catoosa, OK has at least 3 attractions worth stopping for:
Interested in river history?
Arkansas River Historical Society Museum, 5350 Cimarron Rd., Catoosa, OK
Ready for a hike and a picnic?
Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, 16150 Redbud Dr., Catoosa, OK
Want to see something kitschy (hokey) that has even appeared on a TV commercial?
Blue Whale, 2600 N. Hwy 66, Catoosa, OK
Yes, this is the one we chose to visit!
This historic, restored Route 66 roadside attraction is no longer open for swimming, but it is open for visiting, picnicking, and of course, taking pictures!
There were a couple of families there when we arrived and we saw that the children were dressed in their bathing suits. I pointed out to one of the moms that swimming is prohibited here. She said she knew that but that they were going to “the pool” afterwards.
There are also restrooms…
The wreck of an old boat and mushrooms, neither of which seem to have any use whatsoever…
Conclusion: The Blue Whale is an altogether kitschy place, a must-see on Route 66!
We breezed through Claremore, passing up these attractions:
Belvidere Mansion, 121 N. Chickasaw, Claremore, OK – 3-story Victorian mansion built in 1907.
Will Rogers Memorial Museum, 1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK – 12-gallery museum containing “extensive & comprehensive collection of art & artifacts pertaining to the inspiring life of Will Rogers.”
J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum, 330 N. J.M. Davis Blvd., Claremore, OK – world’s largest privately owned gun collection with more than 50,000 items. (Darn! I’m sorry I missed this one, although I might have said something offensive about gun ownership and the NRA while there.)
Foyil, Oklahoma is a bit off the beaten track, even off Route 66, but Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park at 21300 Hwy 28A (use your GPS to find it!) is an absolute must-see as one of the kitschiest places I have ever been! Our Oklahoma Route 66 booklet told us about this place: “Listed on National Register of Historic Places, this park’s eccentric totem poles, sculptures & a unique building are a long-time Route 66 icon.”
The building referred to was built with 11 sides and originally was the folk artist’s home, called the “Fiddle House.” It is now a gift shop, which was closed when we got there.
Admission is free – you can just wander the grounds and look at Galloway’s work – and the centerpiece is “The World’s Largest Totem Pole.” I don’t know if this claim is accurate: I saw some very large totem poles in Alaska and British Columbia, but the claim probably draws people to the place.
The “World’s Largest” Totem Pole? Perhaps because of that “antenna” on top…
One thing I can say about it – it definitely is unique!
Lots of whimsical birds…
Sandstone lioness, carving by Ed Galloway, c. 1915, donated by his grandson, Gary Galloway. It looks as though it had colorful paint on it at one time.
There’s a picnic area here, too.
The next place I was sorry to miss was the Cable Creek Civil War Battle Site, just off Route 66 on Hwy 28E in Adair, Oklahoma. By this time, it was late afternoon and we were due in Springfield, Missouri by evening.
We did stop in Miami, OK long enough to take a few photos of the Coleman Theatre (103 N. Main St., Miami, OK), which was originally a vaudeville theatre and movie palace. Its exterior architecture is Mission/Spanish Revival style.
Further down Main St. is Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger joint (915 N. Main, Miami, OK), originally a fast-food chain in the 1960s. Everything is cooked to order and they supposedly have delicious burgers and frozen desserts.
Also in Miami is Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum (128 S. Main St.) which includes over 100 personal items of Evel Knievel, including the super van he used for his Snake River Canyon jump. It also has a large gift shop.
Miami is just south of the border between Oklahoma and Kansas. Route 66 passes through the southeast corner of Kansas, through the town of Galena. In Galena, KS is the Brush Creek Bridge (5.4 miles west of Galena, via SR 66 off SE Beasley Road, which is the historic Route 66). It was built in 1923 in the “Marsh Arc Rainbow” style and is the last of its kind on Route 66. It carried traffic on the 66 from 1926 to 1961, when it was bypassed by the new Interstate 44, but it is still drivable via a one-way road. Below are two photos of the bridge, at left, photo by Guy Randall; at right, by Local Ozarkian Photography; both downloaded from Google Images.
Entering Missouri, we did NOT see the Thomas Hart Benton Mural & Exhibit in City Hall in Joplin, the only autobiographical mural by this Missouri artist (602 S. Main St., Joplin, MO, 800-657-2534). There are other Route 66 related murals at the same location (click on link above).
If you are into knick-knacks, there is the Precious Moments Chapel, at 4321 S. Chapel Road in Carthage, MO, (800-543-7975), which was created by artist Samuel Butcher, creator of the Precious Moments porcelain figurines.
The first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi was fought in August 1861 at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in which over 2,500 men lost their lives. A self-guided auto tour, museum and visitors’ center at this site on the National Register of Historic Places is at 6424 W. Farm Rd. 182, Republic, MO, south of Springfield. Admission is $25.00. However, since it is part of the National Park Service, if you have a lifetime Senior Pass, you can get in free!
We arrived at our Best Western lodgings in Springfield around 6 p.m. This BW hotel has a Route 66 theme in its décor.
We went to the Springfield Brewing Co. for dinner, sitting outside on a patio on the upper level. We watched as ominous storm clouds covered the sky and were able to get to our car just as it started to pour!
Our Route 66 adventures continue in my next Getting Our Kicks post, coming soon!