After leaving the smallest state in Kansas Route 66 we head to Route 66 Oklahoma! It was really noticable to see how the states were different. This sounds like an odd statement I know to make but in the way of the towns, the make up of the farm land and just what you saw. As you move further West on the route you see how each different state treats Route 66 and what they have as important.
Oklahoma is no different to this. As the famous song goes "Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain" and I really felt that I noticed this that things were more spread out and there was more farming in the state than perhaps than we had seen before.
When we went there had been some really bad flooding in the state so we had to miss out some bits as were diverted sadly. The floods were just sad to see how this had affected the local population.
Read on to find out about Route 66 Oklahoma!
Getting into Oklahoma Route 66
There is quite a lot to see in Oklahoma as you make your way through the state. Obviously there is a lot to see and do when you get to the state capital Oklahoma City but what as we leave Kansas do we see first?
More old Petrol stations! As you enter the small town of Commerce - you come to a Allens Conoco Filling Station. This was built in the late twenties/early 30's. Now disused (of course) but a great example of the Phillips style stations that popped up with the route. Not much to see or do - but a nice photo opp at the same time.
You head through Commerce towards the towns of Miami (no not that one) and other small towns like Afton, Vinita where again lots of old Petrol stations, cafe's and old signs can be found. Like before - I'm not saying to miss these but after a while they do start to blend into one!
The one that you can miss because it's underground is in the town of Chelsea - where there are a nice set of murals in the underpass. Drive too fast and you'll go past it and miss it, but it's nice to have a look what some of the small towns do go to the effort for. The underpass was made in the 1930's to allow safe crossing of the road for the town's inhabitants. This for me just gives the impression of how busy the route must have been in it's hayday. However today it's been painted up by a local artist who's documented the history of the town.
Just outside Chelsea (and officially it's off the Route) is Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park. This is a park that consists of 11 decorated Totem Poles all made out of Concrete. It's a great photo opportunity! It also for me highlighted some of the quirky nature of what you find on Route 66! The park was added to the Historic Register of National Places in March 1999.
The Blue Whale!
After getting back on to the Route 66 Oklahoma the next main stop you want to be making is The Blue Whale! The Blue whale is one of the iconic stops on Route 66 to be had. It's hidden off the main road (and although signs for it - you'll need to keep your eye out). But it is what it says on the tin. A big blue whale that's sitting on the side of a small lake!
Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale in the early 1970s as a surprise anniversary gift to his wife Zelta, who collected whale figurines. Originally it was designed only for family use but as the attraction gained more and more visitors it was opened to the public. Sadly Hugh died in 1990 and his wife in 2001. The attraction fell into a poor state of repair but in in the early 2010's employees of the near by Hampton inn put a fundraising effort together to restore the Blue Whale to its former glory.
You can now climb over it and walk through it. There are slides into the lake if you are really keen. There are a load of park benches around as well if you want to stop and have a nice picnic!
After the Blue Whale you hit the city of Tulsa. You actually hit a number of Tulsa's on Route 66 but this is the biggest that you'l come across. This is also a town that you know you are on Route 66 Oklahoma! As you come into the town there are signs above the road with the iconic Route 66 Logo. There is also lots to see and do in the town.
The first thing we did was head to the Admiral Drive in Movie theatre. This was our first time at a drive in - but it was great fun to head to the counter, pick up the pop corn, tune the radio in to the movie and settle down for the film! I think that it's one of the things you should do!
Another place to stop at is Buck Atoms Cosmic Curios. There are loads of gift shops on the Route - but I just loved this for some of the weird and wonderful gifts that they have on offer. Also sitting outside is a huge character just like the Gemini Giant and others that you have seen. Although under the impression that it's an old style - it was actually just built and designed for the opening of the shop.
There are lots of other restaurants and old inn's to stop and look at if you wish. However as you start to leave the town you can find the Route 66 Historical Village. It pays homage to the past of Tulsa which made it the oil capital of the world in the early 1900's. There is a huge old steam train as well as a reconstruction of an old petrol station.
We leave Tulsa and head back into the country side and head towards to the town of Sapulpa. Here you'll find a great Motor Museum! The Heart of Route 66 Motor Museum can't be missed. The Worlds tallest gas pump is sitting proud on the hill just outside. Once inside you see the mix of wonderful cars that they have on offer. From really old 1920's cars through to the 50's - 70's and then some nice hot rods as well. As complete Petrol heads we just loved this museum and all it had to offer and wished we had some of these cars in our garage!
On the way out of Sapulpa is the TeePee Drive in theatre. At the time of our journey on the Route it was a run down and closed site. However it's now been bought and it's being re-furbished. Lets hope that it's back up and running soon!
Past Sapulpa is the towns of Bristow, Stroud, Chandler etc... All contain historic artefacts such as old petrol stations, bars, restaurants, motels and museums. We didn't stop at many of these as we were on quite a time pressure but I think it depends on what time frame you are on.
Arcadia Route 66 Oklahoma
The final town to hit before you hit the state Capital of Oklahoma City is the town of Arcadia. Arcadia has the only Round Barns in the USA. It was built by local farmer William Harrison Odor in 1898 using native bur oak boards soaked while green and forced into the curves needed for the walls and roof rafters. It became one of the most photographed buildings on Route 66 Oklahoma. With the demise of Route 66 in the 1960's the bar fell into poor state of repair and the roof collapsed in the 80's. Now local people have restored the building which is used for multiple events.
On the main road as you head out of the town is one of the more modern attractions on Route 66. Pops Arcadia is a modern service station. It's got a quirky blend of classic and modern drinks, pops, and milkshakes. The pops they have is their main claim to fame. We had a great lunch here as well as picking up a good selection of souvenirs. You can't fail to miss Pop's! It's got a large Soda bottle that's lit up with neon at night on the road side.
That's the first half of Route 66 Oklahoma covered read Part 2 where we head to Oklahoma City and the rest of the state!