Route 66 - Part 1
Day 15 Afton to Claremore
55 Actual Miles / 816 Actual Elevation
Before I hit this road this morning I took a moment to visit the Buffalo Ranch which was just across the street from our hotel, The Route 66 Motel, in Afton, OK.
After reading the placque at the Buffalo Ranch, I decided it was time to head out to Claremore, OK.
Between Vinita and Claremore, Old Route 66 survives in regular use as the “Free Road” alternative to the I-44 Turnpike, alternating between two-lane and divided four-lane highway. Between Dead Man’s Corner and I-44 are the pecan groves of Little Cabin Pecan Co., with pecans and pottery.
Will Rogers attended secondary school in Vinita
Birthplace of “Dr. Phil” McGraw of talk show fame.
Barker Gang Gravesite and the Cabin Creek Civil War Battle Site
Eastern Trails Museum - 215 W. Illinois Street [918-256-2115]. The region’s Native American heritage is brought into focus. The exhibit centers on the Cherokee Trail of Tears, which brought the tribe here after a forced march from North Carolina in the 1830s, but the museum also covers the general history of the surrounding area.
Vinnie Ream - [1847-1914] Lavinia Ellen Ream was an American sculptor whose most famous work is a figure of President Abraham Lincoln that resides in the US Capitol rotunda. She received that commission from Congress in 1866, at the tender age of 18. Ream also created a statute of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, for the Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. The Route 66 town of Vinita, OK, was renamed in honor of Vinnie Ream (formerly Downingville).
Clanton’s Café - 319 E. Illinois Street [918-256-9053] “Oklahoma’s oldest family-owned and operated restaurant,” since 1927 Clanton’s has been famous for its chicken-fried beefsteak, served here with mashed potatoes and slathered in peppery white gray. Clanton’s also has good burgers and in case you missed the World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival and Cook-Off held each September. Calf fries are prairie oysters, otherwise known as beef testicles, just so you know.
World’s Largest McDonald’s - straddles I-44 between Exits 289 and 283
Consists of an old mill across the tracks, and the Moose Lodge
The very first oil-patch town and one of the few to have a perfectly preserved example of a 1913
Sears mail-order house located at 1001 S. Olive Street.
Mike considers some headgear for Rich!
Jim models headgear to coordinate with his tiger tail!
Denny and Craig actually do take breaks during their rides and now there is photographic proof!
Chelsea Motel sign
Named for a Cherokee Indian Chief, Dennis W. Bushyhead.
Wanted Poster for Bonnie and Clyde...they sure don't look like Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty...
Bunion Derby - Officially the International Transcontinental Foot Race of 1928. Soon dubbed the Bunion Derby by waggish journalists, the race was organized by C.C. Pyle, and followed the course of Route 66 from southern California to Chicago, and then continued on to New York City, where the race concluded 86 days later, more than 3,000 miles after its start. That is equivalent to running a marathon and a half every day for 86 days. The winner of that race, Andy Payne, grew up on a farm near Foyil, OK, and there is a bronze statue of him beside a Route 66 alignment near the edge of town.
Nathan "Ed" Galloway - [1880-1962] Creator of the folk art collection now known as Totem Pole Park just off Route 66 in Foyil, OK. Shortly after moving to Foyil in the 1930s, Ed began building and sculpting several Native-American-inspired structures, including an eleven-sided "Fiddle House" in which to store the hundreds of fiddles he carved, as well as a 90-foot-tall hollow totem pole completed in 1948. Galloway's heirs donated the property in 1989 to the Rogers County Historical Society, which now maintains the park.
Top Hat Dairy Bar - Small corner store on Route 66 at the junction with Oklahoma State Highway 28A; notable as a landmark for the turnoff to Ed Galloway's iconic Totem Pole Park.
The Tin Foyil Cafe, Foyil, OK
The Tin Foyil Cafe, Foyil, OK
Totem Pole Park - Nathan "Ed" Galloway began constructing what is today known as Totem Pole Park in the 1930s, when he and his wife first took residence at this property in northeastern Oklahoma. He completed their stone residence in 1937, and then began working on an array of Native-American inspired structures, the most monumental of which is a 90-foot totem pole completed in 1948. Also on the property is an eleven sided building Ed constructed in order to house his collection of handmade fiddles. Totem Pole Park is under the custodianship of the Rogers County Historical Society.
Son of a Cherokee mother and a British Trader named Nathaniel Gist, developed the Cherokee alphabet.
Once was famous for “radium” baths, piped in mineral water discovered in 1903. One dispenser of this “miracle water” was the grand Will Rogers Hotel—now restored as senior living.
Will Rogers Memorial and Museum - 1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd [918-341-0719] Museum and final resting place of humorist Will Rogers. The property was originally intended by Rogers to be his retirement home once his Hollywood career had come to an end.
Lynn Riggs Memorial - 121 N. Weenonah [1899-1954] Oklahoma-born playwright whose 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs formed the basis of the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical production, Oklahoma! The Lynn Riggs Memorial is a small museum dedicated to his life and career in Claremore, OK. The original “Surrey with the fringe on top” from the movie is here.
Green Grow the Lilacs - A play by Lynn Riggs that formed the basis for the 1940s musical entitled Oklahoma! Lynn Riggs was from the Route 66 town of Claremore, OK, and there is a small museum there dedicated to his memory.
Nut House - A store specializing in pecans and constructed of pecan logs cut from the surrounding grove. It is very near the Blue Whale of Catoosa and is notable for the odd assortment of antique vehicles strewn about the grounds, including fire engines, a bus, and a covered wagon.
Will Rogers [1879-1935] - William Penn Adair Rogers was an internationally known humorist, movie actor, and social commentator who had close ties to Route 66. He was born near Oologah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) from parents of Cherokee Heritage. He stared on Broadway for 10 years in the Ziegfield Follies, wrote an immensely popular newspaper column and acted in over 70 Hollywood movies. He purchased property in the Route 66 town of Claremore, OK, which he intended one day to be his retirement home. Sadly, before he could retire, he was killed in a plane crash in 1935. That property is now the location of the Will Rogers Memorial and the family tomb. Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was named for him, as was the Will Rogers Turnpike, a section of I-44 northeast of Tulsa. He lived his last several years just northwest of Santa Monica, CA, at what is now Will Rogers State Historic Park. In 1952, as part of promotion for a motion picture based on Rogers' life, the majority of Route 66 was quasi-officially nicknamed the Will Rogers Highway.
J.M Davis Arms and Historical Museum - 333 N. Lynn Riggs Boulevard [918-341-5707] Besides on of the largest and most comprehensive gun collection anywhere in the world (over 20,000 firearms!) the museum has antique musical instruments, hundreds of posters dating back to WWI, and 1,200 German beer steins.
Hammet House - 1616 W. Will Rogers [918-3417333] Good food and out of this world pies (over a dozen different kinds).
Giant Plastic Boot – Dottie’s Western Wear (south of Patti Page Blvd)
Tomorrow is a rest day and the riders are looking forward to a day to relax off their bicycles.