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OKLAHOMA CITY TOUR

Visits to the Capitol, the State Museum, the OK City National Memorial, the Cowboy & the Western Heritage Museum

semi-overcast 90 °F

"Howdy, Y'all";

Today was a full day. My first stop was at the State Capitol building where I received a docent-led tour of the building. The gentlemen docent was a retired college professor (Ph.D.) and very knowledgable. The building is currently undergoing a three year $250+ million repair and restoration so we walked around the scaffolding, etc. as he explained Oklahoma, its history, its people, etc., to me. I mentioned the 'Trail of Tears' yesterday and although thousands of Indians died along the way 5 major tribal units survive to this day; Cherokee, Osage, Cheyenne Araphao, Comanche Apache, & Chickasaw. He said that today nearly everyone in OK has Indian blood in their veins. It being a land-locked territory with poor transportation before the railroads came, marriages of whites and Indians were common. OK's Capitol is the only one with producing oil wells both on the north and south side of the building. OK City literally sits on a subterranean sea of oil.
The structure is of Indiana limestone, as are most Capitol buildings due to limestone's resistance to the weather. Inside it is decorated in Alabama & OK pink and black marble. The building was completed in 1917 without a dome, as was planned. Lack of funds prevented the completion. Private funds were later raised and the project was finally finished in 2002. The 157' dome is topped by a 17' Native American bronze statue. OK's Indian Heritage is proudly displayed throughout the building. The Governor, the Senate, and the Legislature all have term limits, 12 yrs. for Senate and Legislature, and 8 yrs. for Governor. Great concept!

My second visit was to the State Museum located near the Capitol in a beautiful modern building. A large emphasis was on their Indian heritage with half of the ground floor devoted to that. The other half dealt with the history of Free Enterprise and OK as the Crossroads of Commerce. The second floor of exhibits dealt with the Land Runs (homesteading), Farm & Ranch, a Sod House, Law & Order (the old west), Oil & Gas, the Civil War, and the Military contributions including Astronauts and NASA Engineers made by "Okies".

From there I drove downtown to visit the National Memorial Museum, the site of the April 1995 bombing of the Federal Building where 168 people were killed. A beautiful memorial park has been established with a large reflection pool in the center. Adjacent along the pool are bronze engraved chairs with the names of those who perished that day. It was very moving and very beautifully designed. Inside the story was traced in chronological order events leading to that moment of explosion, and the aftermath of rescue, finding and removing remains, and capture of those responsible.

With some time left, it was about 3:00 pm, I drove to the Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum not knowing what to expect. Boy was I surprised. It is a huge facility, a National Heritage site, and first-class, obviously well funded. Inside there were hundreds of western paintings and sculpture from leading artists including Frederic Remington, and Charles Russell. The paintings, many of which were available for sale, had prices of $25,000., $50,000. or more. None under $10,000. Also, a gallery had a full-size western village typical of small settlements in the old west. An extensive gun display was featured with rifles and hand guns manufactured by Colt, Remington Arms, Marlin, Savage, and others of the period. Hollywood romanticized the old west in movies. Actors like John Wayne, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, William Boyd (the Lone Ranger) and others popularized this era in the 1950's & 60's. It was an unexpected treat to have spent the time touring.

A friend from back home e-mailed me about a steakhouse in 'Stockyard City' that she patronized over 42 years ago. She said the food was great and while working on a week's assignment in the city at that time she went back each night to dine. It is amazingly still in business, the Cattleman's Cafe. I decided to try it and my steak was a '10' in tenderness and flavor. The home-made rolls were fantastic, too. A glass of wine, but no dessert! What a great meal!

Posted by dixter 18:48 Archived in USA Tagged museum 4 visits

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