National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
This monstrous 220,000 sq-foot complex, once known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame, was inaugurated in the 1950s with a large parade featuring John Wayne. Under its roof you will find the premier collection of fine Western art and history in the United States, as well as a 14,000 sq-foot turn of the century cattle town.
Hours: 9-5 daily.
Fees: $8.50 adults, $7 seniors, $4 children 6-12, free to children under 6
Those visiting Oklahoma City...
Those visiting Oklahoma City will notice no shortage of dining establishments, but finding the local 'jewels' in the jungle of national chain restaurants might not be so easy to do. Two restaurants that offer great food and some local flavor are Cattlemen's Steakhouse and Ted's Cafe Escondito.
Cattlemen's has an 'old west' lore. Its ownership once changed hands in a poker game in the early 1900's. Also, until his death several years ago, the longtime owner would greet customers nightly from his rocking chair on the restaurant's front porch. The rocking chair, now empty, still greets customers every night. Cattlemen's sits at the entrance of the Oklahoma National Stockyards so the beef, as you might infer, is very fresh. Order a steak - any steak - and compliment it with a baked potato and salad (w/ Cattleman's original salad dressing). There are roughly 2.2 billion Mexican restaurants in Oklahoma City, but none is more popular than Ted's. Order whatever entree you would like, but you'll likely fill up on the homemade flour tortillas, chips, salsa, and queso appetizers.
Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Started in 1914 and technically not finished until 2002, Oklahoma's state capitol was a long time in coming to completion. What took so long? Well, the orginal plans called for the building to have a dome, just like the capitols of most other states and the nation. But funding problems and steel shortages during WWI caused the state to complete the building in 1917 without the planned dome.
Fast forward 72 years and the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, formed to plan celebrations leading to Oklahoma's statehood centennial in 2007 endorse efforts to raise private funds to complete the dome. Construction on the 157 foot dome, topped by a 17ft. tall statue of a Native American, "The Guardian," was completed and dedicated on November 16, 2002, Oklahoma's 95th Birthday. The dome caps a building with over 11 acres of floor space and 650 rooms. The building is more than 300 feet deep and 422 feet wide. Hand carved and hand painted details abound throughout.
There are several beautiful and historic murals including one painted in Paris, France by Gilbert White in 1921, honoring WWI veterans . The rotunda contains four murals chronicaling various chapers of Oklahoma's early development. Below the murals are four large portraits of famous Oklahomans: Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary; Will Rogers, famous entertainer and author; Olympic champion Jim Thorpe,and former U.S. Senator, governor and oilman Robert S. Kerr.
Speaking of oil and gas, perhaps the most unusual claim of the Oklahoma State Capitol is that there are several producing oil wells on its grounds. Also on the grounds are several large statues and a plaza containing the flags of each Indian tribe with headquarters in the state.
Since its reconstruction, the First United Methodist Church enjoys a distinguished profile in the downtown area. Sporting a significant rose window both on the front facade and its western side, the stained-glass representations contest the stained-glass windows of the First Baptist Church in this regard. The effects are particularly sharp at night.
Oklahoma's Capitol City
Although I have long known that Oklahoma City has some attractions worthy a visit, usually it has only been a milestone or fast-food stop en route to another location. However, as Nancy and I headed home from our spring break road trip in March of 2004, we promised each other that we would stop in OKC just long enough to see a couple of sites - the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the state capitol building, and the Western Heritage Museum.
Oklahoma City appears to be a progressive city with a bustling downtown, and a number of attractions other than those we had time to visit. It has been, and remains to be, a very friendly city.
The accompanying picture is a re-touched digital photo I took of the individual memorials to those who perished in the horrible bombing of the federal building in 1995.