10 Apr Route 66 Oklahoma: the route, the stops, the attractions
Route 66 Oklahoma: from Galena (Kansas) to Texola
Travel time: roughly 6 hours and 40 minutes, easily split over two or three days
THE ROUTE, THE STOPS, THE ATTRACTIONS
Chelsea (roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes): you’ve officially arrived in Oklahoma and here’s another bizarre destination to reach, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park (21300 OK-28 A, Chelsea). A park extending over an area of roughly 57,000 sq m, consisting of 11 unique structures, including the largest cement Totem in the world. This Totem is made of 6 tons of steel, 28 tons of concrete and 100 tons of rock and sand. Its construction was completed in 1948.
Catoosa (roughly 45 minutes): take a detour to Catoosa to see the famous Blue Whale (2600 OK-66, Catoosa), one of the most recognizable and photographed places on Route 66. It was built between 1970 and 1972 by Hugh S. Davis as an anniversary gift for his wife Zelta; it’s easily recognizable from the road. This is also the perfect place to have a nice picnic in the park that surrounds the Blue Whale.
Tulsa (roughly 20 minutes): in Tulsa there are several unique Route 66 attractions. By car, go to the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza (1324 Southwest Blvd, Tulsa), in the square you’ll find the eight flags of the Route 66 states, a bridge dedicated to the Mother Road that crosses the street and a bronze statue representing “East meets West”. Just up ahead, stop to admire what are defined as Route 66 numbers 1, 2, 3 (2501 Southwest Blvd, Tulsa), three sculptures which the city of Tulsa decided to dedicate to Route 66. Located in the historic Howard Park, the three limestone columns were built by the sculptor Patrick Sullivan and are roughly 3 meters (10 feet) high. I suggest you end the visit at the Tulsa Route 66 Gateway Arch (4261 Southwest Blvd, Tulsa). Built in 2014, the Mother Road sign, which is 12 meters (39 feet) high and over 14 meters (48 ft) wide, illuminates the road. And finally, next to the arch you’ll see the work by artist Eileen Gay called “Floating Hanger”. Inspired by the idea of machinery in movement, the sculpture celebrates the history of oil and transportation in the city as part of Route 66, through images and mechanisms.
Sapulpa (roughly 15 minutes): here’s another record, the World’s Largest Gas Pump, (13 Sahoma Lake Rd, Sapulpa). Located opposite the Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum, it’s definitely worth taking a photo before proceeding to the next stop.
Oklahoma City (roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes): you’ve finally arrived in the state capital of Oklahoma, it’s worth staying over a day for a little bit of sightseeing. There are several attractions worth visiting, not all of them are related to the Mother Road. Must sees are:
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, a museum dedicated to the Far West and native American indians.
- Oklahoma Railway Museum, a museum that collects, preserves and interprets artifacts and structures of rail transport in Missouri, Kansas and Texas between the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Paseo Arts District, the city’s artistic district. The area is home to more than 22 galleries and exhibits works by over 80 artists. The first Friday of every month all the galleries are open from 6 pm to 10 pm for the Art Walk; a walk immersed in art.
- Bricktown Entertainment District. Give yourself a ride in the Bricktown Water taxi through the neighbourhood and, when it’s over, enjoy this part of the city which is famous for being Oklahoma City’s most fashionable entertainment and dining district.
Hydro (roughly1 hour): stop over and admire Lucille’s Historic Highway (3124 Route 66, Hydro). Built in 1927 and purchased by Lucille and Carl Hamons in 1941, this station on Route 66 was converted into a Roadhouse in 2006.
Elk City (roughly 50 minutes): a must stop is the National Route 66 & Old Town Museum (2717 W 3rd St, Elk City), the incredible reconstruction of a 1930s town. From the life of Oklahoma pioneers to the life on the farm, from the ranch to the blacksmith, from transportation to the diner where you can eat while listening to a jukebox that still works: a return to the past that is definitely worth checking out.
Texola (roughly 40 minutes): its motto is “There is no place like Texola”. Practically considered a ghost town, its population has gone from 581 inhabitants in 1930 to less than 50 in 1990, and currently only 36. Stop to have a look at the remaining buildings, the One-Cell Jailhouse (the local prison consisting of a single cell) and The “Magnolia” Gas Station. What better way to say goodbye to Oklahoma?