From the Trail of Tears we progressed to learn about the Railroad extension into Oklahoma in the late 1800's, done in order to support the cattle industry. Next it was information on the oil booms 1901-1907 and 1915-1930, then Greenwood's development during this boom and also a short mention of the Tulsa Race Riots. There was an entire room devoted to how the Depression affected Tulsa. Upstairs were may postcards from people working the Oil fields. We found it interesting how postcards then when addressed had the person's name, city and state only. There was coverage of the oil bust of 1982, when Tulsa was surpassed as the Oil Capitol of the World. Last there was a discussion on how the city has worked to recover with adding aerospace, internet and telecommunication industries to their mix.
There was a room at the museum dedicated to the Greenwood community. This room showed things like class pictures and a few businesses, and there was a very short mention of the Race Riots. We were so disappointed at how little understanding was portrayed regarding the Race Riots in this museum exhibit. The exhibit served to wet our appetites, however, to go and research on our own further. With what our research turned up, it seemed intentional that the importance of this huge event was played down at this museum. How very sad.
Greenwood was a community in Tulsa that flourished during the Oil Boom. At 11,000 residents, it was the largest of Oklahoma's African American communities and nationally was known as 'Black Wall Street'. Among the residents were several PHD's, doctors, lawyers, and successful businessmen. There were 21 churches, 212 restaurants, 2 movie theaters, 2 newspapers, and more than 400 businesses in this all black community. On May 30, 1921 all of this changed when a young black man (Rowland) riding in an elevator was said to have grabbed a white female elevator operator's arm. Accounts of the incident circulated in the white community, growing more and more horrific at each telling. Tulsa police arrested Rowland. On May 31, 1921 the Tulsa Tribune ran a story that spurred a huge confrontation at the courthouse of both blacks (50-75) and whites (2,000). The whites wanted Rowland lynched, the blacks wanted him to get a fair hearing. Shots were then fired and the greatly outnumbered blacks retreated to their community of Greenwood. In the early hours of June 1, 1921 the Greenwood Community was both looted and burned by white rioters. Less than 24 hours later 35 city blocks were charred ruins. The 'official' report was that 36 died. Note that in 2001(not a typo, yes 80 years later), a state appointed Race Riot Commission found that the actual number killed was much closer to 300. Thousands of Greenwood residents were rounded up and put in tent camps and forced to stay in these camps until a white person would vouch for them. When vouched for, they were allowed to leave but were required to always wear a green card pinned to their clothes, indicating they had been vouched for. While held under guard, their dead were buried in unmarked graves. The accused black man by the way, was eventually acquitted. The events from the riots were long suppressed from history books and both blacks and whites alike just did not talk about the Riots. Whole generations grew up not knowing what really happened even though these Riots were one of the largest racial riots in U.S. history.
Our second Tulsa outing day was set to find the underreported and unusual around the Tulsa Area. (We do that sometimes).
First up was Centennial Plaza along Route 66 in Tulsa. The 8 state flags, represent the 8 states that Route 66 goes through ( Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California) also in the plaza is the East Meets West statue.
Next on this eclectic day's journey was the Artificial Cloud. The Artificial Cloud is 72.5 ft. tall. Created by Native American artist Bob Haozous, it is said to be a silent commentary on man's love for technology and the destructiveness that can come from that infatuation. The surface of the sculpture has been allowed to rust to show the effect of time and the atmosphere. The statue up close has knockers that sound with the hollow nature of the sculpture. And yes, Teri exercised both of them.
Next up was Golden Driller Titanic Oil Man. He was originally constructed in 1953 for a trade show at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. He is the tallest free standing statue in the US. Amazingly, his belt buckle carried the name of a Texas supply company until 1979 when it was changed to say Tulsa. The plaque at his base dedicates him to 'the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God's abundance a better life for mankind'.
Still with us? We said this was an eclectic tour day. Next the Catoosa Blue Whale. The Catoosa Blue whale was originally part of a Children's Zoo. In the 70's and 80's it was a swimming hole and what fun, it looks like it was. You walked through the whales mouth to get to its numerous slides. Sadly, swimming is no longer allowed. But glad the icon was saved as at 80 ft. long and 15 ft. tall, she just simply looks cool! Glad we went to see her.
Next up, the totem pole. pegged at the world's largest. More information on the famous pole can be read at:Totem Pole Nice stop. We talked with the caretaker woman in the gift shop. Seems they can not find someone willing to go to the tall heights to repaint and have only been able to repaint the bottom. A sort of sad story, but we enjoyed our visit with her. She and her husband live on the property and maintain as well as run the gift shop.
Next up Bowling Ball art. Yep, people can think of the most unusual things to do in their retirement. So many things we started out to see were so much more than we expected when we arrived. The bowling ball art house, was one of those things that exceeded our expectations. Over 1500 bowling balls, creating various creations by Chris Barbee. Creative! And we enjoyed.
Last up in our eclectic day tour was the large bull in Oologah. The city of Oologah is presented as the birthplace of Will Rogers. Rogers was born at a ranch 2 miles east of Oologah. It is said that Rogers always told people he was born in Claremore, however, because "no one but an Indian can pronounce Oologah". The large bull we could not find out much about, but he seems to be tied to the storage facility.
The RV Park we stayed at has its own Rodeo ring. On our last day, we went over and watched the Barrel Riding(during the day), and then returned at night to see the really young kids(3-6 years old less than 60 pounds) attempt to ride sheep, and the bull riding. We had a steak dinner at the RV park that was attached to the Rodeo Arena. What a treat to have all this so close. It was a fun day, and should we travel though Oklahoma again, we would stay here for sure.
In summary, we originally thought that Tulsa would just be a very hot stop over as we worked our way towards the balloon festival in NM. But we seriously, had a good time while here.
We are off to Texas.
Golden Driller Man