The settlement of most of the small towns along Route 66 was tied to the railroad. The establishment of Route 66 kept the towns alive and thriving. Some like Vinita are located close enough to the interstate and other roads that the decommissioning of Route 66 didn’t have an effect on them. Others like Chelsea lost most of their businesses.
The Chelsea Motel (with showers!) opened in 1939. The rooms are used for storage now.
Side trip – well worth the 3.5 mile detour off of the route. The largest creation in Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park is a 90’ tall totem pole constructed using 100 tons of sand and rock, 28 tons of cement and 6 tons of steel. Galloway also built a house, a workshop, several more totems and two sets of picnic tables.
When he wasn’t building with concrete he made furniture and carved violins. He built an eleven-sided building to house approximately 300 violins, all carved from different woods. Some are on display in the building which is now a visitor center and gift shop. A gravel path leads past the totem poles to the visitor center. It’s a little hard to push along but doable. The parking lot is large enough for RVs. There’s no admission charge.
The story behind this statue is inspiring. Andy Payne was a 20 year old Cherokee farm boy when he entered the Great American Footrace in 1928. The race started in California and ended in New York, a distance of 3,422 miles. Of the 275 who started the race only 55 finished. Andy Payne came in first, winning the prize of $25,000 which was an enormous amount of money in 1928 as the average yearly salary was only $1,500.
Adobe Village apartments, formerly El Sueno Courts built in 1938, the first motel in Claremont.
Claremont is also the home of the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum which has over 13,000 firearms. Most of them were part of the personal collection of J.M. Davis’s who owned a downtown hotel. We’re not gun enthusiasts but it’s hard to pass up up a free museum. :-D Besides a crazy number of guns the museum also has collections of clocks, musical instruments, campaign buttons, beer steins, mounted animal heads and other stuff.
Their collection of WWI posters is the best and most comprehensive that I’ve seen.
The museum is accessible. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.
One of Oklahoma’s most famous citizen is Will Rogers. We knew next to nothing about Rogers but since he lived during Route 66’s glory days we decided that we had to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Will Rogers was an interesting guy. Both of his parents were part Cherokee and born in Oklahoma (Indian Territory at that time) after their parents were forced to leave the southeast. Rodgers grew up helping on the family ranch and practicing rope tricks. In his early twenties he went to South Africa to work on a cattle ranch and met Texas Jack who had a traveling Wild West show. That meeting changed everything for Rogers.
After working with Texas Jack for a short time Rogers moved onto larger traveling acts, then onto vaudeville which led to a movie career. He also had a weekly radio show and a weekly newspaper column, wrote books and gave lectures. Through it all he remained a down-to-earth guy who assisted flood victims along the Mississippi River Valley in 1927, earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1931 and raised money for drought stricken farmers during the depression. He died in 1935 when the small plane he was riding in crashed in Alaska.
The museum is mostly accessible but some of the ramps are very steep. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.
You can’t help but smile back at this big blue whale. :-) The whale is a recent addition, built over two years in the early 1970s by Hugh Davis who liked to keep busy after he retired. The property is still owned by the Davis family (we had a nice time chatting with his son Blaine) and is free to visit.
The whale is not accessible due to hilly, uneven terrain but it’s easy to see it from the parking lot.
The lot is large enough for any RV.
The closed trading post across the street from the whale was owned by Hugh’s brother-in-law who was an Acoma Indian.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on the outskirts of Tulsa is a good place to stay overnight. Oversized parking is in lot I. The lot has a slope so leveling is necessary. There’s a free dump station and fresh water fill on the edge of the lot.
The casino entrance is a fair distance away and getting to the gaming area requires more travel along hallways so it’s not easy to visit if you use if you have mobility problems.