Monday, January 27, 2014

Pawnee and Ponca City

What a beautiful weekend!   Saturday, I thought, was especially nice.  That's hard to believe, now that its Monday, with clouds, strong winds, and temperatures in the teens.   Will this winter ever end?   I know we still have February to go, but I'm hoping. . .

Meanwhile, back to the beautiful weekend.  Ron M. and I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip to celebrate balminess.  Vaguely pointing the car toward Ponca City, we took the smaller roads and thus found some interesting sights along the way.  I had only been to Ponca once, many years ago, and just for a drive-through.   It's about 90 miles from Tulsa, so it would be a full day's drive the way we ramble, which means stopping a lot to see interesting things.

The first little town we encountered was Pawnee, home of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show.  Pawnee Bill  (1860-1942) started out in the late 1800s working with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show and later formed his own.  His ranch is now open during tourist season and besides lots of animals (buffalo, longhorns, horses), a show is produced there in a small arena in front of this backdrop.
I liked the reverse side of the backdrop.  It reminded me of the sets for old cowboy movies.
The livestock was allowed to roam, unfenced, as we drove through the pastures.

The City of Pawnee was interesting itself.   Built around a large square, an amazing number of old buildings remain intact, something not often found in older towns in Oklahoma.
 The old City Hall building remains, with a newer one right next door.
 The Roadhouse Hotel sign is still hanging on a rather dissheveled building.
I especially loved the "Steam Laundry" building -- dated 1911.
And incidentally, Pawnee is also the birthplace of Chester Gould, who was the creator of the Dick Tracy comic series.  

From Pawnee, we roamed the countryside on the way to Ponca City.   We passed the famous 101 Ranch -- or rather, the site of the ranch, since it's been gone for years.   The Miller Brothers owned 110,000 acres of ranchland, and eventually they also held a Wild West Show of their own.   There's nothing left of the ranch now except a monument and a gateway, but Michael Wallis has written a very interesting and detailed history of the historic property (Wallis, Michael (2000).

In Ponca City itself, we were eager to view the famous Pioneer Woman statue. . .
. . . and the enormous Marland Estate, a Mediterranean Revival mansion built between 1925 and 1928 by oilman E.W. Marland.   Quite impressive.
From there we headed for home.  If I had the time and the energy today, I would have written more explanations of what we saw and did.   However, everything I mentioned is fully covered in Wikipedia, so I'm going to play the lazy blogger and stop here.  


Susan Yates said...

Laurel, you and Ron visited some of my favorite places. I'm fascinated by the 101 Ranch's history and am still haunted by my visit to the ranch site with just enough ruins remaining to help picture where things used to be. It would be worth a trip back to Ponca City to see the collection of 101 artifacts housed on floor of the Marland Grand House Grand House (his first big home in Ponca on Grand Ave., not to be mistaken with the Marland Mansion). And Pawnee Bill's!! In the past 40 years I've been to the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum at least 20 times, taking every out of state house guest I've ever had. May I add a slight correction to your post that indicated that the Ranch House and Museum are open during tourist season. Unless something has changed since the Oklahoma Historical Society updated their web page on Pawnee Bill's, the Ranch and Museum are still open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas as they have been since before my first visit in the early 70s. There are adjusted hours during the winter months, but docents are there to conduct tours every day. Here's the schedule:
Museum Hours
November to March Wed - Sat 10am to 5pm
Sun 1pm to 4pm
April to October Tue - Sat 10am to 5pm
Sun - Mon 1pm to 4pm

Laurel said...

Susan - We were actually at Pawnee Bill's on Sunday considerably before 1 p.m. so that explains why it was closed. We had already decided not to go in, however, due to my inability to navigate with my weak walking skills these days.

We passed the Marland Grand House, and pulled into the parking lot to have a closer look, but it looked closed, too. I guess Sunday mornings aren't the best times to visit museums! Well, I'm more of a "view from the car" person these days anyway. Both Marland abodes were quite impressive.

Thanks for your information, which I hope will reach others who wish to visit these interesting sites.