Route 66 Day 4, Clinton and Edmond, Oklahoma

I can’t believe our final day of traveling Route 66 has come and gone! The time flew by!

We got to sleep in a little bit on Day Four(We didn’t start until 8:45 WOOHOO!!). We had a lot to do on day four though. We set off west on 66.

Our first stop depicted another dying part of our culture: The Drive-In.

Restoration had started on this site, but for some unknown reason it stopped and has since fallen into disrepair again.

This Drive In is in Weatherford(where we departed from). Weatherford is also home to a huge wind farm.

The I-40 Interstate(seen on the left) runs next to 66 in many areas.

Our final destination of the day was Clinton, which is in far western Oklahoma. You can really see the impact that the heat and drought is having on western Oklahoma. It the ground was so dry. One resident(who was 94 years old) told us it hadn’t been that dry since the Dust Bowl. So, needless to say, they are praying for rain in western OK.

Our first stop in Clinton was the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.

This museum was great! It’s a must see if you are ever in western Oklahoma. The museum was opened in 1995 and was designed to look like an old diner.

As I have said before, when Route 66 was decommissioned they took down all the signs on the route. These are some of the signs that were saved. The headquarters of Route 66 used to be in Clinton, Oklahoma.

Clinton, Oklahoma

Clinton OklahomaThe museum takes a look at Route 66 by each decade, starting with the 1920s.

Clinton Oklahoma

The road was built in the 20s and became a national highway in 1926. In 1928, they held the Great American Bunion Derby to promote Route 66. This was a race from Chicago to L.A. 355 people entered and the prize was 25,000 dollars. A man from Foyle, Oklahoma won the derby. It took 83 days!

Unfortunatly, soon after 66 was made a highway the crash of 29 brought America into a deep depression. In the 1930s terrible drought hit the midwest, including Oklahoma. Families fled Oklahoma in hopes of a better life in California. Sadly, for most that was not what happened. In California, the new Oklahoma residents were called “Okies” a term that was once considered derogatory.

In the 1940s things began to look up. When the U.S. got involved in World War II, Route 66 again had a change in it’s traffic.

Gasoline was rationed and most of the traffic on 66 was trucks carrying military supplies.  There were lots of changes going on! Highway patrol was created and it was considered a person’s patriotic duty to pick up a hitch-hiker as he was often a soldier.

The 1950s began Route 66’s Hay-Day

Suddenly there was a new focus on family. Military men, home from WWII, wanted to take their families on vacations down Route 66. It was in this decade that the diner became popular.

In the 1960s Route 66 was still thriving. You could find two types of people on the Mother Road during this decade: Hippies and Families.

Paul McCartney is a huge fan of Route 66. He has even toured this very museum!

In the 1970s we began to see the decline of Route 66. The interstate was built. 5 different interstates eventually replaced Route 66.

This sign was salvaged when the Capitol Motel was torn down in the 70s.

Sadly Route 66 was decomissioned in the 80s.

However, things are looking up. More families than ever are looking to Route 66 as a way to simplify their vacations. In these economic times more families are turning to road trips again.

People are coming from all over the world to experience Route 66. Next week, a tour of 68 people for Norway and Finland will be stopping at this museum. While we were in the museum we met a couple from Spain that was taken Route 66 to L.A.

We continued our journey down to the downtown area of Clinton, and interviewed a lot of people about the history of the town.

We finally traveled back to Edmond, tired, but so excited about our trip.

I have a new appreciation for Route 66 after this trip. There is nothing like it in the world and it’s part of our history. Everyone should travel at least one part of Route 66 sometime in their lives.

Thank you so much to Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education. They never fail to provide quality learning experiences for ALL teachers.

Traveling Teacher signing off from the Mother Road!

Route 66 Day 3, Oklahoma City, Hydro, and Weatherford

Back in the hotel room after another fabulous day on Route 66! I can’t believe we only have one more day of travelling! Time flies.

Today we made our first stop at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. The OK History Center is right next to the beautiful capitol building in downtown OKC.

The museum had a cool exhibit on old fashioned cars. The oldest car there was a 1899 Knox. Back in the hayday of Route 66, automobiles only went an average of 35 miles per hour. Interesting fact: In 1900 there were only about 8,000 automobiles in the United States in 1914 that number almost doubled to about 15,000 and by the time 1920 rolled around there were over 500,000 automobiles in the United States. It sure caught on fast!

During our time at the museum we were able to access their historical archives. Their archives house not just information about Oklahoma, but information from all over the United States. I decided to take a shot at finding some family records. I was so excited to find my Great-Grandfather’s 1920 census records!! He is documented as being 7 years old and having 8 sisters! I was so excited by my find. I made sure to make a copy fore myself before I left.

I also got some GREAT historical photos out of the archives including an add for land and the Oklahoma Land Run, a photo of the Oklahoma Land Run and a political cartoon from the early 1900s.

We spent the whole morning and early afternoon at the Historical Society. Around 2 o’clock we hit the road again.

We were going down the best part of Route 66 in Oklahoma. Lots of great stuff. We passed the old site of the 66 Bowl bowling alley. Unfortunately the building was torn down and is now being turned into a grocery store. Luckily the sign was preserved.

Our next stop was the Lake Overholser Bridge just outside of OKC.

This bridge is currently being restored and made into a pedestrian bridge. This is considered a success story of Route 66. Any time they can preserve a part of the original route, it’s considered a success!

We continued our journey until we came to Bridgeport Hill. This was one of my favorite stops! Why? Because it had a story!

The story is that the hill is so steep that, back in the old days, gasoline would flood the car engines and stall out. So, to fix that problem cars would drive up backwards! Love a good story!

Route 66

This is me at the top of the hill, you can see how the road drops a ways behind me.

Our next stop was yet another bridge. Pony Bridge. Pony Bridge has a little bit more historical significance.

This bridge is famous for being featured in the movie Grapes of Wrath. 

 

What followed was an awesome stretch of road! It is the most in tact portion of Route 66 in the country. For over 18 miles there is original, untouched pavement. The original pavement was made with Portland Concrete and divided into sections. The original lanes were VERY narrow, which made for a few nervous moments! Each lane was only about 9 feet wide, which doesn’t leave much room when you are travelling in a 12 passenger van! Here are some pictures from that stretch of road:

Oklahoma

This is our caravan! 2 12 passenger vans, a Expedition and a cargo van! It’s the only way to travel!

Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains!

Our final stop of the day was at one of the most famous Oklahoma Route 66 stops.

Route 66Lucielle’s Service Station. Lucielle was called the Mother of the Mother Road. Everyone had to stop at Lucielle’s!

The building was built in 1929 but Lucielle didn’t buy it until 1941. She and her family lived above the station. She was famous for selling ice cold beer to anyone who had an ID(even if it wasn’t theirs!)

Business plummeted after Route 66 was bypassed by I-40. Lucielle worked hard at making it a tourist attraction that people would seek out. She operated it for 59 years and died just a few years ago. It is now on the registry of nation historic places.

One of my very favorite things about Route 66 is all the character you find along the way. I’m going to end today’s post with some of my favorite buildings along the way.

Fat Elvis’ Diner!

 

Yukon, Oklahoma, Route 66

El Reno, Oklahoma, Route 66

Don’t remember where this is…..some where on Route 66!

 

Squak n Skoot Chicken-N-More…What’s not to love?!

 

There are lots of murals on Route 66.

I am loving Route 66!!

Tomorrow: Clinton, Oklahoma and then all the way back to Edmond! See you soon!

 

Route 66 Day 2, Chandler and Arcadia

Today was yet again another busy day on the Mother Road.

We started off our day by continuing west to Chandler, Oklahoma. Our first stop was SUPPOSED to be the Chandler Route 66 Interpretive Center.  However, we got sidetracked by an alien exhibit.

You never what you’re going to find on Route 66!

After taking the alien detour, we took one more to see the historic Lincoln Motel.

Motels back then were more like little cottages. There were only a couple rooms per unit.

The Lincoln has been recently renovated and we’re told it’s  a pretty nice motel!

Finally, after our two unexpected stops we arrived at the Route 66 Center.

The Center is located in a building that used to be an armory. The first Oklahoma militia was started in the late 1800s. It stored ammunition and high security items until the 1970s.

We met with a local artist/Route 66 historian and he gave us more history of Route 66 in Chandler. Chandler, unlike Depew, has collectively embraced Route 66 and made it a part of their city’s culture.

After touring the Center, we went out into the downtown area of Chandler to talk about Route 66 with the locals. The people of Chandler are very proud of their history and they are very willing to tell you stories about the building their business now occupies.

Chandler seems to be thriving. I was surprised to see how busy it was! It had traffic that downtown Broken Arrow dreams of! Route 66 is VERY popular with foreign tourists. People from Europe love Route 66. Every place we visited told us that they see more European and Australian tourists every year than American tourists. Crazy!

After our exploration of Chandler, we headed back to the Route 66  Interpretive Center to view the movie Cars.

We then boarded the vans again and headed to Arcadia.

Our first stop was the Seaba Station. It was built in 1924 and was a popular stop on Route 66. Unfortunately there is not much of it left. It was shut down after a fraud scandal and fell into shambles.

 

Our next stop was the famous Arcadia Round Barn!

This is considered a “must-see” on Route 66. The acoustics in the barn are pretty cool. You can whisper and the person all the way across the room will hear you.

This is a popular spot for weddings in Oklahoma.

This is the roof of the Round Barn.

Inside they have books and books of photos of other round barns across the country. To my Wisconsin family: they had a whole binder filled with Wisconsin Round Barns! I got a kick out of that.

So why is it round? Same reason many other old buildings across the country are round. The story goes that the people in the 18th century were terrified of evil spirits. They believed that evil spirits hid the dark corners of the world, so some chose to build their homes(or barns?) round, so there would be no corners for evil spirits. Not sure if it’s true, but I’ve heard the same story in Savannah, Georgia and in Williamsburg, Virginia. Who knows?

After visiting the Round Barn, we stopped at one of my very FAVORITE Route 66 attractions. Pops!

Route 66

Pops is a place you can get “Fuel, Food, and Fizz” on Route 66. They are a gas station and restaurant that has EVERY type of soda imaginable!

YUM! I had a cherry limeaid soda. Fun!

Well that brings us to the end of another day on Route 66. I have to give a HUGE thank you to my friend Tina who has taken ALL of these photos for me since I forgot my camera! Thanks Tina!!!

Goodnight Everyone! Tomorrow: Oklahoma City and Weatherford

 

Route 66 Day 1, Edmond, Sapulpa, and Stroud

 

I always know that when I register for an OKAGE(Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education) workshop, I am in for a treat! After day 1, I don’t this this trip will be any different!

The workshop title is Get Your Kicks on Route 66 the Morphology of the Mother road. Last night I drove to Edmond, Oklahoma(about an hour and a half west of Tulsa). That night we went to one of the coordinators houses and had dinner(Billy Simms BBQ) and met Jim Ross, author of Oklahoma Route 66. He is one of the people responsible for keeping Route 66 alive.

This morning we woke up bright and early and began our curriculum work. We teachers like to get the indoors stuff done first so we can to field study for the rest of our journey. Route 66 played a very important role in Oklahoma’s history. In the late 1920s/early 1930s over 15 percent of Oklahoma fled the depression and the dust bowl and headed west on Route 66 in hopes of finding work. When they arrived in California, unfortunately, they were either turned away at the boarder, were let in and did not find work, or were let in and worked for next to nothing.  In California is where the nickname “Okie” derived.

Our first stop was out in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. In Sapulpa, several stretches of Route 66 are still in tact with the original pavement.

Our first stop was the Rock Creek Bridge.

Sapulpa OklahomaThe bridge was built in 1921 – which actually predates Route 66

Sapulpa OklahomaIn this photo you can see the many layers of pavement that have been patched over the years.

After spending some time at the Rock Creek Bridge, we moved on to Bristow, Oklahoma. Our first stop was at the Bristow Motor Company which opened in 1923. The motor company is still owned by the same family and is now a Ford dealership.

Route 66This company sold the original Model A Fords in the 1920s.

Route 66

After we visited Bristow Motor Company, we went across the street to the old train depot and Pioneer Park.

The train depot is now run as a museum by the Bristow Historical Society. The depot opened in 1923. Gene Autrey was the telegraph operator. Many famous singers would come and sing on the radio. Later, it was used as a Native American trading post. The last train left the station in 1967 and it was turned over to the historical society in 1989.

From Bristow, we headed to the tiny town of Depew, Oklahoma. Depew is a town that pretty much died due to the decommissioning of Route 66 in the 70s. They are slowly starting to rebuild, but it is coming along very slowly.

Route 66

This poor little town was ripped apart first, by the decomissioning of Route 66, then a controversial murder trial.

This is the floor of the entrance to the movie theatre in Depew. It is the only thing left, there is just an empty lot where the theater once stood.

Route 66

Dr. Coppedge owned the pharmacy and the hospital in the town of Depew. The two photos above are of the pharmacy.

There is hope for Depew though. They have started to clean up the city and rebuild some of the historic buildings. The Oklahoma Foundation to Preserve Route 66 has recently gotten involved and they have made a lot of progress.

After our tour of Depew, we head to Stroud. Before today my only knowledge of Stroud was that it was badly damaged by a tornado that went through it in 1999.

In Stroud we stopped at an awesome cafe called the Rock Cafe.

Route 66All of the stone on the outside is original. All of the stone was purchased in the late 1920s for 5 dollars! The owner built it himself. Originally it was called the Rock Tavern, but that was quickly changed when Prohibition came to Oklahoma.

StroudThe Cafe soon became a popular stop for truckers travelling Route 66. The truckers would leave messages for their wives when they got there, then their wives would call the cafe to see if their husband had checked in yet.

Dawn Welch bought the cafe in 1993. The landlord only charged her 200 dollars rent because the Cafe was facing permanent closure if someone did not take it.

Dawn had so many great stories! One day a guy named John Lasseter came into the Cafe. Name sound familiar? Mr. Lasseter is the head of of Pixar Animation. He interviewed Dawn about Route 66 several times over 4 years. It turns out Dawn is the inspiration for the character of Sally in the Disney/Pixar move Cars.  How cool is that?! She got to go to the premeire in L.A. and meet all of the stars of the movie. She said “If it happened to Sally in the movie, it happened to me. Except for the whole falling in love with Lightning McQueen thing.”

If you are interested in visiting the Rock Cafe you can find more information at:

http://www.rockcafert66.com

The Rock Cafe in classic Route 66 neon.

Well, I’m now sitting at the Stroud Best Western, thankful to be in an air conditioned room(There’s another excessive heat warning tomorrow!) and am completely exhausted. Join me tomorrow as we travel further down Route 66 to Chandler, Arcadia, and Edmond. Adios!

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute Day 6, Yorktown, Virginia

The whole teacher institute really flew by! Our last day was, appropriately, spent in Yorktown, the site of the last battle of the American Revolution.

We began the day at a recreation of what the town of Yorktown may have looked like back in the 18th century.

Like most of Virginia at the time, Yorktown produced a lot of tobacco.

 

HogsheadA hogshead is pictured in the photo above. This is how they packed and shipped tobacco in the 18th century.

After exploring the village, we moved on to the American camp site at Yorktown. This is where the army set up camp before, during, and after the seige at Yorktown.

These are the tents the troops would have stayed in at the camp. In each tent they would cram 5 men. 5!

In contrast, General Washington’s tent would have been much more spacious.

Maps and other supplies were also housed in the General’s tent.

These are some of the medical supplies that would have been carried by doctor’s in Yorktown. It was not pretty!

Many women followed the military. They would set up areas like this where they would do laundry for the soldiers.

This is what their oven would have looked like. They ate lots of beans, as you can see in the bottom right of the picture.

Another shot of the kitchen.

In this photo you can see some of the ways they would defend themselves. You can see the armed guard at his post towards the left of the photo. Also, there is a small cannon on the red pedestal towards the center of the photo.

So this cannon doesn’t look like much, but they fired it and it packed quite a punch! Crazy!

Discipline in the camp usually consisted of whipping and humiliation.

After our time at the camp, we traveled to the actual site of the Yorktown battle.

This is part of the actual location where the battle of Yorktown was fought. In the distance you can see Redoubt #10, one of the most important that was taken by the Americans.

This is a close up photo of Redoubt 10. This is a sort of earthworks that the British created. Behind these “hills” they would keep their troops. The spikes protruding from the hill are there for defense. Alexander Hamilton himself climbed up over this redoubt during the battle. The first purple heart was given to a man who went into this redoubt first and survived. To go in first was considered a suicide mission, but he survived. The purple heart back then was the equivalent to the Medal of Honor today. It was the considered the highest honor. Only 3 were given out during the Revolution.

This is the view behind the Redoubt. The 18th century French flag flies at Yorktown as well. This flag marks the location of Lafayette and Rochambeau’s troops. The French played a huge role in Yorktown.

Cannons located outside redoubt 9.

The 18th century American flag flies where the Washington’s troops were located during the siege.

After we toured the battlefield, we were lead to Surrender Field, where Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington.

We were completely silent as we viewed it. No one spoke a word. It was amazing. You could almost see the ghosts of the past on the field.

THere was a pavillion near the field with these two quotes:

After looking around for a while I sat on a bench and wrote in my journal. I was so proud to be an American at that very moment. That place has an amazing energy. You can feel the heaviness of the sacrifices that were made for this country and how our forefathers firmly believed in the idea of freedom.

Every American should go to Yorktown sometime in their lives. It is an amazing experience!

My time at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher institute was an AMAZING once in a lifetime opportunity. This was a dream trip for me and I will always treasure the experience.

 

Road to Revolution, Day 5, Williamsburg, Virginia

On day five we focused on the government influences in the colonies as well as the causes of the American Revolution and Williamsburg’s roll in it.

We started the day at Burton Heights Parish Church. They had a 7:30 service and me and one of my fellow teachers decided to go before breakfast. Burton Heights is the Church of England church on the Duke of Gloucester Street in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg

 

 

This church was attended by the most famous politicians of the time. Of course, back then everyone belonged to the Church of England. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry are just a few of the founding fathers that attended church at Burton Heights.  In fact, George Washington’s step-children(he had no children of his own), Patsy and Jackie Custis are buried at Burton Heights.

Washington Above is a photo of their graves. They are very hard to read as Jackie(the last of the Custis children) Died in 1781. Martha Washington had 4 children from her previous marriage. She was widowed and shortly after married George Washington. Her first two children did not live into adulthood. Jackie, her third child died of a seizure disorder and Jackie died of camp fever at Yorktown. So, sadly, Martha Washington out lived all of her children, as well has her first and second husband. George and Martha did however, raise their two grandchildren.

After the church service, we came back with our group to tour the church.

Williamsburg The church has a traditional 18th century pulpit. The minister still preaches from this puplit.

It’s hard to tell in this photo, but these are the pews. Each pew had a door on it that opened and closed(you can kind of tell at the front where the pew door is open.

On each door is a plate of a member of the church who may have sat there. For example, on one of the doors on the right there is a plate that has the Jefferson family listed.

This is inside the door, where the parish members would sit. The green cushions under the pews are their kneelers.

This is the where the Governor and his family would have sat during the service.  It is to the left of the pulpit.

Confederate Memorial This is somewhat hard to read, but this is a memorial that hangs in the church. In Virginia they are very proud of their southern culture, including their roll in the Civil War. This is a plaque that hangs in memorial of the soldiers who died for the south during the Civil War.

After we toured the church, we got to tour the Capital. The Capital was the center of all government in America until the capital was moved to Richmond.

WilliamsburgWhen you enter the arches, if you go to the left you will find the supreme court.

WilliamburgThis is the place we saw the witch trial. We sat on the benches while court proceeded in the front.  The judge sat in the big chair in the center and the 12 jurors sat on each side of him.

The attorney for the state would have sat at the green table on the right. The accused was not given an attorney and was not allowed to speak in their own defense. They were allowed to question each witness, but that was the extent of their defense. They could call witnesses but could not speak on their own behalf.

Opposite this room, on the right side of the capitol was the seat of government.

The chair in the picture is the original Governor’s chair. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry actually sat in that chair! The representatives sat on the benches on each side of the room.

A painting of King George on the right and the Queen on the left. In the middle, above the doorway is the coat of arms of King George the Third.

In the upper level of the capital are several meeting rooms where the delegates would meet and debate.

After touring the capital we went to lunch and then went to tour the Governor’s Mansion.

All of the Governor’s of Virginia lived in this mansion including Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Also, this is where Lord Dunmore lived during the American Revolution. He was soon driven out of the mansion by the colonists.

Upon entering the mansion, you are in a room that is filled with weapons. going up the walls are swords, muskets and rifles. Many of these are original 18th century pieces. This was done to exhibit the power of the Monarchy and of the English military. It basically said “don’t mess with us.” to anyone that entered the mansion.

This is the Governor’s daughter’s room. The fabric would have been very expensive at the time.

This bed is also in the daughter’s room. It would have belonged to the child’s teacher/caretaker.

This is the sitting room of the palace. The chair belonged to Patrick Henry and the desk to Thomas Jefferson. This room was kept very dark, so it was hard to get a good picture.

The ballroom. Later that evening we saw a program about the dance of the period. It took place in this ballroom.

This is me in the gardens of the Governor’s Palace.

Tomorrow: YORKTOWN!!