Woolaroc Museum

Must See: Bartlesville, Oklahoma!

We’ve never been to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve even though it is just a short hour drive from my house. This weekend turned out to be the perfect time to check it out and we were not disappointed!

Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum Company

Frank Phillips lived an exciting life that included owning a barber shop, selling bonds for the bank, opening a savings and trust, and eventually founding Phillips Petroleum Company with his brother, L.E. Frank’s life was full of details that are far to interesting to recount in this blog post. I encourage to visit the website here and learn more about him and why he built Woolaroc!

Wildlife Preserve

Turning onto the property you stop to pay a modest fee of $14 per person (adult price; 12 and under are free). Then you will see almost immediately that your drive to the museum may not be as boring as you imagined. Along the side and in the middle of the road are Buffalo! Lots of them! They were close enough to reach out and touch, but no thanks! I’m certain they would bite, but I was more worried about the smell! They are some filthy creatures.

The first stop on the map we were given at the entrance was a replica of an 1800’s fur trader site. A history enthusiast dressed in period clothing described the type of clothing, tipi materials, and weapons that would have been used. He was interesting and I learned several things. I learned that the Indian men hunted the buffalo but it was the women that skinned, butchered, cooked, and tanned the animal after it was brought back to camp.

Another fascinating thing I learned is that Indians would trade with the trappers and settlers for their canvas. They began using the canvas fabric for their tipi’s instead of the animal hides because it was water resistant like the tanned hide, easier to mend if torn, and infinitely more lightweight. The weight difference was significant because the tee pees belonged to the Indian women and it was their job to put them up and take them down! Wet hides are incredibly heavy; can you imagine that job?!

The fur traders used the canvas for shelter because it could be rolled up quickly and placed on the back of their saddle. All they needed was to drape it over nearby trees or rocks and it would shield them from the rain!

The Room of Women Settlers!

I was completely enamored of this particular room! Along with an authentic stage coach, there were 12 bronze statues that had been entered in a 1927 Pioneer Woman contest. I took pictures of all of them but I’ve included three of my favorites above!

Pioneer life has always intrigued me. The women who came west (and survived) were strong, adventurous and heroic. Yes, surely they were afraid, lonely, and perhaps angry as well but that doesn’t negate the challenges they overcame and the heartache they surely endured while trying to eke out an existence in the wild west!

In 1926, E. W. Marland, founder of Marland Oil Company (later to become Conoco) and at that time one of the wealthiest men in the world, commissioned twelve 3-foot sculptures that were submitted by US and international sculptors as models for the Pioneer Woman statue. Marland paid each sculptor $10,000 for his submission, about $100,000 in present US dollars. The models were shown in Ponca City, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Dallas, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City where they were viewed by 750,000 people who cast votes for their favorite.Hugh Pickens

Each of the statues were to represent a different attribute: Protective, Determined, Challenging, Affectionate, Self-Reliant, Fearless, Heroic, Adventurous, Sturdy, Faithful, Trusting, and Confident. You can learn more about the contest and the statues here.

Obligatory Selfie!

OH! One more picture to share, this is a real Water Buffalo just hangin’ out in the pond chewing on grass. I’ve never seen one that close! Have you? And that’s our historic reenactor shooting a powder rifle.

Next time you’re out this way…

Take a trip to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and see this wonderful treasure. You can plan your trip by visiting here. Unfortunately, We were not able to see the Frank Phillips Lodge or the Wildlife Gallery because — COVID — but hopefully it will be open when you visit.

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