Wednesday, June 20, 2012

~Welcome to Woolaroc: Part 2~

Last week, I started sharing with you our weekend trip to Woolaroc; the rustic retreat that became a beautiful lodge/museum and game preserve built by Frank Phillips, co-founder of Phillips Petroleum.  Today's post is about our drive through the preserve with most photos being taken from the comfort of our pickup truck as the rules stated we must stay in our vehicles while traveling through the preserve.  I must admit that there are alot of photos and this post is rather long, but there's just so much I wanted to share with you.  Think of it as a little vacation without having to leave the comforts of your home!  So, are you ready?  Come on, let's get started!

When you enter (and leave) the preserve, you are greeted by a statue of an Indian....the red man.  Did you know that name Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw words..."okla", which means people and "humma", which means red?  At the time the preserve was built, Wild West shows and Western movies were quite the rage and Mr. Phillips was intrigued as well.  Building a place with the Western/Indian theme is quite fitting in a state known as Indian Territory.

In this photo, we have a a prairie dog village, a water buffalo and a "zony" (cross between a zebra and a pony).  Other wildlife you might see at Woolaroc also include longhorn cattle, ostriches, Sika deer, Fallow deer, buffalo, elk, Highland cattle, llamas and zebras.  We didn't see very many animals on this trip as most of them were probably in other pastures where it is cooler and offers more shade.

 There are several lakes on Woolaroc.  I don't know if all were man made.  I find it amusing that the lake on the left is called Stone Lake while the one on the right is called Swan Lake.  I don't know if this bridge has walls underneath to separate the two or if there is a spillway that separates one from the other.

Looking far over the right, we spotted this lovely little waterfall around the bend.

 This is the Welcome Center.  The top photo is the backside of the center.  The grounds are immaculate and lovely all the way around.

Mr. Phillips began purchasing bronze statues around 1929.  Several of these statues were purchased around 1940 from the E.W. Marland estate; he was a very prosperous oil tycoon who lived in Ponca City, which is west of Woolaroc.

 This is the museum.  The original hanger was built in 1929 as a place for Mr. Phillips to store his gifts, relics and collection of 'oddities'.  As the collection grew, the hanger turned into a showroom and then into the museum.  I believe the left side is the original building and the expansion took place in 1945.

We didn't have time to tour the museum on the day of our visit, but this excerpt from the website says it all:
"The Woolaroc Museum presents one of America's most unique displays of Western art and artifacts; Native American pottery, baskets, beads, blankets and cultural art; historical displays and one of the most complete collections of Colt firearms. It is one of the most outstanding western art collections in the world that also represents the culture and lifestyles of the people and peoples of America and the American West." ~

 Mr. Phillips was enamored by the Indian culture and had the entry into the museum decorated with Indian inspired drawings that came from an ancient tribe known as the Spiro people.  There was a strong mutual respect and bond between Mr. Phillips and the Indian people.  It was on their land that he found oil but he always dealt honestly with them and gave them the deference they so well deserved.  As a result, the Osage Indians officially adopted Mr. Phillips into the tribe giving him the name of "Hulah-Kihe-Kah"; the name of the chief's deceased son.  He was the only white man to ever have this honor of adoption.

 The first oil derricks were made of wood.  This is a replica of one of the many that dotted the Oklahoma landscape.  It was built to celebrate Bartlesville's centennial and moved to Woolaroc in 2001.

 Taking the drive from the museum to the lodge, you find this.  Yes, Frank Phillips and his wife, Jane, are buried at Woolaroc.

 The story goes that on a drive back to town one day, Mr. Phillips spotted this little area on the side of the hill and declared that this would be "where we are going to be buried".  Sure enough, after the death of Jane Phillips (his wife), 23 acres were set aside to build a mausoleum.  To begin construction, 18 feet of sandstone had to be sandblasted.  The construction took about a year to complete as it is not just any ordinary mausoleum.  It includes air conditioning and a telephone.
 This is the side view of the lodge.  After gleaning ideas and plans from ranches and lodges in our state and in the Southwest, construction began in 1925.  This palatial lodge is made up of eight guest bedrooms; connecting bedrooms for Mr. and Mrs. Phillips; and Mr. Phillips servant's bedrooms.  All with their own private bathroom.

This photo was taken from the Woolaroc website.  This is the main living room.  The walls of the lodge are covered with mounted heads taken from the Woolaroc ranch.  None are hunting trophies but rather from the Ranch animals as they died of natural causes,  There are 97 heads and 107 sets of horns.

 The Phillips' family spent many a day at this retreat, but they also had the privilege of entertaining many guests.  Dignitaries, movie legends, wealthy friends and business associates, Indian friends and leaders, and even the general public. In Mr. Phillips' latter years, he spent much of his time sitting on the porch enjoying the beauty of what he had been able to have created.

 From the porch, you have this beautiful view of Crystal Lake.  I believe this was created from Crystal Springs that runs through the preserve.  The lake is not open to the public but can be rented for special events.  When we were there, it was being set up for a wedding reception.

Frank Phillips was an extremely wealthy man but he was also a great philanthropist.  He gave away over three-fourths of his personal wealth (millions and millions) before he died.  He created a foundation for the sole purpose of aiding religious and charitable organizations, schools and educational institutions, and for scientific research in a variety of ways.  His legacy continues with Woolaroc.  A place he called home in the middle of the Osage hills in Oklahoma.

A lot of the information I shared with you came from the book, Frank's Fancy: Frank Phillips' Woolaroc.  It is interesting to read of the wheelings and dealings, the ups and downs, successes and failures that took place during the building of Wooalroc.  If you would like to learn more about this wonderful place, you can find it on their website:

If you're ever in or near Oklahoma, you must stop by for a visit!  You'll be glad you did.  So...what interesting places have you visited lately?

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Note:  Neither Woolaroc or the Phillips' Foundation know me from Adam.  I am not being compensated in any way.  I shared this with you because I find it so interesting and hope that you enjoy it as much as we have.

Friday, June 15, 2012

~Welcome to Woolaroc: Part 1~

In my last post, I shared with you our weekend getaway to Osage Hills State Park, which is west of Bartlesville, Oklahoma in the northern part of the state.  We took an afternoon to visit Woolaroc; a vision and dream built by Frank Phillips, co-founder of Phillips Petroleum.

 Woolaroc.  Woods, Land and Rocks.  Woolaroc.  In the mid 1920s, Frank Phillips literally struck it rich when drilling for oil in the hills of Osage country.   He so loved this area that he bought the land, including the well sites, that paved the way for him becoming a multimillionaire.  His dream was to build a game preserve and a beautiful lodge to enjoy and share with friends, family and the public.  He was intrigued by the Wild West and desired to preserve as much of our western and Indian heritage as possible so he also built a museum that houses a world class collection of western art, artifacts and special exhibits.

The preserve covers about 3600 acres and, when first building the preserve, Mr. Phillips brought in many exotic breeds.  Unfortunately, a lot of them did not survive due to disease, severe weather and predators.  Buffalo were becoming quite extinct, but Mr. Phillips was able to purchase a herd from South Dakota that thrived well.  He was one of  a small group of investors who was responsible for bringing this breed back from extinction.  I think he would be pleased.  Most of the preserve is drive-thru only as there are still buffalo, deer, zebra, ostriches and other wild critters that live on the land in pens and pastures...for the most part.  Our first stop was a hands-on mountain man camp that was not here the last time we were here....25 or so years ago.  Who could resist?  We parked our truck and walked down into the little valley area, which was surprisingly comfortable and breezy.

 The 'mountain men' who work this exhibit also live here for the most part in these teepee type tents.  They do get to take advantage of the showers up at the employees' building (thank goodness!) and take turns going home at night on the weekends.  They aren't entirely remote as one had a cell phone go off while we were talking.  LOL

 This guy is quite a character.  He has been working for Woolaroc for 25 years and has been a mountain man since the start of the camp 12 years ago.  The young man in the photo above this one is this guy's great nephew.

 This guy, brother to the man above (talk about all in the family!), was in the midst of sharing with a family about how to use this 50-caliber muzzle loader when we arrived.  But he was gracious enough to start over when they moved on.

 This is his tent site.  They sleep on buffalo blankets with the hair turned to the outside.  Supposed to be somewhat comfortable, but I wasn't willing to try it out. :)

Most of the items you see are things that they have made during idle time to be used in their hunts, comforts of living and to share with us.  They also use these in mountain men competitions around the country!  This is a knife that he made using the forefoot of a deer and rock to create the blade.  In the photo above this one, do you see something that looks like it is carrying a bow and arrows?  This is called a quiver and it's made with a coyote hide...including the head and tail!  In some circles, this would be pretty impressive.

 In this area, you learn how to load a muzzle loader.  Mr. Bill took him up on the offer to shoot the thing but I missed taking a picture!

The powder and such is pretty mild so that even children can experience the joy of shooting a target.  It still gives off a pretty loud bang so one is encouraged to wear the protective coverings over your ears while mountain man just plugs his with his fingers.

 Not too far from the shooting area is a beautiful little lake.  And look what we see!

 Mama is a bit more leery than baby deer and kept ducking her head.  Obviously, they are not too terribly afraid and do not feel threatened by the presence of humans because of the mountain men being in the area all the time.  These deer are an exotic breed and are not to be hunted.

 This teepee is made with canvas not buffalo hide.  Come to find out that many Indians started trading for canvas back in the 1830s to use for their teepees when it was becoming more difficult to hunt the buffalo they needed for food and protection.  Plus, the canvas is very durable and so much easier than having to tan all those hides to make a comfortable home!

 This is a perfect example of an Indian teepee dwelling.  If you look closely, you can see two layers of canvas.  The inner layer looks like a wall with the outer layer over the backside.  This is to create venting allowing fresh air to blow through.  Even so, it was still pretty warm in there.

 On another side, you can see animal hides and items used for day to day living.  Remnants of a fire were smoldering on the hard dirt floor.  Have you ever wondered how the campfire keeps from getting smoldered during a hard rain?  There is another layer towards the top of the teepee that partially covers the opening at the top and slants away to catch most of the rain to run off to the outside.  Interesting, huh?

 Tomahawk throwing!  The technique?  Pretend you're angry at someone.  Yeah, that's what he said.  It is such an accurate weapon that the blade hits the target instead of the handle.  Here's Mr. Bill trying first.

 My turn.  The guys say that the women are pretty darn accurate.  Me? Not so accurate.  I could have probably taken out a squirrel in the tree but not the pile of logs.  Much easier to throw one of these babies than a frying pan!

 We decided to mosey across the way to see these teepees with the beautiful Indian style paintings on them.  Come to find out, they aren't really teepees but rather metal structures.  Just to give you the idea of Indians dwelling near the mountain men.  Look you see what I see?

 Let's move closer.  Do you see it?  There between the teepees.

 There they are!  A couple more exotic deer enjoying the tall grass and the shade.

A beautiful little camp.  Very interesting and enjoyable.  The camp closes after Labor Day and doesn't open again until April or May.  We learned that a mountain man rendezvous is held each October at this camp.  Guess where we're going to be come October??  We think it will be so much fun!

This is just one area of the Woolaroc preserve.  Next week, I'll share with you about our quick visit up to the lodge and museum.  You might enjoy this little video about Woolaroc that was taken during the late fall or winter months.  The surroundings weren't as pretty and luscious as they are now but you will at least get an idea of what this place is all about.

Enjoy and have a beautiful weekend!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

~Honey, I'm Home!~

Hi!  Whenever I'd be gone shopping all day and would get home after hubby did, I'd always say, "honey, I'm home!"  Always reminded me of some I Love Lucy episodes.  Heehee.  Anyway, last week was a busy week of having the two older grandsons here for a couple of days and then getting ready for a long weekend getaway in our RV.  It was hot but enjoyable and, now that we're home, I wanted to share with you a bit about our mini adventure.
 There's so much to see in your own backyard and with over 40 state parks, we have many options to choose from for a long weekend getaway.  About two hours north of us is Osage Hills State Park.  A place that we  we went to last year.  Very secluded and quiet.  A great place to just sit back and relax.

 This was the view from our dining area before any newcomers would arrive.  Isn't it beautiful?  There's not a whole lot to do in and around the park itself but just to the left and back aways, is a swimming hole and fishing area.  It has been too hot for me to be able to venture back there to see the site but from what I've seen on the state parks website, it's a lovely spot.  And a hot spot for young people to come hang out for the afternoon.

The park is quite small with only about 20 or so camping sites.  We found one that was a tight squeeze, but we managed to get our big rig into place and got everything set up.  We had a fair amount of shade.  A must-have during our hot summers!  Temps were around 90 and, thankfully, the humidity was low.  Wish there had been more of a breeze though.
 Just up the hill from our campsite, there is a lookout that we missed the last time so we took a drive up for a "looky-see".  Talk about breathtaking!  Lots of hills and trees and open range.  There are alot of big ranches up in this neck of the country.  If you are familiar with blogger Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, she lives somewhere west of where we are camping.  It's out in the boonies so not sure exactly where :)

On Saturday, we went over to Woolaroc....about 10 miles or so south of a crow flies).  This is a getaway lodge/museum/game preserve built by Frank Phillips (co-founder of Phillips Petroleum; also known as Conoco/Phillips).  The oil industry is BIG business here in Oklahoma!  Anyway, we hadn't been there for about 25 years or so and decided that it was due time to visit again.  Tomorrow (I hope), I will share with you some of what we saw while we were there.  A truly enjoyable and amazing place.

Speaking of's wishing you a truly enjoyable day~

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