Preservation Nation Comes to Tulsa

The 2008 National Preservation Conference kicks off here in Tulsa this week.

What do you want to preserve?
The IPE Building
This event is the annual soiree of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The conference is a chance for preservation professionals, volunteers and supporters to network and exchange ideas for protecting America’s historic treasures. They chose our fair city for their 62nd hoedown because of our famous Art Deco skyline and deep ties to Route 66. My understanding is about 2,000 people from across the nation will attend the conference.

I will be attending and plan to report on the festivities at oklahomamodern.blogspot.com.

The conference dates are October 21st through 25th. I am grateful to the Oklahoma Main Street Center for providing me the opportunity to attend. While the cost of registration is rather steep (upwards of $300), there are free events open to the public…

5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Oklahoma preservation story lecture featuring Oklahoma Historical Society executive director Bob Blackburn at First Presbyterian Church, 709 S. Boston Ave.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday
Exhibit Hall, open until 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Tulsa Convention Center, 100 Civic Center.

4 p.m. Wednesday
Opening Session with Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor and former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, 1301 S. Boston Ave.

6 p.m. Thursday
National Preservation Awards, Will Rogers High School, 3909 E. Fifth Place

5:45 p.m. Friday
“The Romance of the Mother Road,” Historic Route 66 Lecture featuring author Michael Wallis, First United Methodist Church, 1115 S. Boulder Ave.

10:30 a.m. Saturday
Closing Session with historian Nell Irvin Painter and author Anthony Tung, Tulsa Convention Center

Our Nation’s Birthday on the Mother Road

Biking by the Round BarnTurned out I had a free morning this Fourth of July. Jackie had most of her morning planned with errands to run, visits to make, etc. I, on the other hand, had not a care in the world.

It had been a while since I rolled out the bike for a solo pleasure cruise. It was a beautiful Oklahoma morning and the weather forecast was favorable, so this seemed like the perfect time. After checking the tire pressure I rolled the BMW out of the garage and saddled up. I honestly had no idea where I was headed as I pulled out of the driveway.

After a few minutes I was rolling down I-44 westbound out of Tulsa. I decided to take a tour down Route 66. I exited to Southwest Boulevard and took the “authentic” pre-1973 route of the Mother Road toward Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Just past Sapulpa there is a very old stretch of 66 that includes a one-lane girder bridge paved with red bricks. I was happy to see the rusty bridge is still there, even if it is looking pretty crusty.

1925 Frisco Overpass over Route 66I’d always wondered how old this few miles of the old road really was. Just then I rounded the bend and found my answer in the form of this familiar old railroad underpass. How I overlooked this in previous years is beyond me. The date 1925 on the overpass would indicate the road must be pretty close to that same age!

I bumped along over the aging concrete until it spit me out on the current alignment of 66 near the junction of Oklahoma State Highway 33 outside of Kellyville. I continued on through Bristow and passed a group of baggers outside of Depew. As I approached Stroud I remembered reading there had been a fire at the Rock Cafe. I decided that would make a good place to stretch my legs and have a shot of water while I surveyed the damage.

Ruins of the Rock CafeWhen I got to Stroud I could see the debris in front of the Rock Cafe from a few blocks away. This was no kitchen fire. As I pulled up I could see the historic 1939 roadhouse was in ruins. The fire had completely destroyed the structure and reinforcements had been erected in an attempt to save the native rock walls. While I was gawking the baggers I had passed earlier came pulling up, also looking wide-eyed. Turns out they had no idea there had been a fire and were stopping at the “Rock” for lunch.

I snapped a few more photos of the devastation before continuing west.

Davenport's brick-paved main streetIn Davenport a sign touts their historic brick-paved downtown. Apparently the entire stretch through the business district is listed as a historic site. Good thing because there’s not much else in downtown Davenport. The Oklahoma sun beat down on block after block of empty storefronts. Rumbling along over the red bricks made me glad we don’t pave roads that way any longer.

At this point I decided to continue on to Pop’s in Arcadia for lunch and fuel. The rest of the ride was uneventful (except for nearly hitting the biggest snapping turtle I have ever seen). As I lugged my way back toward Tulsa the heat of the day was catching up to me. Puffy clouds floated over the wide open spaces between each small town.

As I came back through Sapulpa I decided to leave 66 and take OK-97 north where I could catch Avery Drive. That seemed like a fitting finale for my ride- Avery Drive is named for the man known as the father of the Mother Road, Cyrus Avery.

It all seemed like the perfect way to spend a Fourth of July morning.