Strange Sights Along Route 66 – It’s Amazing What You Can Do With a Little Cement

Posted on October 24, 2014

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DSCN0989Mix together 126 sacks of dry concrete, 19.5 yards of ready-mix concrete, 19,400 pounds of rock, 15 tons of sand, a bunch of other stuff and a whole lot of blue paint and you have the Blue Whale, one of the most recognizable roadside attractions along Route 66 in Catoosa, Oklahoma.

The Blue Whale has its roots in Hugh Davis’ career as director of the Tulsa Zoo, and the opportunity for a money-making roadside attraction when  a new four-lane alignment of Route 66 went right through his property.DSCN0988

In the beginning, the whale, built in 1972, was just for the Davis children and their friends to enjoy while swimming in the pond on their property.

But by the time Route 66 was realigned, Davis had retired and needed something to do.  The Blue Whale was opened to the public, eventually becoming part of Nature’s Acres which included the ARK (animal reptile kingdom). The Ark was populated with alligators, poisonous snakes, monkeys and many other creatures, all kept in stables, pens or pits around a two-story wooden ark used for concessions and parties.

DSCN0993Hugh Davis built the facilities by hand with whatever he could find – such as leftover World War II bomber turrets, which topped his grove of seven-foot- tall concrete mushrooms.

The park was closed in 1988 after its owners became too old to keep it going. But today, volunteers keep the whale and the small park area at the edge of the pond pretty well maintained.DSCN1008

The City of Catoosa has recently expressed an interest in purchasing the property, so hopefully this little part of iconic Route 66 will continue to float along for many years to come.

 

Who wears a size 393 DDD boot, a size 112 hat and 48″ waist work pants? IMG_0535

It’s Tulsa’s Golden Driller, a cement, plaster and steel behemoth standing 76’ high and weighing in at 43,500 lbs.

This husky roustabout was originally built in 1953 by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth as a temporary eye-catcher for the International Petroleum Exposition, held in Tulsa.  After being re-designed a time or two, the Driller was permanently installed at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds in 1966.

The Golden Driller contains a total of 2.5 miles of rods and mesh, and can withstand 200 mph winds, which in Oklahoma is a good thing. Not sure how much cement was needed to sculpt his manly body.

Wonder what his inseam is?

 

 

DSCN1005Located just 3 miles off Route 66, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park is the oldest and largest example of a folk art in Oklahoma.

All of the art objects in the park are made of stone or concrete, reinforced with steel rebar and wood, but the focal point of the park is the main totem pole.

Ninety feet tall on a 54 foot diameter base, this little project involved 28 tons of cement, 100 tons of sand, and 6 tons of steel.

DSCN1009Galloway incised and carved the objects on the totem in bas-relief.

He applied paint to the decorations that  include representational and figurative images of birds and animals sacred to Native Americans, all arranged facing the four points of the compass.

He began his project in 1937 and finished it in 1961.

 

DSCN1096Then there’s a concrete wigwam fused into the front of a souvenir shop, part of the magical tapestry of Route 66, in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

I’m sure there’s more strange sights to see just down the road, around the next curve and over the hill.

 

 

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