By Lanna Mills
Head to the western part of the state to the town of Elk City. It is right along Interstate 40 and Route 66. The town is just big enough to offer shopping, dining, history and family fun attractions while still being small enough to offer its guests hospitality and a warm greeting.
Elk City was established in 1901, and the railroad came in at the same time, which increased population and connected the city to the outside world, leading to its prosperity. Its history, however, dates back long before it became a town. The Great Western Cattle Trail, which passed right through what is now Elk City, was traveled by many early cattle ranchers and cowboys who were driving their herds from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. Today the town still has some western atmosphere as there are many local farmers and ranchers who call Elk City home. It is also the home of Beutler and Son Rodeo Company, which supplies livestock to rodeos all across the nation and has had many make it to the National Finals. The Beutler family has been a part of raising livestock, rodeo and stock contracting since 1929.
Elk City has been a big part of the oil industry and has seen booms and busts. The Parker Drilling Rig (Elk City Rig 114), which once pumped oil in the oilfields of the Anadarko Basin, now sits downtown. It is a landmark and a reminder of the impact the oil industry has had and still has on the city. Oil and natural gas are still a major part of the economy and make up many of the local businesses for the city and surrounding communities.
The city offers some great attractions that are sure to be fun for the entire family. Ackley Park is a 220 acre park that is made up of play grounds, tennis courts, sports complex, aquatic center, mini golf, miniature train rides around the pond and a beautiful Centennial Carousel. If you visit around Christmas time, be sure to take a drive through the park’s amazing light display, take a horse drawn carriage ride or ride the double decker bus.
The city offers some great museums as well. At the Blacksmith Museum you can learn all about how blacksmiths forged objects from metal or iron and fire. You can view several of the productions including horseshoes, weapons, furniture, decorative items and agricultural implements. At the Farm and Ranch Museum you can learn all about farming and ranching and take a look at some of the equipment that was used on the early farms and ranches of western Oklahoma. The Old Town Museum can take you back to the days of pioneer life. The museum is in a two story Victorian house and is filled with interesting history. The National Route 66 and Transportation Museum can guide you through the historic and iconic highway. You can learn all about the path 66 takes from Illinois to California and the eight states it passes through.
Learn more in the July 2019 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.