By Gail Moore Woltkamp
Although I am a native of Southeast Kansas, part of my family’s history is deeply rooted thirty miles south and across the state line into Northeast Oklahoma. My dad’s paternal grandparents owned a family farm and ranch in Oklahoma’s Washington County, (thirty miles northeast of the larger Osage County), from the early 1900s through the early 1970s.
Etched in my memory are trips to Copan, Dewey, Bowring and Bartlesville, visiting great aunts and uncles as well as a few family cemeteries and interesting sights along the way.
My great grandparents’ original farmhouse sat on their property of 180 acres before Copan Lake and nearby Hulah Lake were developed.
Throughout my childhood, my dad would tell stories about his summers spent on the farm in the 1930s, it’s close proximity to the now infamous Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch and his fun visits with half cousins, who were Native Americans. He was often given warnings by his family, out of respect for private property, not to venture onto the Mullendore’s land.
Spending time as a child with various generations of my family, while visiting the area that holds our shared history, helped to shape my interest and love for Northeast Oklahoma, its landscape and culture.
Hulah Lake 💙💙💙💙
Spreading across miles of rolling terrain, that was once Indian Territory, Hulah Lake is located in Northeast Oklahoma’s Osage County. “Hulah,” meaning “Eagle” in the Osage language, was previously an Osage Nation farming community. outdoorsy.com
Situated 20 miles north of Pawhuska, 15 miles southwest of Copan and five miles north of Bowring, the man-made reservoir was completed in 1951 by the United States Army Corp of Engineers, Tulsa District. (US Army Corp of Engineers, Tulsa District Website)
December on the Lake 💙 ☃️
Last December, my son and I traveled toward the lake from Bartlesville in search of a family cemetery near Bowring. It was a gorgeous drive on Oklahoma State Highway 10 North where the winter landscape with late Fall foliage was visible for miles.
The lake itself, in all its beauty, has a shoreline of 62 miles and offers nearby residents and out of town travelers a chance to enjoy picnics, hunting, fishing, boating, a bird sanctuary, camping and rest area. (Oklahoma Fishing Guide Website) On our drive down Oklahoma Highway 10, we spotted a notable entrance to the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch to the West.
Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve 🧡💙🧡💙
Bartlesville, Oklahoma is home to Woolaroc, (named for Woods, Lakes and Rocks), which is the wildlife preserve and art museum founded and developed by Phillips Petroleum Company founder Frank Phillips and his wife, Jane Phillips. (woolaroc.org).
Originally Frank’s and Jane’s summer retreat, the exquisite property, which has been expanded over the years, is now owned and operated by the Frank Phillips Foundation, Inc. and has been open for the public to experience and enjoy since 1937. (Woolaroc Museum Gallery Guide)
My scenic drive off the entrance of Oklahoma Highway 123, (this time in August), led me across peaceful terrain, (including a couple narrow bridges), spotting lots of buffalo, elk, llamas and a zebra along the way.
The drive led to a unique museum experience filled with extraordinary works of art. Each room showcased Native American and Western History including American Indian collections, paintings, sculptures and exhibits by well-known artists. The museum is also home to one of the world’s most extensive Colt firearms collections and to the 1927 “Woolaroc” aircraft.
My travels to Northeast Oklahoma are a reflection of the interest I have in my family’s past along with Oklahoma’s rich history.
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve Gallery Guide
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve Campus Map
US Army Corp of Engineers Tulsa District Website
Oklahoma Fishing Guide Website