Oklahoma History: September 2007 Archives

One of the greatest singing cowboys of all time is just six weeks older than the great State of Oklahoma, and this weekend the town named for him is hosting a big celebration in his honor, the Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum Film and Music Festival.

Gene Autry (the town) is a little ways north of Ardmore in south-central Oklahoma, about seven miles east of I-35 on OK-53.

The big party, featuring screenings of Autry's films and performances by cowboy singers and poets, began on Wednesday and winds up on Sunday.

The high point of the celebration is today, the actual centennial of Autry's birth on September 29, 1907. Riders in the Sky, who have been upholding the tradition of cowboy music for over a quarter of a century, will give two performances, at 3:10 and 8:30. They'll be preceded on stage by Steve Mitchell, the Les Gilliam Trio, and Johnny Western. Riders in the Sky put on a great show for the whole family -- a mix of comedy and beautiful western harmonies.

Tickets are $20 each for the matinee show and the other events, except for the evening stage show, for which tickets are $35 for reserved seats, $25 for general admission. Check the festival page for all the details and contact information.

Tulsans will be able to catch Riders in the Sky a little closer to home on Sunday -- they'll perform at the Bartlesville Community Center at 2 pm on September 30. There are still a fair number of tickets available, ranging from $15 to $43 for adults, $5 to $20 for students.

(I've seen the Riders perform at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, at the fair in Springfield, Missouri, and at the Walton Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. As far as I know, they have never performed in Tulsa, even though their radio show used to air on KWGS and KVOO.)

On a visit to Bartlesville's Kiddie Park last weekend, I was surprised to see bare dirt on the southeast side of the road, just across from the steam engine and the Hulah depot.

That empty space used to be home to a fixture from my early childhood -- a replica of Oklahoma's first commercial oil well, the Nellie Johnstone No. 1, drilled on that spot in 1897. We passed it often on the walk between our house on Delaware and the playground at Johnstone Park. There was some sort of marker on the site with the Cities Service Oil Company trefoil, so I assume the company had something to do with the replica's construction. (My dad worked for Cities from 1965 to 1985.)

The reason it's gone is that the current replica was "badly deteriorated." I can't imagine the repeated flooding of the Caney River was good for it. The replica was pulled down in mid-August. It had been built in 1964, replacing an earlier replica built in 1948. Sometime in September will be a groundbreaking for a new replica, sponsored by the Centennial Commission.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma History category from September 2007.

Oklahoma History: August 2007 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma History: November 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]