Sunday, January 8, 2012

Claremore, Oklahoma: Home of Will Rogers and other fun stuff

A recent NewsOK story highlights the town of Claremore, Oklahoma. About 150 miles from where Elliot is currently assigned in Moore, and about 25 miles from Adair, Oklahoma, Claremore is the home of Will Rogers, Patti Page, and Lynn Riggs. Let's see what makes Claremore stand out among Oklahoma towns.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum

Claremore's main claim to fame is as the birthplace of Will Rogers. According to his website, Will was born in 1879 on the Dog Iron Ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma, just a few miles from Claremore. Today, you can visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, where you can watch movies, shop in the museum store, see a collection of western art featuring Will, and check out a series of movie posters. And if you can't get to Claremore, you can always take a virtual tour of the museum, which is really well done and allows you to see virtually all of the museum and its grounds. And here are a few memorable Will Rogers quotes:
  • Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him.
  • Democrats take the whole thing as a joke. Republicans take it serious but run it like a joke.
  • You could keep politics clean if you could figure out some way so your government never hired anyone.
  • What this country needs is more working men and fewer politicians.
  • I don't tell jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
  • I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat.
Finally, enjoy this video tour of the museum.

J.M. Davis & Arms Historical Museum

Another great place to visit while in Claremore is the J.M. Davis & Arms Historical Museum, the self-described largest private gun collection in the world. Named for a gun collector who settled in Claremore in 1917, the museum houses a truly amazing collection of firearms, artifacts, steins and statuaries, and outlaws. Here is a video tour of the museum:

A few other Claremore highlights

Don't miss the Route 66 Nut House while you're in Claremore. No, it's not the state mental institution. It's a great place on old Route 66 to buy all kinds of goodies, including nuts, candy, fudge, salsas, and other tasty treats.

Then there's the Shepherd's Cross working farm and Christian mission in Claremore. As the following video shows, the purpose of the farm and mission is to teach about agriculture and how it relates to the Bible.

Something I'd love to see in Claremore is the Belvidere Mansion, a three-story mansion built by John Bayless starting in 1902 and completed by his family six months after his death in 1907. According to one source, the mansion is noteworthy not merely for its historic significance and famous tea room, but also because it's supposed to be haunted:
Over the years, numerous people have reported that John Bayless and other members of his family, however, still continue to "reside” in the beautiful old home. These allegations tell of unexplained noises, actual sightings of hazy figures, toilets that flush by themselves, hot and cold spots, and feelings of being touched by someone when no one is there. On several occasions paranormal groups have investigated the old mansion, seeming to find the most paranormal activity on the second floor. There, psychics have "seen” children playing, as well as "meeting” a distressed John Bayless, and a distraught young woman who  allegedly committed suicide when she lived in the building as a tenant in the 1940’s.
The Lynn Riggs Memorial in the old library building honors the great Claremore playwright who in 1931 penned "Green Grow the Lilacs," a play about settlers in Oklahoma's Indian Territory just outside Claremore. You may think you've never heard of it, but it was the play on which Richard Rodgers and Aaron Hammerstein based their 1943 huge musical Broadway success, "Oklahoma!" And here's the well-beloved title song from the 1955 film adaptation:

All in all, there's a lot of great reasons to visit Claremore!

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