Wingding 2009 Trip Day 6

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Travel today 227 miles

 

Lunch at Clanton's Cafe

319 E. Illinois
Vinita, OK 74301

     Clanton's Cafe is located on Route 66 also known as the "Mother Road". I-44, Highway 60 and Highway 2 also run through Vinita.

Clanton's Cafe on Route 66 in Vinita Oklahoma

Food Network comes to Clanton's

Rt 66 Chicken Fried Steak

Clanton's is featured on the hit tv show "Diners Drive-ins and Dives". Learn more about thier visit >>

Clanton's Cafe in Vinita Oklahoma

"A Family Tradition"

     Clanton's has been a family tradition in Vinita Oklahoma since 1927. Generations of Clanton's have prepared meals for their neighbors. It is the oldest continually owned family restaurant on Route 66 in the state of Oklahoma. The Clanton's family have been deeply involved in the community of Vinita and have given countless hours and dollars to support  various school, community and charitable organizations.

 

Clanton's Featured in
Gourmet Magazine

rt 66
Rt 66 Chicken Fried Steak

     Clanton's has been featured in Gourmet Magazine for its outstanding Chicken Fried Steak. Columnist Michael Stern was traveling through Vinita in search of the best Chicken Fried Steak on Route 66. He had tried many steaks of various qualities and was impressed with the delicious Chicken Fry served at Clanton's. You can find the article in the February 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine. A wide variety of home style meals can be found at this restaurant. Chicken fried chicken, hearty hamburgers, home made french fries, creamy mashed potatoes and calf fries, yes calf fries. If you don't know what calf fries are then you really need to come and give them a try.

View Close up of our Famous Chicken Fried Steak,

Clanton's Cafe Past Photo Clanton's Cafe Diner Today
Clanton's Cafe Past Owners Clanton's Cafe Present Owners
click on photos to view larger image

 

 

 

N 36 11.609 W 095 43.969

Catoosa's Famous Blue Whale

The Blue Whale

The Blue Whale has become one of the most recognizable attractions on old Route 66 in Oklahoma. Hugh Davis built it in the early 1970s as an anniversary gift to his wife Zelta. The Blue Whale and its pond became a favorite stop and swimming hole for both locals and travelers alike. Hugh was an entrepreneur in the grand old tradition of those roadside attraction proprietors of old. Over the years his park became a destination in itself.

        
His property not only included this fanciful blue whale, but picnic tables, concessions, a couple of boats and a wonderful zoo housed in a wooden ark. The zoo was once a favorite field trip for the local school kids. Blaine Davis, Hugh's son, recalls giving tours of the zoo when he was only six years old!    The Blue Whale, pond and zoo were closed in the late 1980s and soon fell into disrepair. A decade after the Blue Whale was closed citizens of Catoosa along with Hampton Inn employees cleaned up the grounds and gave the whale a fresh coat of paint. Today the Blue Whale lives again as an attraction worth seeing. The remains of the ark (below right picture) and zoo can be seen returning to nature nearby. There are no plans to restore them at this time and soon may be just a memory.

Oklahoma Route 66 Features

The Blue Whale of Catoosa

Article by Thomas Repp. All photos in this article, with the exception of the last one, are courtesy of the Davis family and Mock Turtle Press. Copyright, all rights reserved.

Many people never quite get his story straight, but the Blue Whale of Catoosa never seems to mind. Lounging in landlocked Oklahoma—a salty anomaly, a shutterbug's watery dream”he suits every sailor slipping down Route 66 with the same sloppy smile.

“I just saw another news article,” says current whale co-owner, Dee Dee Davis Belt. “And it said my dad built the whale for my mom as a wedding present. I see this written in newspapers; I see this written in books. And it's just not right!”

The true tale of Catoosa's favorite whale does begin with one whopping romance. Hugh S. Davis was a man who adored animals. In his youth, Hugh inched his way through Africa with wildlife wunderkinds Martin and Osa Johnson. In his prime, Hugh stood front-and-ferocious-center as director of Tulsa's Mohawk Zoo.

Davis family
Dee Dee, Blaine, and Zelta Davis with large python.

Hugh's bride, Zelta, shared her husband's love of things untamed. She joined Hugh on the Chautauqua lecture circuit—wrapping reptiles around her waist while he espoused the beauty of beasts. Eventually, Zelta talked Hugh into installing an alligator farm near their home—on property that fronted Route 66. When Hugh left the Mohawk Zoo—and began spending more time around the house—he opted to drop the gators and shape a pond on the property into a pretty waterpark.

“The kids kept saying, 'We need something to jump off of,'” Zelta recalled in 1997. “Then Hugh had Harold Thomas over there—a friend of ours who was a welder. Hugh knew exactly what he was going to build, but he wouldn't tell me. It looked to like it was going to be an airplane.”

Jumbo jet, no; leviathan, yes: Hugh presented the whale to Zelta on their anniversary. It was a lavish gift. Hugh's notes show the whale was built for a whopping 1970s cost of 1,910 dollars and 24 cents. He exhausted 126 sacks of dry Portland Concrete in completing his task—and $5.75 in nails to tack down the original redwood decking.

Hugh calculated the painted surface of the whale at 2,520 square feet. That number has earned the respect of preservationists who've stepped forward since 1980—the year Hugh's waterpark closed. One company spent six thousand dollars in whale refurbishing. Former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating once appeared on site with a paintbrush —ready to swab.

photo by Brad Nickson, August 2002.

On August 15, 2002, the latest group of whale boosters arrived. They came armed with a new Roadside Attraction sign, and they came from Hampton/Hilton Hotels Corp which had chosen the whale as the 12th project in its “Explore the Highway with Hampton, Save A Landmark” Program. With Hampton's help, a new fence was erected on the whale's grounds. The old snack bar was repainted, and a new septic system was installed to serve sailors too long in their cars.

And the whale's sloppy smile?

“Hampton took care of that, too,” says Dee Dee. “They brought out this big mop, and they brushed his teeth.”

 

 

Oklahoma

In eastern Oklahoma, the Route is clearly labeled OK 66. Four miles east of 66 on OK 28 is
Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, which is highly recommended.

The Twin Bridges (obviously not quite twins) cross the Verdigris River before you get to Catoosa.

 

Verdigris

Just east of the Blue Whale between Claremore and Catoosa you will find two huge steel truss bridges that cross the Verdigris River. This is a four lane section of old Route 66. It is unusual to find two Route 66 bridges side by side like this. The original bridge was built in 1936. In 1957 another bridge (right bridge in picture) was built to alleviate some of the traffic on the earlier bridge. Just beyond the bridges you will find Catoosa's famous Blue Whale.

Historic Twin Bridges on Route 66 at Catoosa

Kansas

... where the chat fields in Galena give the meaning to it's nickname, "Hell's Half Acre".

In Kansas the Route is known as KS 66 and is well-marked, and the Route 66 signs stenciled on the road surface first make their appearance.

Eisler Brother's Market on the east side of Riverton has all manner of memorabilia in addition to the sorts of things you expect at a roadside market.

It was a hot summer; the thermometer in the Prius went over 100 degrees for the first time and did so every day thereafter until we got back to Missouri on the return trip (except for two delightful days on the west coast).

On the way into town keep an eye out for road to the March Rainbow Bridge, the last of its kind on the Route, on an old alignment west of the main road. It had been freshly painted and can be driven one-way, although the only traffic consists of Route 66 junkies.

From here we had lunch in Baxter Springs and continued on into...

As you leave Miami you may notice that the country looks very green. Oklahomans call this part of their state "The Green Country" and it's easy to see why. An early pre-1937 alignment of Route 66, very driveable, heads south from Miami on county road 125. After leaving town and crossing the Neosho river the pavement narrows to just 9 feet wide.

The Narrow Road - Route 66

This is the famous (well we'd heard of it) 'Sidewalk Highway'. If two cars meet they put their right wheels on the shoulder and hope it's not to soft. We were lucky; we didn't meet anyone.

The narrow road continues along property lines north/south and east/west with sharp right angle turns. In about 10 miles you'll be back on OK 66 which you can take for 5 miles to another stretch of 8 foot road to the right (west). This portion, still very used, heads west and south to Afton. A portion was torn up when I-44 was constructed but a small one lane bridge was built so tourists and a few local residents can still use this historic route.

Foyil

 

Before long you come to the almost ghost town of Foyil, Oklahoma. However, this very small community of just a little more than 200 people is an excellent stop upon the Mother Road for it’s nearby attraction to Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park and for its historic contribution to Route 66.

 

Soon after the Mother Road was completed a man by the name of Lon Scott, the promoter for the new Route 66 Association, conceived of the idea to promote a transcontinental footrace in 1928. Pairing up with C.C. Pyle, a sports promoter, the cross-country footrace, more familiarly called the Bunion Derby, followed the new highway from the Pacific to Chicago, then onwards to New York.

 

Top Hat Dairy Bar in Foyil, Oklahoma, courtesy

 Bird Takes Flight

 

Andy Payne, the winner of the footrace, hailed from Foyil, Oklahoma, passing right through his hometown along the way. Crossing the finish line 84 days after the race began, Payne finished hours ahead of the other runners, claiming the $25,000 prize and helping to put Route 66 in the minds of Americans. Andy went home a hero and used his winnings to pay off the mortgage on his parent’s farm. Foyil's main street was renamed Andy Payne Boulevard, where you will ride on an original stretch of pinkish Portland Cement concrete. A memorial to Payne was later erected in a park along Andy Payne Boulevard.

World's Largest Concrete Totem Pole near Foyil,

World's Largest Concrete Totem Pole near Foyil,

Oklahoma, June, 2004, Kathy Weiser

Just four miles east of Foyil on Highway 28A, is Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, featuring the world’s largest concrete totem pole. At 90 feet, the totem pole towers over the park in a vivid array of folk art colors. The park also features Galloway’s eleven-sided "Fiddle House" that previously housed hundreds of hand-carved fiddles and today serves as a small museum. Throughout the park are numerous colorful totems that display a variety of Indian Folk Art. This is a definite side trip worth the taking.

Returning to Route 66, you will soon come to Claremore, Oklahoma, best known for being the hometown of Will Rogers.

 

 

 

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