Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eufaula Again

Although I came back to Oklahoma for a family emergency, I had the opportunity to meet my new grandchild in person, and to visit with his brother and parents. I also took time to do some exploring of the area, Robbers Cave State Park and the city of McAlester. Anytime someone tells you "there isn't anything interesting around here", tell them to look again. There is always history to explore.
But first things first. I came back to Eufaula after my dad collapsed and had to be hospitalized. He is doing much better and is in rehab to get strong enough to return home.
Can you believe they let me bring the dog? Yes, that is Fancy (I just got her hair cut) sitting with my dad in the hospital. They say it is good therapy for the patients once they get to the rehab unit.
My 12 day old grandson, Gavin, taking a snooze.

I just love being a grandma!

But it was also fun taking his brother, Adrion, to the park.

Four Generations

Robbers Cave State Park is about 60 miles from Eufaula. One afternoon following a hospital visit, I took Fancy and we went hiking. Robbers Cave is famous for hiding out outlaws such as the Younger Gang, Jesses James, and Belle Starr.
Here is part of the cave.

The entire area was developed during the 1930s by the CCC. They built great steps using natural rock to help climb to the cave.

They had these great yellow arrows to help keep you on the trail. If no rocks, they painted yellows circles on the trees.

What a great view from the top.

See the blue strap? There was a person at the other end down between the cracks. I never did see them, but could here them talking to the lady on top.

This is the stone corral where they kept the horses.

A map to the cave.

At the other end of the park is this CCC built dam. The park has 3 lakes: Lake Carlton, Lake Wayne Wallace and Coon Creek Lake.

Picnic and swimming area on one of the lakes.

McAlester lies 30 miles south of Eufaula. One day I did some exploring and found more than I bargained for.
When I saw the sign for the first time, I didn't even know McAlester had a historic district. This area is now known as "North McAlester" or "Old Town".

I saw this sign of things to do and see.....

and this sign.....But although I found most of these things, few had any info about what they were or why they were important. So most of the info I will be relating is what I found online later.

This is the original Oklahoma State Penitentury. They have built a newer, modern prison south of town, but this one is still in use. Not sure if it still houses prisoners or is mainly administration now. The museum is only open Wed-Sat and today was Tuesday.

It looked like a driveway and private residence to me, but it is supposed to be the Tannehill Family Museum. Didn't find out much about this. I didn't stop, only took pictures.

At least the cemetery was identified.

This monument was standing in the middle of a vacant lot. It says although he was born here, he lived his early childhood in a company house in a rural coal mining camp. My mother says she always heard he grew up in Bugtussle. (Yes, that is the name of a town)

No signs, but this is J.J. McAlester's home according to pictures on the internet. It was built in the Queen Anne style in 1870.
J.J. McAlester came to the area in 1870 from Arkansas to set up a trading post. He married a Chickasaw Chief's daughter, which allowed him to take up legal residence in the Choctaw Nation. He is credited with discovering the rich veins of coal in this area. Pittsburg County and surrounding area was found to have the richest coal outside of Pennsylvania.

This must be one of the parks mentioned on the sign, but I found no name.

The site of J.J. McAlester's store.
I moved toward the current downtown area and spotted several old, beautiful buildings.

This is the Masonic Lodge. Originally built in 1907, it was added onto in 1928. Only some additional exterior lighting was added in the 1950s, otherwise, this building looks like it did in 1928. I didn't go inside, thinking it wouldn't be allowed. But when I looked up information about this lodge on the internet, I found they give tours. This lodge, located in a small town in Oklahoma, population maybe 12,000, has what is considered to be one of the prettiest Masonic Lodges in the country.

This picture came from the lodge's website. It is the stage inside the lodge. One of the largest stage's in the country, it is 80 x 120 feet.
No picture, but the website says there is also a 1930s, 3100 pipe, pipe organ located in the auditorium. Boy I wish I had taken the tour. Next time.

This is "Chapel on the Hill". Built in 1899, it is the original First Presbyterian Church, which is the only original church building left in the area and is still used for weddings and special occasions.

The Aldridge Hotel building, built originally in 1930, has been remodeled and is now apartments.

Another gothic style church in the downtown area.

This is the old high school building built in 1919. It is still used as the school's administration building and for adult education.

As I left the downtown area I saw a sign for a Coal Miners Memorial. Just a statue of a coal miner and a wall listing the names of all those who died in coal mining accidents from the 1800s through 1945. I could find no museums about coal mining in this area, so I don't know if it is still going on or not. But across the street was the Dept of Labor Miners Health and Safety office, so maybe there still is some mining.

This is one big piece of coal. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to steal it so they could use it.

So next time I am back in this area visiting family I will try to find something else historical to explore. But tomorrow I am heading back to Sedalia to pick up my home, and then I will start heading slowly east for a while.

Sedalia, MO

I arrived in Sedalia, MO, all excited about attending the Scott Joplin Ragtime Music Festival. The evening I arrived I joined about 20 friends at the local Moose Lodge. We had a good time playing Moose Bingo. I had never heard of Moose Bingo, but it was fun.

First you pick your favorite Moose. Then you place a $2 bet.

Now the fun begins. Everyone takes turns rolling the dice. There are six moose and each are numbered. If you roll a 3 with the dice, you move moose #3. Each move takes the moose 1 ceiling tile across toward the finish line. The 1, 2, and 3 place winners get to split the bets with a little going to the Moose Charity.

The next morning I spent listening to ragtime music being played by several artists. Each musician played the piano for 20 minutes in the college cafeteria. The main ragtime festival really wasn't to begin until the next day. If you don't know what ragtime music is, think "The Entertainer" with Robert Redford. The music was a Scott Joplin tune. To hear some of the artists and see pictures, check out www. lifeontheopenroad.blogspot.com.

In the afternoon several of us drove out to the Bothwell Lodge and Mansion. John Homer Bothwell came to Sedalia in 1871 and was instrumental in bringing the Missouri-Kanasas-Texas (KATY) railroad repair shops to Sedalia and also in bringing the Missouri State Fair to Sedalia. He was a prominent businessman and politician. In the 1890s he purchased Stoneybrook Farm and in 1897 started construction of this lodge. It was not completed until 1928. It was built in sections, with 3 different wings added over the next 31 years.

The front of the lodge doesn't look near so appealing to me. It is truly an unusual house, having many modern features for the times built in. It has been restored much as it was when he was alive. Mr. Bothwell died in 1929, but left the lodge to group of his family and friends. They used the lodge until 1969, when the last of them died. At that time the lodge was given to the state of Missouri.

On our walk around the grounds we found even the dog had its own office.

The Cliff House was built for a nephew. It was completed shortly after his death. This home is now used for the park administrator.

The Farm House was also built near the mansion and was completed later in the year Mr. Bothwell died. This home is in the midst of being restored. It burnt in the 1940s.

Don't we look relaxed. Sitting in the breezeway between 2 wings, in the rockers, overlooking the cliff below is something I could really get used to.

Inside his house he actually set up a beehive in the walls. They have replaced the wood on one side so visitors can see the bees at work.
I'm glad I got to listen to some ragtime music in the morning because a family emergency called me back to Oklahoma the next day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My New Grandson

I am proud to announce the arrival of my latest grandson, Gavin Scott Patton. He arrived May 29, 2009, at 12:45 PM, weighing in at 7lb 8oz and 20.5 inches long. His parents, Aaron and Holly, are now the proud parents of two boys, Adrion, age 7, and now Gavin.

Adrion with his new brother.


Alley Springs, MO May 26-Jun 1

Alley Springs is located about 6 miles west of Eminence, MO.

We saw lots of these Mountain Bluebirds in the area. This one was right outside my motorhome and I managed to take a picture through my window.

. We had a fire almost every evening. Here is Cory chopping us some wood.

We hiked about a mile over to the Alley Springs Mill.

In the late 1800s this was a booming town. Now all that is left is this mill. For its day this was a very progressive mill. Instead of stone grinding, they used filters for the grain. Utilizing the spring they had power not only for the mill but also for the blacksmith shop and other businesses in the area. But as retail stores became more popular, less and less people grew their own crops, less grain was brought to the mill and eventually the town died. Twice a day during the summer the interpretive rangers turn the mill machinery on so you can see it in operation.

They created a funnel like water chute with a 6 ft drop. This is what created the power for the mill. It was supposed to be a very efficient method for a water powered mill.

We took the higher Overlook Trail returning to camp. We took the Spring Branch Trail on our way to the mill.

On top of the overlook.

Looking down on the spring and mill. The mill is barely visible as a little bit of red in the trees.

Here I have to stop and explain what happened to me on the end of the trail. I was not watching where I was placing my feet and I stepped on a 4x4 board. These boards were placed periodically on the downhill side of the trail to prevent erosion. I even had my walking sticks, but with all the rain it was slick and my stick and myself went flying. I landed with my leg in a heap underneath me. With help I made it down the rest of the trail, but very slowly and in pain. The next day I kayaked since kayaking doesn't use your legs and by the time I got out of the kayak I felt pretty good. By bedtime I was in pain again. Well, I finally went to the hospital and had it x-rayed. It wasn't broken, but the knee was badly bruised and they gave me crutches. I really did try to use the crutches, but they were terrible to use. After a few days I gave the crutches up and am still using a knee brace. I recommend kayaking after a knee injury. 5-6 hours immoble in a kayak really releaves the pain of a knee injury.

Maniac Mike arrived at Alley Spring and he offered us the use of his trailer for transporting our kayaks to the water.

We were floating down the Jacks Fork River while at Alley Springs. It is a shallower river, which means more obsticles and fast water through narrow channels. More fun! We saw lots of turtles and snakes both in the water.

On the first kayak trip we had 3 people dump. Here Nancy is emptying the water from her kayak.

Here are several guys salvaging Caroline's kayak from the river after she turned over. We almost got to see a miracle (Caroline walking on water) after she saw a snake just feet from where she was in the water. Luckily the snake swam the other way. We had one more person go over as well, but no one got pictures. Some of our group stopped to help some canoers who got the canoe stuck in some logs. While getting Caroline and her kayak out, we watched 3 canoes go over in about the same place.

Some goats along side the river.

Cory passes the kayak hat to Nancy.

Nancy passes the hat to Caroline.

Caroline passes the hat to Maniac Mike.

We took a day trip to Round Springs Cave.

This was the most natural cave tour I have ever been on. There is no permanent lighting at all. Everyone is given an electric light to carry.

What looks like coconut sprinkled on top is of interest to scientists. Most cave sculptures grown down from the ceiling. These little guys grow all directions. Scientists are studying these because they have not been found anywhere else in the world (at least that is what the ranger said).

More cave sculptures.

We planned to have lunch on the road, but found no restaurants in the area. So we settled for frozen sandwiches, which we microwaved, from the local outfitter store.

Our next destination that day was a place called "Devils Well". It was an underground lake with an opening. Stairs were built down to a ledge just above the lake. We all thought we would be able to see something, but once we climbed the stairs down, nothing. Just a concrete room with a grate on one end overlooking an opening. But with no lights you couldn't see down. I guess I'll take their word of an underground lake.

We found a ferry to take us across the river. It is supposed to be the last ferry like this in the state of Missouri.

Another day of kayaking. This time from the campground down the Jacks Fork to the confluence of the Current River.

It was warm and we stopped along the way to play. We had two people to turn over on todays trip.
Mike gives the hat to Caroline.

Caroline gives the hat to Geraldine. Geraldine will get to keep the hat until next year since NARKSMO is now over. Next stop is Sedalia, MO, to the Scott Joplin Festival.