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.

1 comment:

Barbara and Ron said...

Glad your father's doing better and you're heading back home.