Our pioneer road trip took us to the Oklahoma towns of Pawhuska, Bartlesville, Dewey and began in Ponca City. You must visit Ponca City, Oklahoma for its history, beauty and culture. It is just one of the small towns on our trip where we learned what role Oklahoma played in American history, Native American culture and the boom of the oil industry.
Ponca City is a small city on the banks of the Arkansas River. It was founded in the late 1800s. The city was first named New Ponca, after the Ponca Indians that lived in the area. It is said to have been built on “oil, soil and toil”. The tourist attractions in town are a great way to see the unique things that teach and celebrate these hardworking people that settled America.
Visit Ponca City Oklahoma for Its History, Beauty and Culture – See The Pioneer Woman Museum
The Pioneer Woman Museum was a great place to start our exploring. For everything Amory and I have gone through and learned on our own (you can read more on my story here) walking through the museum doors with the inscription “I SEE NO BOUNDARIES” emblazoned on the entrance overhang was quite moving.
During my marriage we really did not travel, my ex-husband liked to stay home and keep us home. A few trips were made in the 21 years I was married. I can count them on one hand and have fingers left over. Now that we are free, our plans are for Amory and I to see ALL THE THINGS! So, to start our trip with the words “I SEE NO BOUNDARIES” and a museum dedicated to women who changed the face of Oklahoma history and in turn our nation’s history was almost overwhelming.
Pioneer Woman Museum – History, Beauty and Culture In The Exhibits
But not quite! The museum’s education center features interactive exhibits including spinning, knitting and quilting, special exhibits, an interactive timeline. The Pioneer Woman Walk of Fame which tells the stories of women from all races and nationalities who contributed to Oklahoma’s history.
One of the best things in the museum was the information and artifacts about the daily life of Oklahoma’s Cherokee Strip homesteaders. Photographs, newspaper articles, flyers, memorabilia, artifacts and antiques showed us the true “pioneer woman” went through to establish this town and put their mark on history.
Pioneer Woman Museum – The Amazing Gift Shop
The gift shop at the Pioneer Woman Museum was filled with vintage items, gifts and quilted items. Amory and I could not pass up a quilted pig pillow. The best part about the pig pillow and the other items in the gift shop was that they were made by and benefit a special organization of ladies that embody those pioneer women traits and instills them in others. Soroptimist International of Ponca City is part of a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. Soroptomist loosely translated in Latin is ”best for women”.
Pioneer Woman Museum – Confident, A Tribute To The Pioneer Woman
Outside of the Pioneer Woman museum stands “Confident”, the monumental tribute to the pioneer woman. She stands seventeen feet tall and weighs twelve thousand pounds. Standing atop a quarry-stone pyramid base, she rises to a total of thirty-three feet.
This statue was possible because of E.W. Marland, an oilman, philanthropist, US Congressman, and the tenth governor of Oklahoma. In 1926 he began a project to build a monument to the disappearing West.
Pioneer Woman Museum – The “Her”story Behind Confident
E.W. Marland commissioned twelve 3-foot sculptures that were submitted by United States and international sculptors as models for the Pioneer Woman statue. Marland told the sculptors to pay tribute to “the pilgrim mothers, the Puritan women, the mothers of the south, the sturdy broods.” The sculptures that were submitted were:
“Protective” by John Gregory
“Determined” by Maurice Sterne
“Challenging” by H.A. MacNeil
“Affectionate” by James E. Fraser
“Self-Reliant” by A. Stirling Calder
“Fearless” by Wheeler Williams
“Heroic” by Mario Korbel
“Adventurous” by F. Lynn Jenkins
“Sturdy” by Mahonri Young
“Faithful” by Arthur Lee
“Trusting” by Jo Davidson
“Confident” by Bryant Baker
I admire the names they gave these pioneer women. These were the traits the women of the young state of Oklahoma had. But I think they apply to women throughout history and today. Protective, Determined, Challenging, Affectionate, Self-Reliant, Fearless, Heroic, Adventurous, Sturdy, Faithful, Trusting, and Confident.
Bryant Baker’s sculpture was chosen after the small statues traveled the United States and his received the most votes. Bryant Baker said of “Confident”, “. . . the woman was to me the courageous character marching out, carrying all her worldly belongings, her bible, and her son, the man of tomorrow to a new life . . . She is the abstract, beautiful, ideal woman of the spirit of great faith and hope.”
“Confident” was dedicated and set in place with a ceremony on April 22, 1930 with the closing speech given by Will Rogers (you can learn more about him in local Claremore, OK at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum).
The 12 original statues are in the Woolaroc Museum (see more about Frank Phillips and our visit to Woolaroc here) and you can see and feel the spirit of the traits they are given.
Visit Ponca City Oklahoma for Its History, Beauty and Culture And See The Marland Mansion and Marland’s Grand Home
The Marland Estate was established to educate the public about E. W. Marland, the founder of Marland Oil Company, and his whole family.
“The Palace on the Prairie”, the Marland Mansion, is an opulent mansion with gorgeous architecture and craftsmanship. The guidebook for the self-tour given to you when you purchase admission is well laid out and full of details about the features of the mansion.
And the features are impressive! In its 55 rooms, with 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, and three kitchens no expense was spared. The mansion was state of the art in the 1920s, featuring automatic dishwashers and refrigeration and an elaborate master bath.
Gold leaf-covered ceilings and Waterford crystal chandeliers is just one impressive feature in this grandiose home.
Amory and I had a picnic lunch on the beautiful grounds before seeing the gardens and architecture of the Marland mansion on the walking trail around the property.
The Marland Mansion was the second home to E.W. Marland and his family. The Marland Grand Home was their first home and it featured technology many had never seen, including a central vacuuming system, an automatic dishwasher, and the first indoor swimming pool built in Oklahoma.
Exhibits in the home are on display to learn about the history of the Marland family, Native Americans and more. Over 1,200 Native American artifacts from the Plains Tribes of North America and Southwest and Northwest Coastal Tribes are on display. Other exhibits include items from the traveling Wild West Show which was half circus and half rodeo, the local Daughters of the American Revolution, furniture from the office at Marland Oil in 1920, items used in fox hunting and polo from the Marland Hunting Camp, and a vast assortment of items from the 101 Ranch.
Visit Ponca City Oklahoma for Its History, Beauty and Culture And See The Standing Bear Museum & Education Center
The Standing Bear Museum honors the legacy of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, America’s first Native American civil rights leader. Standing Bear successfully argued in the U.S. District Court in 1879 that Native Americans are “persons within the meaning of the law”. His landmark speech stated that all American Indians deserved the same recognition and protection under the law as white men.
The museum honors the Native American culture in the Ponca City community and the six area Native American tribes Kaw, Osage, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee, Ponca and Tonkawa.
Wind your way to Standing Bear Park through native grasses to the monument site. The 22-foot bronze statue of Standing Bear sits in a colorful 60-foot diameter circular viewing court that contains large limestone boulders around its parameter affixed with bronze medallions of the official seals of the six area tribes.
Visit Ponca City, Oklahoma for its History, Beauty and Culture and See These Sites:
- The Conoco Museum located on South Avenue – it teaches about the evolution of Conoco’s identity from its early days until now
- Visit the Poncan Theatre to see the largest collection in the world of hand painted lobby art of the 1930’s. These large one-of-a-kind paintings once graced the fronts and lobbies of movie palaces. Also check the schedule for movies, live music and stage performances by The Evans Children’s Academy of Performing Arts and the Ponca City Concert Series.
- The John McNeese Art Gallery is located in the Ponca City Art Center. Enjoy free admission to this art museum with exhibits that change throughout the year along with a permanent exhibit.
- The Ponca City Library houses the Matzene Art Collection, a unique and extensive collection of artwork consisting of both Oriental and Western art.
- Kaw Lake and Lake Ponca
- Kaw Lake offers outdoor recreation like picnic areas, boat ramps, playgrounds, swimming beach, and two full service marinas.
- Lake Ponca has miles of shoreline where you can enjoy fun things like fishing, boating, water-skiing, camping, outdoor shelters and the Wentz Golf Course on the east side of Lake Ponca.
Ponca City’s Shopping Spots
Amory and I visited the consignment shops, antique malls, and small stores that lined the downtown area streets. We found some of the best places for second hand clothing, vintage goodies and Amory’s favorite type of wander!
- Kids and Her Review is an amazing consignment store! Thank goodness this was a road trip because if we had been flying we would have needed another suitcase! The owners were also able to tell us more history behind the Marland Mansion – a relative of theirs has worked for them in its heyday.
- In the Cherokee Strip Company we found rows and rows of antiques, quilts, native & estate jewelry, a vintage clothes room, and regional specialty items.
- The Marland Mall has three stories of vintage goodness like furniture, jewelry, art glass, pottery, clothing, records, books and so much more. We could have spent hours in this antique mall!
- And Amory’s favorite kind of wander – a quilt shop! And Completely Quilted does not disappoint. They carry cotton fabrics, threads, notions, gifts, embroidery supplies, finished quilts, books and patterns, sewing furniture, and the full line of Bernina sewing machines. Totally drool worthy if you are quilter like my Amory.
A Guide To Plan A Visit To Ponca City Oklahoma for Its History Beauty and Culture
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