What Travel Writers Say

Oklahoma City, O!K!

© By Mike Keenan
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.
Oscar Hammerstein II
Capitol Building, Oklahoma City

When Ontario's famed Stratford Shakespearian Festival set out to perform the musical, Oklahoma, they visited here to get a good feel for the setting, and the set that was later employed, artwork moving lustily across the expansive stage, beautifully captured the spirit and blue panorama expressed in Hammerstein's lyrics. One feels buoyed by sky here where I serendipitously discover the secret behind the legendary football team's nickname, the Sooners. Skyline, Botanical Gardens
     Those of a certain vintage will remember "Bud" Wilkinson, the Hall of Fame coach whose 1955 Sooners are considered one of the greatest teams in college football history. Let me explain.
     Oklahoma City was once a grass-and-timbered land of gently rolling hills flattening out into prairie whereas today, it sprawls across 625 square miles of America's heartland with a metro population over a million - one third of the population of the entire state.
     During the 1800s, the U.S. government forcibly relocated Indian tribes into the area known as Oklahoma Territory. One parcel of land was never given to any tribe - the Unassigned Lands. In the 1880s, many frontier Americans wanted to access this land. Soon, pioneers slipped into the area without authorization. They were the "Boomers," trying to force the government to open the territory up to homesteaders.
     On March 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation that did open up the Unassigned Lands and on April 22, 1889, about 50,000 homesteaders gathered at the boundaries. Some snuck over at night to stake out the prime land early, while hiding from army patrols. They were known as "Sooners." Hence the nickname.
     One learns much more here about Oklahoma City.
•   Admitted to the Union on November 16, 1907, the 46th state, Oklahoma means "Land of the Red People" in the Choctaw Language.
•   Divided into 77 counties with a total area of 69,957 square miles, Oklahoma's Indian population is 252,420, the largest of any state. Currently, 35 tribes maintain tribal councils in Oklahoma.
•   Oklahoma is equidistant from Los Angeles and New York, and within 500 miles of 71 million people.
•   Oklahoma City is located at the crossroads of I-35, I-40 and I-44 in the heart of Oklahoma. It's the second largest city in the continental U.S. based on geographical size.
•   The climate is mild, with four distinct seasons and an average temperature of 60F /15C. With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, outdoor recreation and activities are plentiful.
•   A center of commerce, the Chamber attracted industry and a number of packing plants in what is now Stockyards City. Back then it was known as Packing Town. Stockyard City takes one back to early cowboy days and Oklahoma's western roots.
•   On December 4, 1928, oil was discovered on the corner of SE 59th and Bryant Ave. In the pre-BP era, it was 27 days before the great gusher could be capped, spewing 110,496 barrels of oil. The Oklahoma City Field had been discovered, creating the city's most important financial resource and the world's newest boom town. Oil remains an important player in the city's economy.
     Oklahoma City is now a vibrant metropolitan phenomena, a unique blend of western heritage and urban energy that offers much to do for visitors. For dining, night life, sports and entertainment, Oklahoma City has it all. Check out Bricktown's historic warehouse district.

Bricktown Canal  Chihuly Tower, Museum Of Art  Museum Of Art  Lake Hefner Lighthouse  National Cowboy & Heritage Museum  National Memorial

     The city centre is not far off and the National Museum is a must-see. Quite touching is the memorial to the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building. The arts district is downtown and includes performances from ballet to Broadway. At the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, you will be entranced by the colourful and intricate glass work or stroll through 17 acres of Botanical Gardens. And only minutes away is the Capitol Building with over 100 works of art on display. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum offers incredible art work and sculptures to illustrate the storied past. The "Adventure District" serves up family fun with attractions such as horse racing, a zoo, science museum, casino and a softball Hall of Fame.
     The Oklahoma River on the southern boundary offers 7 miles of water with river cruisers, trails, parks and the Chesapeake Boast House. Finally, there are over 30 public golf courses and five lakes to explore, something wonderful here for everyone, and you will be singing, "the land we belong to is grand!" with the other exhausted visitors.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

If you go
This destination
as seen on
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_City
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Oklahoma_City
About.com: http://okc.about.com/
Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.okccvb.org/

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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