Saturday, July 1, 2023

2021-04-02: Day 11 Finishing Route 66 in Oklahoma and Turning South into Texas and Returning Home

Well finally we've reached the eleventh and last day of our roadtrip adventure. We started out in Maiden, NC in what Google said would take 18 hours and 1210 miles to drive to Killeen, TX. Now here we are starting our 11th day in Oklahoma City, following the famous Route 66, and soon to be making that left turn down into Texas. On this final day we found more Route 66 roadside attractions, more historic buildings and bridges, a ghost town and of course more geocaching counties! So without further delay, hope on board for the ride and let me show you what great places we found today...

Our first stop was for the Osiyo Big Cherokee geocache (GC96K4R). Located at the Cherokee Trading Post and Travel Center, it was a busy place. Lots of muggles prevented us from finding this geocache. Fortunately I found a previous geocache here, now archived, and already had the county.

On the side of one of the buildings there was this huge mural and statue depicting a scene from life here in the 1800's. This is just a small portion of that mural.

Just a few miles west down Old U.S. Highway 66 into Caddo County, and we get to another one of my favorite historical structures. The Pony Bridge (GC8YAQ7) is the longest bridge on Route 66 at 3,944 feet. A joint venture Oklahoma Federal Aid Project No. 164-H and officially named the William H. Murray Bridge, it spans across the South Canadian River and was completed on July 1, 1933. It was nicknamed the "Pony Bridge" because of its 38 pony style trusses.

Across the county we found the historical Provine Station and our next geocache (GCY1GQ). This old Route 66 gas station was built by Carl Ditmore in 1929. W.O. Waldrop purchased the gas station in 1934 and renamed it the Provine Station. A small tourist court was added for overnight stays. In 1941 Lucille and Carl Hamons became the next owners where they raised their three children in the upstairs living quarters. Lucille operated the business for 59 years.

Continuing westbound into Custer County and past Weatherford, my next geocache stop was for a "Cache Across America - Oklahoma" cache (GCXD60). There's nothing special about the cache or location. However this is a series and there is only one in each state with a bonus in Washington DC. I try to get them whenever I'm in the vicinity. One day when I finally retire, I'll plan a road trip specifically to get the remaining states in the series.

Well it's about that time now when we reached US-183 in Clinton, Oklahoma and leave Route 66 to make that left turn and drive south towards Texas.

A minute later we cross over into Washita County and soon arrived into the town of Bessie. Our first stop was at the Peace Lutheran Church. The church was organized in 1893. Land was given and a church building / schoolhouse was erected in 1906. This current building was constructed in 1942. The Lutheran Cemetery is next door as well. 

Another historical building in town, and the location of our next geocache (GC15MV7), was the 1916 Bessie Schoolhouse. There's a pretty nice mural on the side of the building depicting scenes of the early days in Bessie. Next door to the schoolhouse was where the bank used to be. Frank Simpson and Fletcher Rickard robbed the bank on January 24, 1928. During the robbery, the cashier of the bank, Ben Kiehn, was killed and Fletcher Rickard was wounded and died later the same day. Simpson escaped and was never caught. The granite cornerstones and granite "Bank" stone are part of the Bessie Memorial Park.

Continuing southbound on US-183, we passed through this small town called Rocky, Oklahoma. Rocky was established in 1898 when two businessmen settled and opened the Rocky Mercantile Store constructed from rock gathered at the Kiowa Reservation. At it's peak in 1930, the population was around 500. Today it is barely over 100. This old church and house caught my attention and I stopped for a quick photo.

Crossing over into Kiowa County, the next town is Hobart, OK. The Rock Island Depot (GCD1E8) was built in 1909 and was used until the 1970's. This was a busy location during the growing years of Hobart. these include World War I and II. The rapidly growing farming industry depended on this rail service to transport it's products. It was left in disrepair until the Kiowa county historical preservation society acquired it in 1987. After many hours of volunteer work and money it was reopened as a museum.

South of Hobart was the small community of Babbs. A picnic area along US-183 is the Babbs Switch Memorial and a virtual geocache (GCD1E9). It was set up to remember those who perished on Christmas Eve in 1924. On this date a Christmas party was going on in a 1-room frame school house when a candle, that was lit on the tree, started a fire. Since the doors to the room opened inward, the kids panicked, pressed against it and could not open it. Everyone inside perished. The school was rebuilt and was used to point the way to safer county schools nationwide. This tragic event is the reason all school doors open outward.

Our next two geocaches were in Tillman County at the Frederick Cemetery (GC7A74B, GC2HNE8). There are over 12,000 internments dating back to 1844. We didn't have time to look around so just finding the geocaches, a photo, and back on the road.

Well we finally made it to the Oklahoma-Texas state line. This means crossing the Red River Bridge (GC8D4F0). Even though highway traffic crosses a newer modern bridge, the old US-70/US-183 bridge is still there. The plaque mentions that it was built in 1939 by the Texas and Oklahoma Highway Departments. The length of its largest span is 75 feet, with a total length of of 5,463.2 feet and a deck width of 24 feet.

One last stop in Texas before reaching home. I wanted to stop by this old abandoned schoolhouse in the ghost town of Gilliland since we were so close. Back a couple of years ago when I was working nearby, I hid a geocache here and it seems to have gone missing. So I replaced it.

I wrote a blog a while back specifically about this town of Gilliland. I tell of the town's history and share a lot of photos of some of the abandoned businesses and houses. You can take a look and read the stories by clicking here.

So that was our 11 Day, 3404 Mile Adventure starting in North Carolina and returning to Texas. Taking the long northerly route of course! Here's a recap with links to each days blog post:

Day #1Turning a 1400 Mile Drive into a 3404 Mile Road Trip! Day 1 in North Carolina and Virginia
Day #2Virginia, DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania
Day #3: Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio
Day #4: Ohio and Indiana
Day #5Visiting the Birthplace of Ben Hur in Indiana
Day #6Visiting Presidents Lincoln and Reagan in Illinois
Day #7Touring More Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 Sites in Illinois
Day #8Visiting history in St Louis, Missouri via Route 66 and the Gateway Arch
Day #9Exploring the Historic Route 66 Through Missouri
Day #10Cruising Route 66 Through Kansas and Oklahoma

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

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