Buildings Reclaimed by the Prairie

An old hotel built of stone, old schools, roadside motel and a rock house abandoned to undergrowth are reclaimed eventually by the prairie that mothered them.

Have you driven past this old hotel in Muskogee? I’ll bet you have. It was last used as a hunting supply store and is located on highway 16 which enters Muskogee from the West and is named Okmulgee Street.

This was the front office. It is overgrown with vines, signs are gone and windows are missing. The rear cabins each stood separate and housed one traveling family.

The cabins are constructed of flat native stones as are many park cabins and shelters that were built by the W.P.A. in the dust bowl days of the Great Depression.

The arch above each “cabin” was outlined with bricks, possibly bricks from the Boynton Brick Factory. Now the property is abandoned and the prairie has reasserted itself in every crack and crevice. Shrubs and grass and weeds and trees are breaking up concrete and stone work.

Time and weather have rotted doors and window frames. Animals have found shelter along with hobos and vagabonds. Neighborhood children may have played here and teens lingered in the forsaken roadside rooms.

At night I imagine owls haunt the spaces.

What was this place like in 1950? I imagine an old car parked at one of the cabins, a father carrying a box of food and some luggage to the door. A child is playing in the grassy area out behind the motel. A mother seated in a old wooden chair nursing her baby in the welcome shade of a Osage Orange tree.

God has erased the scene with time and change and covered it with vines and branches, grass and wildflowers. I heard birds singing overhead, cicadas thrumming their afternoon songs, and wind like ghosts moving in the shadowy places making leaves shiver.The prairie wins!

Buildings Reclaimed by the Prairie

An old hotel built of stone, old schools, roadside motel and a rock house abandoned to undergrowth are reclaimed eventually by the prairie that mothered them.

Have you driven past this old hotel in Muskogee? I’ll bet you have. It was last used as a hunting supply store and is located on highway 16 which enters Muskogee from the West and is named Okmulgee Street.

This was the front office. It is overgrown with vines, signs are gone and windows are missing. The rear cabins each stood separate and housed one traveling family.

The cabins are constructed of flat native stones as are many park cabins and shelters that were built by the W.P.A. in the dust bowl days of the Great Depression.

The arch above each “cabin” was outlined with bricks, possibly bricks from the Boynton Brick Factory. Now the property is abandoned and the prairie has reasserted itself in every crack and crevice. Shrubs and grass and weeds and trees are breaking up concrete and stone work.

Time and weather have rotted doors and window frames. Animals have found shelter along with hobos and vagabonds. Neighborhood children may have played here and teens lingered in the forsaken roadside rooms.

At night I imagine owls haunt the spaces.

What was this place like in 1950? I imagine an old car parked at one of the cabins, a father carrying a box of food and some luggage to the door. A child is playing in the grassy area out behind the motel. A mother seated in a old wooden chair nursing her baby in the welcome shade of a Osage Orange tree.

God has erased the scene with time and change and covered it with vines and branches, grass and wildflowers. I heard birds singing overhead, cicadas thrumming their afternoon songs, and wind like ghosts moving in the shadowy places making leaves shiver.The prairie wins!

Wild Prairie Roses

In a dry and sun-filled place like this along a fence bordering a highway, a wild rose bush will encumber a fence until it hides it completely. It is a beautiful sight in late May and early June. I found this rose along highway 16 in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.
An old fence post is barely visible. You can’t see the barbed wire at all.
A rose bush can grow up a post or tree and overtake it.
This bush is brighter colored than most. It was at an abandoned homesite.
 
In shady spots, the pasture rose blooms. 
Its blooms are less profuse and  the simplicity is wonderful.
Finding a wild rose climbing a pasture fence, is like finding a friend in an unexpected place.

Wild Prairie Roses

In a dry and sun-filled place like this along a fence bordering a highway, a wild rose bush will encumber a fence until it hides it completely. It is a beautiful sight in late May and early June. I found this rose along highway 16 in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

An old fence post is barely visible. You can’t see the barbed wire at all.
A rose bush can grow up a post or tree and overtake it.

This bush is brighter colored than most. It was at an abandoned homesite.
 
In shady spots, the pasture rose blooms. 
Its blooms are less profuse and  the simplicity is wonderful.
Finding a wild rose climbing a pasture fence, is like finding a friend in an unexpected place.


Western Ranch Gates

Wagons wheels are a popular addition to old farm and ranch gates in the Oklahoma countryside. This gate, which I saw near Morris, Oklahoma, has wagon wheels on the overhead bar as well as on the swinging gate and the side panels. Most true ranch gates don’t have a hinged gate to close, but rely on cattle gaps to keep livestock inside. Often the gates are built with pipe, painted and embellished with the brand of the ranch. I think of a ranch’s brand as a sort of logo.
 
 This gate is quite ornamental with figures of cows decorating the arch and a red wagon wheel gate with a large “S”. Perhaps the “S” is for the owner’s last name Smith, Stevens, Stokley, or Snider. Perhaps, it is the ranch name, something like the “Big S Ranch,” or the “Swinging S Ranch.” I can only guess. This gate is one of my favorites because it looks so friendly and inviting. It is east of Okmulgee.
 
This beautiful gate frames the western sky. I think its design says there are some hills and you see the land begin to roll off uphill from the center of the photo and right. The design has a modern feel to it and an optical effect that pulls your eye to the great wide open Oklahoma sky. Can you envision it with a rosy flame of a summer sunset behind it?
 
The Double “B” Ranch? Maybe the owners first names start with the letter “B” like Ben and Barbara. 
It’s hard to guess at this brand. It could be the Circle B Ranch. The gate and cross bar frame the sky too and makes the land feel open and unlimited.
Here is something I spotted near Haskell, Oklahoma. An old airport entrance gate.
It is a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork, though looking a bit worse for wear. 
The half-circles build up like clouds and to set it off there are on each side whole circles set with spinners to look like airplane propellers. See below.
This next gate is located along Highway 16 north of Morris, Oklahoma. 
It looks like the owners had painted it red and later tried white. I
love the wagon wheel as a symbol of Oklahoma’s pioneer heritage. 
Notice the oil storage tanks behind the gate. Oil wells still dot the countryside out here.
I’m guessing this one is the Lucky B Ranch. 
It might be owned by the Browns or the Bullards or the Bryants.
 
 This green gate is northeast of Okmulgee, Oklahoma off Gun Club Road which turns off Highway 75 
north of town by the Best Western hotel. 
I don’t know what the “C” or the “M” stand for, but I like the little bell on the top 
of the gate.I didn’t check but this may be at the intersection of Gun Club Road and Prairie Bell Road. 
That would explain the bell.
 
Now for a famous one. Here is the gate of the quiet Allen Ranch near Bixby,
where long-horned cattle were once raised. Don’t you love the horns on the crossbar? Later, the ranch was used as a sort of wild west animal park. School children of the area were taken there on field trips. They were taken on hayrides or trail rides and sang with guitar strumming cowboys around campfires or drove through the acreage to see bison, longhorns, and exotics like zebras and camels. 
See the wagon wheel beside the gate?
If you are driving through Oklahoma watch for these ranches and their gates. 
It is a real slice of Americana.