Saturday, September 12


Greetings, dear reader!

It is I, Paula Clare, your friendly neighborhood tour guide. Today we continue our tour of Route 66 via the Oklahoma trek...while enroute to Oklahoma City, we saw this:

Which eventually took us (via the 9 foot wide original pavement again) to this:

A lovely little shelter with a fireplace situated in the woods with bird feeders everywhere...and this:

Well..."What the heck is it?" You ask? It's the World's Largest Totem Pole...smack in the middle of what is now known as Totem Pole Park!

Ladies, and gentlemen, if you will kindly direct your gaze to the right side of the tour bus, you will see one of the best kept secrets of Route 66: Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park in Foyil, OK. Before I get into the details, take a look at some of the detail on the totem pole itself!

Truly gorgeous! AND, because one of the preservationist artists were on hand, the inside of the totem was open as too is beautiful!

Murals on the side of the interior...depicts assorted Native Tribal Leaders

The door leads to the top of the pole, so maintenance work can be done.

Originally built in you will see depicted, many Native Tribes are "clans" that are represented by different animals. The base of the totem honors the Turtle Clan.

Hubby Dear spoke to the artist, who told us she personally knew the creator, Ed Galloway. My husband kept asking, "Was he a Quirky? Weird?" The artist assured him, "No, he was just an industrial arts teacher that was always pushing the envelope...always trying new things." We found out in the course of our discussion that Mr. Galloway was not himself Native American, but he had friends who were, and wanted to honor them with a totem pole.

And, wow! Old Ed even made the Wikipedia! Behold, the story:

Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park consists of eleven objects and one building on 14 acres (57,000 m²) in Rogers County, Oklahoma. The park is ten miles (16 km) north-east of Claremore and is located 3.5 miles (6 km) east of historic U.S. Route 66 and Foyil. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1999 and is currently owned and operated by the Rogers County Historical Society and the Foyil Heritage Association.

History and creation

After more than 20 years as a manual arts teacher at the Children’s Home orphanage in Sand Springs, OK, in 1937 Ed Galloway retired and moved his family to a small farm near Foyil. Shortly afterwards he embarked on an ambitious folk art project to create a three-dimensional totem pole using modern building materials. After eleven years of work, Galloway’s totem pole was completed in 1948 and topped out at approximately 90 ft (27 m) in height. The totem pole’s construction took six tons of steel, 28 tons of cement, and 100 tons of sand and rock. The base is 30 ft (9 m) wide and rests on the back of a colourfully painted turtle. It is decorated with approximately 200 bas relief images of brightly colored Native American portraits, symbols, and animal figures that cover the entire totem pole from the base to its pinnacle.

And not just one totem pole, but many:

The park also features Galloway’s eleven-sided “Fiddle House” which is supported inside and out by 25 concrete totem poles. It previously housed his hand-carved fiddles, handmade furniture, and bas relief portraits of all of the US Presidents up to JFK. It was Galloway's goal to make a fiddle out of every kind of wood in the world...he made over 300 types before he passed away.

The park also contains four smaller concrete totems, two ornate concrete picnic tables with animal-form seats, a barbecue, and four sets of animal-form gateposts.

Galloway lived at and worked on the park every day up to his death in 1962 of cancer. Some say that he hoped to use his work to educate young people about Native Americans, but others claim he thought it would be a good thing for youngsters, Boy Scouts in particular, to visit.


In the decades following Galloway’s death, all the sculptures began to deteriorate from weather and neglect. In the 1990s, an extensive restoration effort was spearheaded by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association. The outdoor sculptures were restored and repainted, and the Fiddle House was brought back from the brink of collapse and transformed into the Fiddle House Museum and Gift Shop.

Thank you for riding with Paula Clare tours! Meet you at the bus tomorrow...same time, same channel!


1 comment:

creative breathing said...

Holy totem pole! That was such a fun tour. I felt like I was right there with you. This is just so much fun! Can't wait for next installment. E