Fort Washita 2011

Once again I had a great weekend with my friends at Fort Washita.
The weekend started a day early and with me packing the Range Rover with my 1820’s kit. I kissed the wife and started out of the neighborhood and out of the 21st century in route to the 1820s. I decided the best course would be all back highways. Time was not a factor so I decided to see some parts of Oklahoma I haven’t seen before and take a long lazy drive south.

I started out of Norman along Highway 77. This was the main North-South highway before the Federal Highway Administration started building “the interstate”. I passed through Noble, Oklahoma. My wife finished high school in Noble and lettered in 3 sports there. I also passed through Slaughterville. You may have seen the Slaughterville sign that mysteriously found its way into my garage 25 years ago.

The next town was Lexington and on the north end of that town the site of the Camp Holmes Treaty.

The actual site is over there, somewhere.
We have reenacted that event at Fort Washita back in 2005. I portrayed one of the two Cherokees that attended that event.

This site also has a marker for the South Boundary of the Land Run of 1889.

I turned on to Oklahoma Highway 39 and headed east. The town of Lexington is here at this intersection. I snapped a picture of the now defunct Dairy Boy. Great sign and look at what it was like in the “olden days”.

I then entered into the post removal homelands of my son-in-law’s tribe, The Citizen Pottawatomie Nation.

OK 39 takes you out passed the Joseph Harp Correctional Facility and the Lexington Wildlife Management Area. Which sounds nice until you find out it is a public hunting ground. Famous for how dangerous it is to hunt there due to the number of hunters during the various seasons.

I turned off OK 39 and on to OK 102. This highway takes me through Wanette and what I hoped was a fun stretch of back roads to Byars. I was right. It was great.

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An old single lane bridge crosses the South Canadian River between Wanette and Byars. It was really fun. My wife hates…HATES…these old trestle bridges. The south bound highways and roads when they crossed the rivers of the southern half of Oklahoma were on bridges similar to these. There is a great panoramic picture in the Cleveland County Abstract offices of a couple of artillery units out of Fort Sill stopped on the trestle bridge south of Norman. My hometown of Newcastle has an old trestle bridge that is one of the signature icons of the town.

Well enough of that, back to the drive! I crossed the bridge and headed into what is left of the town of Byars. it is a textbook example of a Oklahoma town that has seen much better days.

I snapped a quick picture of a bar there in town named GiGi’s. I had a girl friend in high school who is a friend of mine on Facebook and I know she will like the pic.

I left the Byars on OK 59 on my way to OK 177. OK 177 is a long straight stretch through peach country. Stratford peaches are famous in Oklahoma. That weird metal hand with the butterfly statue is on this stretch.

I then passed through Sulphur, Oklahoma. This is the home of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Its a nice attraction for the town and for the Chickasaw Nation. I continued on to Dickson, Oklahoma and on to OK 199. OK 199 takes us into the town of Madill and on to Fort Washita.

I could feel the transmission when I pulled in to the Fort. I know there is something not right in there and I’m sure before the year is over I will need to get her into the transmission shop.

I was now at the Fort and I started my weekend with a walk passed the now burned out ruins of the former barracks. You have seen the post that announced the fire there. I got the scoop from the superintendent about the fire. Three drunk kids set the fire by lighting a roll of toilet paper and tossing it into the bathrooms on the west side. It didn’t take long and the entire structure was gone.

The next day one of the kids had a guilty conscience and ratted out the others. Two of the kids took the plea deal and the third who reportedly has family money is fighting the charges and going through a trial. I hope he goes to prison. The estimate to rebuild the barracks is around 1.2 million dollars. The state doesn’t have the money to replace it and probably never will. I’m a bit surprised that there was no insurance on the structure but that is a policy of a state agency. The communities are rallying around the fort and donations are rolling in. I’m sure it will be a few years before the jars of coins collected by the elementary schools will add up to a building. Its sad that stupid kids could be so careless and destroy something so many people loved.

I proceeded to plug my self in to the 19th century. I sat and watch my friends scrape hides and cleaned my musket.

The weather cooperated nicely and was beautiful all weekend. We made dinner and shared stories and played a new gambling game. It consists of 9 tiles number one through nine. You roll a pair of dice and with the number rolled you knock over tiles. For example if you roll a 7 you can knock over the 7 or a 5 and a 2 or 4 and 3, etc… It was fun.

We woke and had a great breakfast. We proceeded to scrape hides and then got all dressed up and wandered over to the sutler’s row. The attendance was very good. At times the guys had 30-40 people watching them scrape hides. We wandered around and got our pictures taken a lot. Its normal for us to be stopped every few yards for people to take our pictures.

After the crowd left we started on our Saturday night feast. We try really hard to have a period meal and enjoy  foods you don’t normally have. This year was roasted corn, green peppers and onions. We had squash and sausage and Cornish hens. We also now have a new favorite wine, Beaujolais.

I am certain we would have drank 4 bottles if I had brought four. Unfortunately we only had one bottle. So we wiped out the last of the port and red wine and the Beaujolais. We then started on the beer we brought. I had my fill of all of it and went to bed fat and happy.

Sunday morning dawned and we packed our things and headed out. I decided to take a different route home. Without a radio it was a quiet drive. The only sounds I could hear were the tires on the highway and wind coming through the windows. For some reason the sunroof would not open all the way. It was open for the entire trip down but for some odd reason it was behaving exactly as it did before I fixed it.

I took OK 199 to OK 99 to the outskirts of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. This is one of my favorite Oklahoma town names. I then took OK 22 to OK 7 and back to Sulphur. I took OK 177 to OK 29 through Wynnewood. I then went on to Elmore City and took OK 74 north toward Maysville, home of Wiley Post. I lived in Maysville for a short time when I was working nearby Lindsay, Oklahoma. I decided to take a drive passed the old apartment. It did not bring back any fond memories.

I blew out of town with the 30mph tail wind. I took OK 74 to Interstate 35. I decided my fun was over and joined the rat race on the interstate. I got home and unpacked the trusty Range Rover.

Each time I get her home I remember something else I need to work on. With my son about to graduate from high school the weekends are busy with activities. The grass will need to be cut soon and I still have not fixed the mower.

Last year I managed to hit some debris and bent the cam shaft on my Honda push mower. The part is 30$(US) and who knows how many hours tearing down the engine. I’ve never done small engine repair but I either take a shot at this repair or buy a new mower. A new Honda 21 inch is around 300$(US) so you can see my dilemma.

Well thanks once again for reading and Happy Rovering.

2 thoughts on “Fort Washita 2011

  • I have really enjoyed reading your blog! I’m particularly interested in where the monument of Camp Holmes is specifically located. I have photos of my Great Grandma and her siblings at the site probably in the forty’s and would love to visit it. If you could give me specifics I would really appreciate it. Thanks! Cheryl Outon (cheryl.outon@gmail.com)

    • The monument is located on Hwy 77 on the north side of Lexington, OK. There is a park there where the highway bends to the west. You can’t miss the monument as it is granite and visible from the road. The monument states the actual site is located a mile and a half away. The actual site today is on private land.
      Thanks for reading, cheers.

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