A few weeks ago I had a chance to travel to the central part of Oklahoma to do some research on a few books I have been working on. I had an opportunity to travel to Oklahoma City and Yukon. I went to elementary school and junior high in Oklahoma City and then we moved to Yukon where I went to high school.
Oklahoma City is the capitol of Oklahoma. Oklahoma in general is known as being one of the top 5 oil-producing states. On the capitol grounds today there is an active oil field with derricks near the state capitol building. Central Oklahoma also has more tornadoes per square mile than anywhere in the entire world. The conditions are just perfect for making tornadoes with the proximity to the warm Gulf Coast of Mexico and the cold air coming in from up north in Canada. That is a great mixture for tornadoes. I spent my fair share of time in underground storm shelters when I was younger and tornadoes were in the area.
Oklahoma City is famous for having the world’s largest stocker/feeder cattle market along with the well-known Cattlemen’s Cafe.
Since the beginning of “stockyards city” more than 102 million head of livestock have passed through the iron gates leading to the stockyards operation. The stockyards are located on Agnew Avenue and earned the nickname of “Packingtown”.
Stockyards City was founded in 1910 and was built to serve the United States as a primary source for meat processing and packing. With all of those cattle coming through the area I have to admit it does get to smelling kind of bad if you are downwind.
This is Cattlemen’s Restaurant which may not look like much on the outside. The food is some of the best in the world! Cattlemen’s is Oklahoma’s oldest continually operated restaurant and has been open since 1910. Cattlemen’s has been a gathering place for politicians, actresses, actors, singers, and many others over the decades. People like President Ronald Reagan, Gene Autry, John Wayne, country singer Reba McEntire, President George H.W. Bush, Toby Keith, Dr. Phil, Trisha Yearwood, Mayor Rudi Guiliani, Larry Hagman, and basketball great Bill Russell have all sampled the delicious food at Cattlemen’s.
I have been to Cattlemen’s a time or two in my life since my mom spent some time working there as a waitress when I was growing up. She would come home with loads of coins and dollar bills in her pockets from all of the tips since Cattlemen’s was usually a beehive of activity. The steaks are the best I have ever had. Maybe it’s because the beef is so fresh!!
After leaving Oklahoma City for the day I traveled west to Yukon a distance of about sixteen miles where I graduated from high school. The heart of Yukon is situated on historic Route 66. US Route 66 runs east to west from Chicago, through Missouri, Kansas, then Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and eventually ends up at Santa Monica, California for a stretch of about 2448 miles altogether.
Traveling west on Route 66 on the left side of the road in downtown Yukon is the “Yukon Mill and Grain Company”. In 1903 the mill became the largest flour plant in the state of Oklahoma and the southwest. By the 1930’s the mill had the capacity of two thousand barrels a day of flour. The mill is still in operation today.
Now you can imagine with that much flour being produced in a city with a population of about 23,000 that the school mascot had to in some way be related. This little fellow was our school mascot. I did spend a lot of time trying to explain to kids from other schools what a miller was. Many of them thought we were some sort of moths. Yukon was actually named after the Yukon Territory in Canada where there was a gold rush in the 1890’s. I think it would have been better to have a mascot like the “Golden Eagles”, or the “Golden Lions” or something that was a bit more explainable.
If you head further west on Route 66 and make a left on Highway 92 at the end of town and go down about a half mile or so you will see my old high school on the left hand side of the street. They have since converted it to a middle school. This old school is the school that the famous country singer, Garth Brooks also graduated from. Garth lived a few neighborhoods over from where we lived. He was in junior high school when I was in high school so I didn’t really know him. He was on the track team in Yukon and ended up going to Oklahoma State University on a track scholarship
If you continue traveling south on Highway 92 you will find this old water tower on the right hand side or west side of the street. After wrestling practice we had to run to the water tower and back from the high school. The round trip route was about 2 miles. Water was what we needed when we got back from that trip!
Highway 92 in Yukon was renamed Garth Brooks Boulevard in recent years to honor the favorite country singer. Garth is the most successful country entertainer of all time and is right next to Elvis Presley for all time album sales. The weather was beautiful on the day I spent there in Yukon and Oklahoma City. It was a great trip that brought back a lot of old memories that I hope to share more of with you in some of my upcoming books.