Oklahoma Again!

Leaving Lincoln

On our last weekend with family in Lincoln, Nebraska, we ate well… maybe even too well for a few here…


Cherryl and Casey making music… and a farewell breakfast was fabulous at Green Gateau!


Orphan Train Museum

As we headed south (Where we hoped it would be warmer!) we saw signs for the Orphan Train museum, in Concordia Kansas.  If you note the hours on the sign below, it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.  We didn’t feel it was worth the wait till Tuesday, but we looked around and read up on the Orphan Trains.

In the mid 1800’s, railroads were building lines across the country, and advertisements were sent all over the world, especially Europe, promising “free land” and a chance to start a new life.  Millions arrived in New York and Boston, and could not find work or decent housing.  Work that was found often involved very dangerous machinery, crippling or killing many.  Disease ran rampant and took an amazing number of parents.  With no family system for support, the children became wards of the court.  Many cities, but primarily Boston and New York, had thousands of orphans to deal with.  They arranged for children to be placed on trains headed west, and a different stops they would line the kids up and see who was willing to adopt them.  Many families felt sorry for the poor children, and many wanted children to be workers on their farms…

The Orphan Trains ran from the mid 1800’s till the 1920’s.  Numbers of children involved are hard to document, because records were spotty, and I think no one involved was really proud of what was going on.

Since the museum was closed, we just wandered the grounds, and looked at statues representing children that were adopted in this general area.


As we continued south, we decided to drive past Oklahoma City, our original estimate of a stopping spot.  A ways past the city is Ardmore, Oklahoma.  I have a good friend who I thought grew up in Ardmore, (Yep, Darrell, that’s you) so we figured that could be a good stopping spot.  Outside Ardmore is Lake Murray, and we found a very nice campsite here.  We’d thought of maybe two nights here… but it was so nice we extended it to a week!  Right on the lake, almost empty campground, very quiet and nice.





Lake Murray CCC

In 1929 the massive stock market crash precipitated the great depression.  Thousands were out of work, so President Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with federal works programs.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) were programs to get people work, and build cool state and national parks.  What a concept!… working for your country and your paycheck, instead of just a governmental handout…

They built in a style called “National Park Rustic”, very strong and fitting naturally into the environment.  Lake Murray has many of the CCC and WPA structures to explore.  Most of the following buildings were erected in 1933-35.

This water tower and pump house was used till the mid 50’s, when it was replaced with a new facility.



This little building (the pump house?) is locked up and empty.  At least Cherryl thought it was empty… The window on the other side has no bars or glass.  It is very dark inside, and Cherryl stuck her head in to see inside.  The occupant of of the house rushed to the window from the inside – and she screamed dramatically as a huge buzzard stopped a few inches from her face!  When she got out of the way, her new friend perched on a neighboring tree.





Lots of old cabins are in one large area, close to the original office building.




Tucker Tower was originally built hoping to be a retreat for Oklahoma governors, but that never worked out.  It is now the park’s nature center.  It has a beautiful view of the lake.



Many of the CCC buildings are made of huge stones, and really do blend in well with the natural environment.


This bridge and adjoining shelter is named in honor of E. J. Johnson, CCC project director in Lake Murray from 1935 to 1942.  A beautiful bridge that is not even noticed unless you get off the road and hike through the brush.




Icing on the Cake

To top off the week, we were going to an awesome vegetarian restaurant we found in Ardmore (Veggies) when we bumped into a gal we’ve known since she played with our daughters in grade school.  So she invited us to dinner at her house – and we had a very nice dinner and time with Chelsea and her great family!

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One comment

  1. I purchased a book on the orphan trains at our local train museum years ago. Interesting read…poor little kids. Have fun!

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