A beautiful weekend in Dewey and a great event!
Welcome back. It was 1905 when Herbert Tyler and his son Donald rode the train to the Indian territory of northeastern Oklahoma looking for a site where they could build a cement plant. At the time they needed a source of natural gas for their plant was well as large amounts of limestone and shale or clay. All of these things were plentiful in Washington County and they found just what they needed a mile north of the small community of Dewey, Oklahoma.
In 1906 the Tylers purchased land from a Delaware Indian, arranged to have a four mile rail spur constructed near their property and drilled several natural gas wells to operate the machinery they brought in for the plant. The company was named the Dewey Portland Cement Company with Frank Tyler as President and Herbert Tyler as Manager of Construction and Operations. According to the Washington County Centennial History book, all the principal stockholders were family members and the main office was in Kansas City.
The first cement ever made in Oklahoma was manufactured at the Tylers’ plant in 1908. Just as a side note, this was also the first cement in the world ever stored in concrete silos. The silos at the Dewey Portland Cement Company stood for over 100 years northeast of Dewey and were a well-known landmark in the area until they were recently demolished.
Today Dewey has many other attractions which bring in visitors from around the world including the Tom Mix Museum and the historic Dewey Hotel. The main street through town is named for the Tyler family and it is full of great shops and restaurants. Dewey is also the place where Jacob M. Bartles started the famous Dewey Round-up in 1908, offering some of the richest prize money in the country for rodeo contestants and featuring big name Wild West Show performers like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill. Although we don’t have the Round-up anymore, the folks in Dewey are becoming pretty well known for their own event and are drawing crowds to town every September. The 11th annual Western Heritage Days festival just concluded and organizers are saying they had the biggest crowds ever for two days of western style fun and activities. On Saturday things kicked off with a 5K through town to benefit the free mammogram program at Family Healthcare Clinic. Throughout the rest of the day there were historic re-enactments, a longhorn cattle drive, a great parade and many more goings on too numerous to list. There were plenty of vendors on hand as well with food and souvenirs.
On Sunday the action moved out to Ken and Marilyn Tate’s beautiful Prairie Song Village for a church service and breakfast followed by a big Wild West Show featuring trick riding, rodeo competitions and wrapping up with a performance by the world renowned One Armed Bandit, John Payne, and his family. I’ve caught his act several times at the big Denver Rodeo and Stock Show and it’s a real treat to see him in such a great setting so close to home.
If you missed Western Heritage Days this year, you definitely want to get it on your calendar for 2016 and in the meantime make sure to check out the downtown area, it’s well worth a stroll on a nice autumn day.
I’ll leave you this week with a quote from Tom Mix which was the theme for the weekend:
“The Old West is not a certain place in a certain time… It’s a state of mind. It’s whatever you want it to be.”
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……………………………..