The John Kilpatrick Turnpike

More stories from my travels….

Welcome back. First up this week, with all my traveling to different book stores to promote Footprints in the Dew I’m happy to report that the bookstore business is getting better. On Thursday night while I was at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City there was a steady stream of people browsing the thousands of book that the store keeps in stock. Sunday afternoon at Half Price Books in OKC it was the same story and the managers of both stores reported that sales are definitely up.

In between the two book signings I drove back to Tulsa where the big Boat and Travel Show was in full swing at the River Spirit Expo Center on the Tulsa Fairgrounds which is the big building. The R&K Gun Show was also going on in a smaller building to the east.

It was the 60th year for the Boat & Travel Show and with the good weather we had last weekend people came out in big numbers. Ten and a half acres full of millions of dollars’ worth of boats, RVs, hot tubs and just about anything else leisure related and I tell you it was quite amazing. I walked through the show and spoke with several of the dealers who all said sales were great!

Next door the R&K Gun Show also reported happy dealers and they had a line to get in the door on both days. I admit that I didn’t know much about the world of guns shows but after a little research I found that there are roughly 5000 gun shows held around the country every year and they are usually held at public facilities like the Tulsa fairgrounds. Although I thought the R&K show was large, apparently some shows have as many as 2,000 vendors. By comparison, there were around 500 at the Tulsa show. In addition to guns, I discovered that vendors at these shows also offer jewelry, carvings, vacation packages, books and an array of unusual things. Even if you’re not into guns there’s plenty of stuff that you might think you have to have. There’s a big one coming to Tulsa at the end of this month if you’re interested and if the river don’t rise I’ll be there for sure.

Cruising down the highways I often find a story in the most unusual places and wrapping it up this week is a good example. It’s not a person or a place but a highway called the John Kilpatrick Turnpike I’d like to tell you about.  It runs 25.3 miles from 1-35 north of Oklahoma City to 15th Street. If you don’t use it regularly, driving on the turnpike is a little tricky because there are no exit numbers assigned to any of the interchanges. The turnpike is used by 50,000 vehicles a day but it wasn’t always this busy. When it was first constructed many people thought the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was nuts to build a highway out in the middle of nowhere. After completion, The Oklahoman did a story about how few people were using the road but friends a man who is widely considered a visionary predicted that things would change in north Oklahoma City and did they ever. Today hotels, malls, car dealerships and restaurants line the highway. By know I hope you are asking who was this man who had a highway named after him?

In the 70s, 80s and 90s Kilpatrick was a very successful businessman and a prominent member of the Turnpike Authority where he served on the Board for over thirty years and was also Chairman. He was a strong believer in highway improvements across the state and had a big impact on our present day infrastructure. Kilpatrick’s dedication to serving the community doesn’t stop with the Turnpike Authority and a more thorough story about his accomplishments will be coming up soon. Now the next time you drive to Oklahoma City on John’s leg of the turnpike, you’ll know just who he was.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….