Welcome back. I often write about towns like Coffeyville, Kansas whose history, including the famous shoot-out with the Dalton Gang, has made the community a popular place for tourists. Dewey, Oklahoma is another place that draws tourists who come to see the Tom Mix Museum and the Dewey Hotel with all its memorabilia which I personally enjoy. The replica frontier town out at Prairie Song is also a great spot to visit if you’re interested in the old west.
Bartlesville has its own share of historic places that make you feel you are stepping back in time. The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum downtown is one place I often recommend along with the Bartlesville History Museum next door and of course the Frank Phillips Home and Woolaroc which are favorites of both locals and tourists.
Now there is another piece of history in the making that we may not live to see become a tourist destination but which will definitely become one over time so here’s the scoop. A multi-million-dollar upgrade to Highway 60 between Bartlesville and Pawhuska not only opened up beautiful scenic views of Osage County but also made this part of the county more accessible for businesses. Several weeks ago, I told you about the new Osage Casino and Hotel being built two miles outside of Bartlesville on Highway 60 west. Sitting on top of a hill overlooking the town, it will be a draw from the opening day.
The Osage Tribe has also broken ground on another big casino and hotel along Highway 60 just about one mile east of Pawhuska in an area where you will also find a new bank next to a new dentist’s office near Sonic, McDonald’s and a Dollar General.
Yes Highway 60 will never be the same and there’s more. In downtown Pawhuska new out of town money has bought up several vacant buildings which are being renovated. It’s all good but for you older locals who may remember that sleepy little county road called Highway 60 winding its way up and down through the hills of the Osage, well it’s gone! Driving around Bartlesville and Pawhuska you will see many cars with out-of-town plates and you will find these people buying gas, eating out and filling the hotels. Again, it’s all good but this growth has especially transformed Pawhuska bringing as you well know much needed tourist dollars.
This week I’ll end with a profile of one more new business I just discovered along Highway 60 that is benefiting from this economic development. It’s called the Dam Place General Store and Campground and their buildings are on the highway going toward Ponca City just a block north of Kihekah Street. The store is in a new metal building and it is filled with food and snacks for travelers. They have very clean restrooms and across the street there is an RV campground complete with three cute little cabins which overlook the valley below. I am giving the Dam Place General Store and Campground this plug because this is not your everyday enterprise. No friend, the organization behind this business is Helpwork, Inc. a not-for-profit that helps adults with disabilities in Pawhuska. They are currently assisting thirty-five people some of whom work in the store and at the campground. I’ve also seen these folks picking up trash on streets and sidewalks downtown. This is a great new organization giving a helping hand to those that need it so I hope you will check them out the next time you’re in town. Bartlesville has a similar program called AbilityWorks of Oklahoma which offers quite a bit more in training, employment and housing for folks with disabilities. They also run a giant resale store and shredding service at 501 S. Virginia that is well worth a visit.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….