|Photo by Travis Edwards|
But what most people don't realize is the old highway is still alive and kicking. It's even an officially recognized Federal highway between Sapulpa and Beggs- and if you keep your eyes peeled you can make it all the way to Okmulgee on old highway 75.
US-75 spans the entire length of Oklahoma- from north to south. Like most highways it passes through small towns along the way, often following along the nearby railroad. The road to Okmulgee from Tulsa followed this same pattern and passed through Sapulpa, Keifer, Mounds and Preston.Then in 1959 a new section was opened which took travelers on an arrow-straight route located about 3 miles east of these small communities. The Okmulgee Beeline was born.
Of course I nodded and pretended I'd known that all along. Shhhh.
If you want to soak up all the alt road you possibly can between Tulsa and Okmulgee make note of these two junctions:
- Beggs: 75 Alternate heads east along with OK-16. If you fall for this you'll join the Beeline, but that's no fun. Continue due south from Beggs and you'll be on the old road.
- Preston: It's easy to miss this one, and not because Preston is such a metropolis. The old route is just hard to see here. Watch for the road the bends to the south just past the post office and you'll be headed to Okmulgee.
Okmulgee has been the headquarters of the Creek Nation since the Civil War. This area is where the Muscogee indians settled in the 1830s after their forced removal from their homes in the Southeast. The springs they found here they called “bubbling water” or okmulgee in the Creek language.
In 2010 the Muscogee (Creek) Nation finally bought the building back. Today the Creek Council House is a museum and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday and admission is free.
Oasis in the Oaks
|Photo by Travis Edwards|
Okmulgee Lake and Dripping Springs were built by the WPA and operated by the city of Okmulgee until being transferred to the state park system. The rock spillway is a landmark on OK-56 and can thrill passersby with an impressive waterfall after a heavy rain. Our record-breaking heatwave this Summer left the spillway dry for the first time I can recall.
Recreation at Okmulgee State Park includes nature trails, swimming, fishing and a boat ramp. Dripping Springs adds tent camping areas and RV hookups to the list along with 1150 acres of water. These twin parks offer a great getaway for an hour or a weekend.
Keep heading west on 56 if you’d like to visit Woody Guthrie’s hometown, Okemah. But that's a story for another episode.
Discover your own adventure off the Beeline...
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