Friday, August 12, 2011

Oklahoma's Roadside Architecture

Notable Design at a Mile a Minute

Interstate Teepees in Oklahoma I see a lot of cool buildings and structures along the highway.

There's probably a higher concentration of unique designs out on the road because of the desire to catch your attention as you whiz past. Some of the most interesting roadside attractions are also the most mundane.

Consider the lowly highway rest stop. Many of our state's rest areas don't even offer travelers a rest room. But a few rest stops found along Oklahoma interstates feature picnic tables under stylized tepees. I've always admired this clean and simple form made of shelter. Nothing more than three sticks and a circle.

It's All Concrete
Many of these roadside structures were built during the Golden Age of Interstate Building. And one of the mid-century solutions to shelter stylish picnickers was concrete. Lots of concrete.

Concrete Shelters in EnidI spotted a good example of structural concrete shelters at a city park in Enid. These umbrella-like canopies, and their single support, are made completely of concrete. The design is not common, but has been used in several municipal parks throughout this region of the country.

Public works projects are a common place to find structures accessorized with the latest look. State parks, lodges and resorts have a certain "look" that I've always admired. Take this simple little shelter that overlooks Broken Bow Lake. It appears to serve as nothing more than a bulletin board holder. But a pleasant one none the less.
Broken Bow Dam Overlook

State lodges were especially a place of pride. The Fifties and Sixties were the height of state lodges in Oklahoma, and Western Hills Lodge at Sequoyah State Park near Wagoner is one of our last examples. The combination of sandstone and redwood is the epitome of mid-century style, and the tomahawk-shape sign echoes the western theme.

I could go on for hours.

These are just a few images. There are many more examples waiting to be discovered on your next roadside adventure.

Originally published  June 2008 on Oklahoma Modern.

Two Wheel Oklahoma

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma