You may have wondered why we chose the name “Boomtown Sisters” for our blog. If you’re from Oklahoma, you may be aware of what a boomtown is. If not, I’ll fill you in. A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally due to the discovery of a natural resource such as gold, silver, or oil. For Tulsa? It was most definitely oil. Tulsa eveolved from a frontier town to a boomtown with the discovery of oil in 1901 at Red Fork. Neighborhoods were built in Tulsa, across the Arkansas River from the drill site. Growth spread toward what is now downtown. In 1904, Tulsans constructed a bridge across the river, which allowed oil field workers, supplies, food and equipment to cross the river. This sealed Tulsa as the place to be as “liquid gold” was pumped out across the river. Because of the boom, Tulsa quickly became home to many oil tycoons. We are fortunate to have so many cool places to visit that were founded and funded by the men and women involved in Tulsa’s boom.
One of those cool places is Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Megan and I took the kids on Tuesday. They are currently running an exhibit entitled “Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon.” If you’ve never been to Gilcrease, let me give you a little background information.
Thomas Gilcrease was born in Robilene, Louisiana to parents of Scotch-Irish, French and Muscogee-Creek Indian heritage. As a young child, his family moved to Oklahoma. Thomas’s name was place on the Creek tribal rolls when he was nine. This membership made Thomas eligible for a 160 acre allotment of land in Oklahoma. This allotment just so happened to be located within the Glenn Pool oilfield, an extremely large pocket of oil. So began Thomas’s career in the oil business. And his success in that field (he was a multi-millionaire by the age of 20) funded his love of art. He founded Gilcrease Museum in 1949 as a private museum to showcase his ever growing collection of art of the American West, as well as collections of historical documents and artifacts. According to the museum’s website, “The art collection includes over 10,000 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures by 400 artists from colonial times to the present.” Alright, I know, enough with the history lesson!
The George Washington exhibit was fantastic! Several life size models of Washington are on display, as well as his horse. Also on display: A diorama of Mount Vernon, a room devoted to Martha’s clothing with a replication of her wedding dress, surveying equipment, a set of Washington’s dentures, and much more. Yes. I did say dentures. According to Emmy Lou, this was her favorite thing in the museum. They were made of a lead base with human teeth, cow teeth, elephant ivory “teeth”, brass wires, and steel springs. Washington had to apply constant pressure to keep the dentures closed and in his mouth. Can you imagine how sore his jaw was by the end of a day? Unbelievable. I found it extremely sad that he was so fastidious about the care of his teeth and still had to have them extracted due to decay. At the time he became President, he only had one tooth left! If you’d like to see these items yourself, you should definitely visit the museum. The exhibit will be on display until September 23. Or you can also visit the dedicated website, DiscoverGeorgeWashington.org. Make sure you check out the link for the Top 10 Objects in Exhibition. Definitely a cool place to check out! And all thanks to the boom.
Oh, and it’s totally haunted, too.