Oklahoma has a rich history that many of its own inhabitants might not be aware of. From notable landmarks to just downright incredible attractions, there are a lot of great secrets just waiting to be found across the state for anyone adventurous to seek them out. This article from Why Not Oklahoma looks at ten secrets about the state that you might not know about.
1. The Center of it All (Tulsa, OK)
Have you ever thought about where you are in the world? How about where the center of the entire universe stands? Residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma, only need to take a short trip downtown to find the answer to this question. While the Center of the Universe is not much of a sight to see, just being a designated concrete circle, it is one of the city's most popular secrets.
The center of the Universe is an auditory rarity. If you were to stand in the hub of the circle and make a noise, the sound would travel back to you even louder. Not only is that astounding, but it is said that if you were on the outside of the circle, you would not hear a thing. Next time you are in Tulsa, make sure you seek it out and give it a try yourself!
2. Soda Pop Heaven (Arcadia, OK)
Think about your favorite type of food. Maybe it's bacon or lemon meringue pie. Well, you might have all your dreams come true at Pops in Arcadia, OK. Pops is an iconic destination right off Route 66. This unique gas station, convince store, and restaurant has over 600 soda flavors to choose from, including pumpkin, banana nut, peanut butter and jelly, and even something called freaky dog soda.
Not only does Pops have a variety of sodas to choose from they also are home to the world's largest soda pop bottle. This bottle landmark is an eye-catching sight - standing 66-foot tall and weighing 4 tons. Even better, this sculpture can also be seen at night. LED lights brighten the night sky from this landmark with various colors.
3. Oklahoma's Largest Peanut (Durant, OK)
It has been said that you can find Oklahoma's most giant peanut in Durant, Oklahoma. And it is located in the heart of downtown on Evergreen Street. Anyone looking for the peanut will find it on the southeast corner of Durant City Hall. Although this giant peanut made of cast iron is not the largest globally, it is still a sight to see if you do happen to stumble your way into downtown Durant on Evergreen St.
We recommend taking a few Instagram-worthy pictures and then making your way down the road one block east to Opera House Coffee. This peanut journey pit-stop is a fabulous/chic coffee shop located on the corner of Evergreen St. and 2nd Ave. Perfect for people of any age. The business offers homemade syrups, coffee, hot cocoa, tea, lemonade, pastries, and an assortment of other food options.
4. Coaster Road (Wewoka, OK)
Have you ever been on a swing and closed your eyes and felt as if you were on a roller coaster? What about on a road that makes your stomach drop. Just North of Wewoka lies Roller Coaster Road; a road claimed to feel like you are riding a roller coaster. The road's actual name is Country Rd. NS 366; however, Coaster Road has a better ring to it. This road stretches for over a mile through the small town of Wewoka, Oklahoma.
5. America's Most Toxic Town (Picher, OK)
Picher, Oklahoma, was a small-town built around led and zinc, making it the most toxic town in America. During World War I, Picher mine shafts composed over half of the lead used throughout the conflict. This town's zinc ore mines continued to churn, and their efforts continued into World War II. Many years of deriving ore from the ground drove the town to become highly toxic.
The contaminated bioproduction (chat) was causing a ton of lead poising in children's bodies. Kids would ride their bikes across piles of chat. People would even use it as filler material in driveways. There were piles of chat that reached 150 feet tall and about four football fields wide. The mining finally stopped in 1970, but it was already too late. Picher, Oklahoma, is now only known as a ghost town.
6. Hugh and His Pal Blue (Catoosa, OK)
As a kid, you may have heard the biblical story of Jonah – and how he was eaten and lived in the belly of a whale. Hugh Davis just might have made it possible for you to be like Jonah. Well, not exactly. In 1972, Davis wanted to build a special 34th-anniversary gift for his wife. That's when he decided to construct a whale on an old pond in Catoosa, Oklahoma, and call it Blue.
During construction, Davis was also thinking about the neighborhood kids and how they could use the whale as a dock and a slide into the old pond. Today the Blue whale of Catoosa has become a tourist attraction along route 66. This attraction is free for visitors to explore inside Blues belly, sort of like Jonah.
7. Marland Mansion (Ponca City, OK)
Ponca City, Oklahoma, has a lush history, and the Marland Family plays a vital role in it. In 1928 the Marland Mansion was built, costing E.W. Marland around 5.5 million. E.W. was an oilman and considered by many to be a contemporary ruler. In the 1918's, the Marland oil company was built and became one of the outstanding economic achievements in the oil industry. Today the Marland Mansion has been restored to its glory and can be toured by visitors. This is one way people can be informed of E.W. Marland and his family history.
8. The Spiral Slide (Oklahoma City, OK)
City Place Skyscraper is one of the most unique buildings in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a mixed-use building, City Place Skyscraper is home to several notable tenants, including the Oklahoma Department of Securities, Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office, UMB Financial Corporation, and Anderson Prichard Oil Corporation. However, the real secret is that this building has a spiral slide that reaches all 33 floors down the central shaft. Originally the slide was made as a fire escape system.
Although the slide may not be made available for public use due to liability issues, it is cool to know that it exists within one of Oklahoma City’s skyscrapers. If you are visiting the area, make sure you check out some of the local parks to get a scaled down version of what you would expect. Unfortunately, that’s the best that most of us can hope for!
9. The Hidden Chinese Underground (Oklahoma City, OK)
Below Oklahoma City, adventurers might find passageways once built for the Chinese community. Anti-Chinese groups pushed the culture underground across the country, including our state. Most of the Chinese people who were driven underground were young men searching to make money to take back home.
In the 1920s, health inspectors discovered these underground passageways during a flu epidemic. Then more were found after tearing down the old Commerce and Exchange building. The city's mayor wanted to preserve the area; however, others wanted to keep the construction going, and, unfortunately, the initially discovered tunnels were lost forever. But many more could still be awaiting discovery!
10. A Vintage Cobblestone Resort Town (Medicine Park, OK)
In 1908, Medicine Park became Oklahoma's first resort town – subsequently becoming a vacation area for bootleggers and outlaws. The founder, John William Elmer Thomas, became the U.S. Senator in 1926 and sold the park to a corporation. After this, Medicine Park had its ups and downs but still stands today.
Medicine Park has become a great vacation area for people of many ages – featuring many diverse activities to do both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor activities include hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking. Indoor activities include an aquarium, shopping, and even places to eat. Medicine Park is a perfect getaway with your family!
Share Your Secrets
At Why Not Oklahoma, we are always looking for the best ways to highlight the great attractions and things to do around the state. If you know of a secret that didn't make this list, please share it with us below! Together we can help make the state of Oklahoma one of the top places to visit and keep building our economy by ensuring local businesses get the support they deserve.