VISIT PAWHUKA and look for copies of OUR Visit Pawhuska Magazine throughout town...
Featuring over 25 World Champions from every discipline of equine sports: Rodeo, Race Horses, Polo, Jockeys, including the World’s Greatest Cowboy Craftsmen of Bits, Spurs & Saddle Makers and the most ICONIC Ranches in the History of the World, including the Drummond, Mullendore and Chapman-Barnard Ranches all from Osage County. Paid Admission. www.facebook.com/benjohnsoncowboymuseum
World’s Greatest “Real Life” Cowboy Actor
Born June 13, 1918 at Foraker, Oklahoma / Died April 8, 1996 at Mesa, Arizona
WWI was drawing to a close at the worst of times for America when the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 had killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. It was about this time on June 13, 1918, that 16 year old Ollie Johnson gave birth to Ben Johnson Jr. at Foraker, Oklahoma. Ben’s younger years on the Chapman Barnard Ranch were spent learning how to do ranch work and ride a horse and rope. Ben grew long and lean and tough as leather.
Western movies were gaining in popularity when Ben Jr. was offered the job of taking a string of horses to Hollywood. While there tending the horses, Ben was watching the filming of a movie when a buggy ran away with a woman. Ben, knowing what to do, rushed to stop the runaway buggy. The director asked Ben if he could be a movie star, and Ben replied he did not know, he had never tried it. The rest is history. Ben was a stuntman, and he was good at it. When Ben married, he continued his movie career. While some people dream of becoming a movie star, Ben Johnson Jr. traded his “stars at night are big and bright” to become a Hollywood movie star. Not many actors take their own horse and saddle with them on their road to fame.
Being a rodeo champion roper, and the son of Ben Johnson Sr., who was a World Champion Steer Roper, Ben continued his work to become World Champion PRCA Team Roper. He once said that he was prouder of that than anything he ever did in the movies. Promoted by the famous Director John Ford, Ben starred in over 200 movies, ending his career late in life with an Oscar and BAFTA award.
Ben always loved children and he had a big heart. He started a charity for kids, and he helped many young kids get a start in life. Ben always loved to come back to Pawhuska, and he did so often. When he returned to Pawhuska, he was always at home in his boots, jeans, ironed shirt, and cowboy hat. He never met a stranger, and he would visit “down home style.” Ben never liked cussing in movies, and he turned down some jobs because he felt bad language should never be spoken around women and children.
Being a favorite son of Pawhuska, the town decided to have Ben Johnson Day and show some of his old movies at the Constantine Theater. Ben spent the day laughing and talking with friends, and just shortly after he returned to visit his mother at their Arizona Ranch, Ben Johnson had a heart attack and passed away. Ben was carried home to rest in a modest grave on the Oklahoma prairie that he loved so much. He is buried in the Pawhuska Cemetery. Around Pawhuska, Ben Johnson’s name stands for all that is good and honorable.
Located next to the Osage Nation Executive Building in Osage County, Pawhuska Oklahoma, the Million Dollar Elm was the site of public oil and natural gas lease auctions that began in November 1912. Colonel (his real name) Ellsworth Walters, of Skedee in Pawnee County, Oklahoma, became the official auctioneer of the Osage Nation in 1916. Under his direction the auctions usually began at 10:30 a.m. and often continued until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. In attendance were such notable oilmen as Frank Phillips, L. E. (Lee Eldas) Phillips, Waite Phillips, William G. Skelly, and Ernest W. Marland. Millions of dollars were bid beneath the tree, thus its designation as the "Million Dollar Elm." In 1970 the Oklahoma Petroleum Council and the Oklahoma Historical Society dedicated a monument to the elm. The tree died of Dutch elm disease during the early 1980s and was cut down, but the monument remained.
The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest (39,650 acres) protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth. Originally spanning portions of 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, urban sprawl and conversion to cropland have left less than 4% of this magnificent American landscape. Since 1989, the Conservancy has proven successful at restoring this fully-functioning portion of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem with the use of about 2,500 free-ranging bison and a “patch-burn” model approach to prescribed burning.Tallgrass Prairie Preserve offers some excellent wildlife watching opportunities due to the variety of natural habitats. In addition to the more than 700 plant species on the preserve, more than 300 bird and 80 mammal species make the prairie their home. Visitors can experience the open prairie while viewing bison along the 10-mile driving loop. There are also patches of cross timbers (upland native oak woodlands) along the route.Please observe the following guidelines when visiting: Bison are dangerous! When viewing bison, there are three rules: #1: Stay in your car!#2: Stay in your car! And #3: Stay in your car! Stay on the trail. Don’t collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers. No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance. No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled. No hunting, camping or campfires. Please do not leave behind trash. Bring a bag and carry it out. Please report to us any problems you observe (e.g., camping, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicle damage, etc). Contact Tallgrass Prairie Preserve Original Article from918.287.4803 www.nature.org
The Osage Nation Museum is the OLDEST Tribally Owned Museum in the United States. Once part of the original boys boarding school located on the top of the hill where the Capital of the Osage Nation resides. This Museum is devoted to Osage history, art, and culture. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, with traditional and contemporary art. The Premier destination to experience Osage culture, Dedicated on May 2nd, 1938. FREE to the Public, Donations Welcome.
Pawhuska has one of the only swinging pedestrian bridges in Oklahoma. This bridge has been making people’s stomachs drop for almost a Century. If you can stir up the courage you will be able to have an experience that is sure to remain as one of your highlights while visiting Pawhuska. The bridge crosses over Bird Creek and is of special interest during the rainy seasons when the creek banks are covered by high water. This is a must see location, whether you live here or are just visiting.
Pawhuska’s venerable landmark that’s thrilled and terrified every creek crosser since the early days of Pawhuska. In its original use, the swinging bridge was the only way people could get across the creek into Pawhuska.
The foot bridge was designed by City Engineer J.M. Buckley and was built in 1926, and then referbished in 1970. Efforts are currently being made to improve the grounds, and the park adjacent to the bridge.
The bridge is safer than ever with high side rails and still has its original bounce and swing when occupied. Those having issues with heights can always watch from one end while stirring their courage. Of course, Kids Love It!
The Osage County Historical Society Museum preserves artifacts, but more important are the peoples’ stories that would fade into the sands of time. Four major areas are featured - Ranching, Oil, Osage Heritage and Settlers of The Osage. The bookstore is rich with heritage stories and research material. Recently, the museum assisted David Grann in his research for his book “Killers of the Flower Moon”, which is currently being made into a motion picture staring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Osage County is rich in ranching history. Four major ranches developed from lands purchased for the Osage people. The museum features the history of brands, the Hadden Chuck Wagon, guns from early reservation days, and saddles, etc. from early cattle history. Lawlessness thrived from the beginning of Osage County. Murder was commonplace and early day lawmen were tough and unrelenting. There were bank robbers, train robbers, bootlegging and whiskey. All of this amazing history is present throughout the museum for our guests to see.
The Osage Heritage artifacts include photographs, as well as beaded items, finger weaving, and ribbon work. Many well known chiefs are featured, as is a special Osage exhibit room provided by the John Moncravie family. A special Maria and Marjorie Tallchief ballet case features the story of America’s Prima Ballerina, Maria, and her sister, Marjorie, who was equally ranked in Paris, France. Historically, the Osage have had the highest percentage of soldiers compared to other tribes. The most famous soldier of the museum is Major General Clarence Tinker, who was the first General killed in World War II. When money flowed like “Black Gold” from the earth, banking was big in Osage County, and there were banks in every little town... and bank robbers. The First National Bank in Pawhuska housed a trillion dollar adding machine, featured today at the Osage County Historical Museum. The Museum features stories of all kinds; teachers, preachers, law men, crooks, mothers, babies, cowboys, Indians and ballerinas. They even boast a very real cougar as the museum mascot. Come visit, where there is always a story waiting for you. Museum and Bookstore open Tuesday through Saturday. 10-4 PM.
Otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Osage. Built in 1910, this Catholic Church is ONE of a KIND. Featuring stained glass that depicts Osage people, still living at that time. This is some of the ONLY stained glass in the U.S. that depicts Native Americans, mostly donated by Osage families. During WWI this stained glass was being built and had to be buried until the end of the War, when it was installed in place in 1925. FREE to the Public.
Located West of Pawhuska on the East side of the spillway at Blue Stem Lake. Use caution as there are currently no dedicated trails or paths to
safely navigate your way to the falls. FREE.
Hidden away in the rugged Hills of Osage County, Woolaroc was the ranch retreat of oilman Frank Phillips. This unique gem of the Osage Hills was established in 1925 and is now a 3,700 acre Wildlife Preserve and World-Class Art Museum. Come and see why Will Rogers called it “the most unique place in this country”. Located just minutes away, East of Pawhuska on Highway 123. Paid Admission. woolaroc.org