We decided that we were going to do more with our time than play computer games. So we agreed that we needed to explore Oklahoma. We haven't been going out a lot because the weather has been very hot lately.
Today, I told myself, come hell or high water, we were going to do something worthwhile. We set out at 12:30PM, a little late in the day to be going out exploring places, considering it was almost 100F outside. Nevertheless, we began our 1 hour drive to the very first capital of Oklahoma.
|Guthrie welcome sign|
When I took left exit on US Highway 77, I felt like I was entering one of those completely dead towns, where life goes by at snails pace. There was hardly any traffic, streets were almost empty, which was a good sign because parking wouldn't be a problem.
We made our way to West Harrison Avenue, to the State Capital Publishing Museum. As we drove, we found exactly why people find Guthrie so charming. The architecture is old, and resembles the towns seen in so many Western movies. I don't know much about architecture, and I cannot really tell the difference between Victorian and Roman; what I was looking at though was very distinctive. If there weren't any cars around, it felt like a town from the 1800s.
The museum is really huge, I was impressed when I first saw it. However, I was very disappointed to know that the top two floors are not for the public. I was told by curator that the fire marshal decided that there was a safety hazard, and in case of any fire, there is no proper fire escape. As a result, I couldn't really see much, except what was visible from the first floor.
State Capital Publishing Museum
Don't go to the museum with high expectations. A lot of work was done preserving everything just the way they were in 1902, but there are only two rooms to see - the exhibits in the first floor, and the documents room in the basement. Both are quite interesting. The admission is $4, cash only, good thing I had some cash, I usually never carry more than $5. I had a feeling I was going to need it, and I was right.
|State Capital Publishing Museum|
We first went into the basement where the Press Room was located. It was a really strange feeling going down the wooden staircase, which felt like it was going to collapse any moment. The entire room is filled with antique printing equipment. There is a television set, and a fan on the landing of the staircase. The curator would turn the fan and TV on, and start a documentary, which tells the beginnings of this town and the publishing company. The documentary mentioned how the workers never got any vacation or medical insurance, and there was no protection from moving parts. One of the workers got injured while operating the machinery and his leg had to be subsequently amputated. He was given a day's pay and discharged and someone else was hired in his place the next day.
This is definitely not the America we know today.
Once we were done watching the documentary, we went to the first floor to see the exhibits. Those were very interesting. They offer a rare glimpse into the life of the people back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One particular exhibit caught my attention. It is an application for a teacher's position. The information requested on the application form is very interesting. Apart from qualifications, the applicant is asked to fill in Complexion, Hair, Height, Weight, and Church preference. I would imagine these questions could get an employer into trouble these days. This must have been common back in the day.
|Application form for teachers|
Click on the link below to see more pictures of the interior of the museum.
State Capital Publishing Museum Interior
I also bought a copy of the documentary of The State Capital Publishing Museum for $10. I was determined to be a tourist. For the benefit of my readers, I uploaded the video on YouTube. It should be noted that this is not the same documentary that is shown in the Press Room at the museum.
State Capital Publishing Museum Documentary Part 1
State Capital Publishing Museum Documentary Part 2
Once we are done exploring the museum, we ventured out into the hot sun. We decided it was too hot for us to be walking the streets, and as luck would have it, there was a trolley tour cart waiting right by the museum. We decided to take the guided tour instead. It costs $3 per person, and this one, I enjoyed more than the museum.
The interior of the trolley was very comfortable and its an hour long tour through the city. There is an audio commentary while the tour is in progress. Definitely worth the money.
The architecture of the city is very distinctive. The old railway station, the Santa Fe Depot, reminds of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In spite of the hot weather, it was definitely worth going there.
|Abandoned building in Guthrie, OK|
There is a lot of history to this city, from the humble beginning to becoming the capital of the state, and then being voted off the people, and finally being recognized as a national historic landmark. Those living in Oklahoma should visit Guthrie, preferably in the spring.
Click the link below for more picture of Guthrie