Aug 082013
 




City officials are planning a big move for a historic bridge north of downtown Catoosa following a meeting earlier this week.

Most Catoosa residents are familiar with the Rice Street Bridge, which crosses Spunky Creek along historic Route 66. It’s that bridge that will soon be replaced by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation with a wider, newer bridge.

Tulsa’s Channel 8′s community newspaper partner, the Catoosa Times, reported that the Rice Street Bridge has now outlived its use at Spunky Creek. But despite it being 100-years-old, the city of Catoosa still plans to use that bridge elsewhere in the community.

City staffers, including City Planner Greg Collins, have suggested the city use the bridge as a pedestrian walkway along Cherokee Street, south of Pine Street. Collins suggested a refurbished bridge could be used as part of the Safe Routes to School grant project.

If that happens, the city will place the bridge along the east side of Cherokee, between Catoosa High School and Pine. Collins has said there are two ravines to cross and this bridge will cross one of them, according to the newspaper.

Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker said the county is helping in the effort to move the old bridge.

“It’s in poor shape,” Thacker said. “That’s one reason you’re not driving on it.”

Thacker went on to state that Rogers County will move pieces of the bridge to the city’s maintenance yard after ODOT dismantles it.

City Engineer Craig Kupec said the bridge will have to be reconditioned before placing it along Cherokee. That portion of the project will be “somewhat labor-intensive,” he said.

Another obstacle in this project is an existing water line that would need to be moved, according to the newspaper’s report. Kupec has been asked how much moving that water line would cost the city.

He estimated it would cost, on the high end, $42,000.

“It’s possible to excavate rather than bore,” Kupec said. “That, I feel, would be on the high side.”

Brian Kellogg, owner of Kellogg Engineering, said there is no way around moving the 8-inch water line and would need to be moved to accommodate the new bridge. He added that the line is “laying in the way of construction.”

“We have a plan that will suffice for your water line,” he told Catoosa officials.

The old roadway is about 20 feet wide, Kellogg said. The new roadway would be 12-foot lanes and 2-foot shoulders on both sides.

Thacker said the bottom line is the water line must be moved.

“If that line doesn’t’t get moved, that bridge is staying like it is.”

The city council had both of these items on its Aug. 5 agenda. Councilors approved salvaging the old bridge by a vote of 7-0. The second item addressed moving the water line, which councilors also approved 7-0.

 

Nov 122012
 




This is our third guest article on Route 66. This one focuses on the ‘winter’ of, or ON, Route 66!

Traveling down the historic Route 66 is a unique way to get your family together during the Christmas holiday. Gather the troops from across the country and reconnect on the old historic “Mother Road” that, at one time, was best passageway from the Midwest to the West.


Drive through the streets of a fabulous world of kitschy Americana, follow each other in a caravan of cars or pile in an RV (try to avoid motorcycles during winter — it can get cold!). Each little town you pass has a legend attached to it. You may find yourself touring an old school house, visiting a nostalgic ice cream shop and looking over your shoulder in one of the many ghost towns along the tour. With the wind in your hair and not a worry in the world, this will be the best Christmas EVER!

Step into a history rich with roadside attractions, neon signs, rusty gas stations, 50s diners and vintage motels. It’s all part of the experience, part of the adventure. What do you need to know and where do you go?

Driving Tips

  • Be sure you have appropriate car insurance (with roadside assistance) so you are 100 percent protected and carefree on your journey.
  • Don’t advertise you are away from home. When in a city with inhabitants, keep your maps out of plain sight when stopped and use the truck stops if in need of rest — they are generally the safest place to rest your eyes.

Great Idea No. 1

Before you go on this fabulous family vacation, make a playlist of Christmas songs and old country driving tunes (Willy Nelson would be a great choice). Burn it to a few disks and bam! Christmas gifts, done! You’ll be singing all the way from Amarillo to Tucumcari. Pair that with the EZ66 Guide for sale at Route 66 World Bookstore and Roadfood and you’ll be on your way to worry free holidays.

Great Idea No. 2

Roadfood. It’s a must-get book. Ever wanted to eat at little off the beaten path at classic regional restaurants but don’t know how to find them? This book was written by a couple who went on a country-wide trip, finding and rating the best unknowns. While the directions are good, a navigational device is extremely helpful.

Fun Places to Stop

Christmastime along the Route 66 is vibrant with life and lights. It’s quirkiness illuminates with decorations aglow.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge — Constructed in 1929, the bridge crosses the Mississippi from Alton, Ill. to St. Louis, Mo. and has a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge, according to nps.gov. Today, it has trails for walking and biking — fun for the whole family.
  • The Blue Whale — Sitting in Catoosa, Okla. is an 80-foot long smiling blue whale that Hugh Davis built for his whale-collecting wife, Zelta, as a gift. The attraction dates back to the 1970s.
  • Sandhills Curiosity Shop — Located in Erick, Okla., this wacky shop is full of music memorabilia. But it’s not just a shop, it’s an experience. Sit for awhile and have a chat with the owners, Harley and Annabelle Russell.
  • Restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Between Clinton and Amarillo, Texas, this is where gas is 19 cents a gallon. That was all the way back in 1927, according to ridingroute66.us.
  • Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas has a mythical land covered with 10 historic Cadillacs, noses stuck in the earth as they erect from the land. You are free to graffiti your presence on the pieces of art, says legendsofamerica.com. They are open to the public to decorate.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico – A pleasant reminder of the good old days. With historic motels like the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari, you can sleep under the pretty neon signs which light up the route through town.
  • Winslow, Ariz. — Simply, so you can stand on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. and live in the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”
  • The Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmas Polar Express — In Williams, Ariz., a charming little town sits along the Route 66. During Christmas, the railway turns into a magical Christmas train to the North Pole.
  • Santa Monica Pier — Route 66 ends with an amusement park, an old carousel and the lovely California coast.

Lastly, be sure to take special care of our Route 66. Help preserve historic landmarks along the 2,400 -mile stretch. What can you do? Clean up after yourself and others, drive slow and enjoy the sites and get into the nostalgia by helping the local businesses survive.

Article by Olivia Lewin

Aug 162012
 


Ron Edwards of the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK has announced a clean up day at the whale! It is open to all volunteers and it is always a good time – and folks love helping out the whale!! And there is a ‘Blue Tie Event’ as well as a party for the Blue Whale’s Birthday. MANY things going on at the whale!

From Ron Edwards:

Fins,

I have some news to share with you for some upcoming events!

On August 25th at 10 am, we will be doing a Blue Whale Clean Up Day! We welcome any able bodied Fin that is willing to volunteer for a day of clean up to prepare for the 2nd Annual Blue Tie Affair and my 40th Birthday Bash! Please bring a pair of work gloves, boots and any lawn and garden tools you can use to help us out!

On September 6th from 5 to 9pm will be the 2nd Annual Blue Tie Affair! For a donation of $50 per ticket, you will enjoy a steak dinner prepared by Molly’s Landing, live music and a few wineries will be there too! This year only 124 tickets are available and tickets have been on sale for a little over a week. If you would like to attend you can pay and pick up tickets at the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce at 650 South Cherokee, Catoosa, OK. Or you can email me and I will send you a PayPal Invoice that you can pay online. We will then send your tickets to you or you can request Will Call and pick them up the night of the event.

On September 7th, from 6 to 9pm, we will be Celebrating my 40th Birthday Bash with music by DJ Connections, Free Birthday Cake and Ice Cream while it lasts. Please drop by and celebrate with me and my other Fins and then get your groove on too!!

I look forward to seeing you all.

Love, Peace and Chicken grease!!

Blue Whale
P.O. Box 66
Catoosa, OK 74015
bluewhalek2croute66@gmail.com
Www.BlueWhaleRoute66.com

Feb 182012
 



CATOOSA, Oklahoma — A popular Route 66 roadside attraction has been the target of vandalism.

Vandals wrote what is believed to be their names on the cultural icon, which was built in 1972, and Catoosa police are investigating. Police are not releasing photos of the graffiti because they feel it will hinder the investigation.

It is unknown when the act occurred, but a member of the Catoosa Arts and Tourism Society/Fins of the Blue Whale took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to address the situation.

“I’m kinda sad….some vandals have defaced my new paint job. I don’t know why people feel the need to do that, I’m just so disappointed.”

The group later released a statement to News On 6.

“Although the vandalism done to me was not with paint, vulgar or costly, the bigger issue is the act of vandalism, not the content or application. Mistreatment to any property other than your own is disrespectful. I’m simply disappointed that this type of behavior is measured. It is not levels on a scale of 1 to 10, it is all bad form. I forgive the vandals, I just wish there was nothing to forgive them for,” the statement said.

The organization also said the recent vandalism isn’t a new thing. After Christmas, it had to remove the donation box because of frequent break-ins and damage.

“People have always written inside my snot pocket …We never say anything about it,” a spokesperson for the arts and tourism society said. “This is overt.”

The attraction was repainted just months ago

In September 2011, the whale received facelift due to a donation of time, money and man-power, courtesy of The Bill Haynes Company of Tulsa.

-Brandi Ball, NewsOn6.com

Jan 082012
 



Tulsa has never realized the full economic development and tourism potential from its 24 miles of historic Route 66.

So Councilor Blake Ewing is creating a task force to help the city embrace the opportunities that come from its place along the Mother Road.

“There’s Route 66 travel maps that bypass Tulsa,” he said with frustration. “Motorists hop on Interstate 44 at Catoosa to cut through the city and then reconnect with Route 66 from there.”

Many leaders have championed Arkansas River development in recent years, with Route 66 (tracking along on 11th Street) falling by the wayside, Ewing said.

“I’m not trying to usurp river momentum,” he said. “I’m excited about that, too. But to me, this is lower-hanging fruit. It’s here and it’s underutilized. We don’t have to put water in it to be successful.”

Creating a scene: The idea behind the task force, which would include Route 66 stakeholders, such as University of Tulsa, Hillcrest Medical Center, Bama Pie officials and neighborhood leaders, as well as city officials, is to look for ways to reinvigorate the pathway.

Some ideas include creating tax increment financing districts along Route 66 to help spur development, with the taxes generated being invested in improvements, and looking for federal Brownfield grants to clean up some of the vacant, dilapidated structures, Ewing said.

The councilor also envisions a fund being established for the city or the Tulsa Development Authority to purchase neglected properties and turn them into meeting locations for car clubs until they can be resold for commercial purposes.

Ewing said he also would like to encourage businesses along Route 66 to upgrade their signs to sleek neon versions to create a vibe.

This could be done by possibly creating a grant program to help business owners pay for the difference between a regular backlit sign and a neon version. Sign ordinance changes likely would be needed.

“Businesses will respond to these kinds of gestures,” he said. “When you add it all together, you create a scene that people want to be a part of.”

Vision 2025 investment: Route 66 hasn’t been completely ignored. In Tulsa County’s 2003 Vision 2025 package, $15 million was set aside for various improvements tied to a Route 66 master plan.

Completed so far are renovations to the Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge – the former 11th Street Bridge – and the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza and skywalk, at the east end of the bridge.

Avery was the former Tulsa County commissioner who is known as the father of the Mother Road because he lobbied Congress in 1926 to make it a 2,450-mile national highway that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Some streetscaping projects along the route also have been finished.

Still to come is the Route 66 Interpretive Center at the plaza by Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.

The museum has $2 million from Vision 2025 and $5 million from the 2006 third-penny sales tax package tied to it but is expected to need more in private funding. A feasibility study is under way, city planner Dennis Whitaker said.

A streetscaping project on 11th Street between 89th East Avenue to Garnett Road will soon begin.

It will include a kiosk at the intersection of 11th Street and Mingo Road that will tell the story of motor courts and how they evolved, along with other facets of Route 66 history, and wayfinding signs directing traffic.

Also this year, two Route 66 gateways will be built – one on the east side and one on the west side of Tulsa’s stretch – and a larger-than-life bronze sculpture will be installed at the plaza.

The sculpture, titled “East Meets West,” will depict the Avery family riding in a Model-T as they encounter a horse-drawn carriage on its way from the west Tulsa oil fields.

Whitaker, who will be part of the new task force, said that having public and private partners at the table will help take the master plan to the next level.

For all of Tulsa: The revitalization of Route 66 would not only benefit the five council districts it passes through, Ewing said, but also it would benefit the entire city by being an economic development and tourism engine.

Ewing owns numerous businesses in downtown’s Blue Dome District, including Joe Momma’s Pizza, Back Alley Blues & BBQ, Boomtown Tees and The Max Retropub.

His closest endeavor to Route 66 is The Phoenix Cafe, a coffee shop and used bookstore that will open at Sixth Street and Peoria Avenue soon.

Ewing said he would be considering his own Route 66 business investment if not for his role as a councilor in the task force.

“I don’t want my pursuing a personal development to compromise what I see as a much bigger thing for Tulsa,” he said. “But I see the potential, and I know other developers will, too.”

Author and historian Michael Wallis took Tulsa to task in his 1990 book “Route 66: The Mother Road” for not capitalizing on its Route 66 heritage.

“Tulsa gets much higher marks now,” he said. “There have been little victories here and there.”

But Ewing’s task force is exactly what’s needed to see the effort through.

“I’m usually dubious about politicians, but he’s standing behind his words and I’m excited,” Wallis said.

The lure of traveling Route 66 by car is powerful to domestic and foreign tourists and continues to grow, he said.

“A lot of people falsely think it’s about pure nostalgia,” he said.

But it’s much more than poodle skirts, cheeseburgers, James Dean and ’57 Chevys. Those are just a small slice of the pie.

“This is the classic American road trip, from the land of Lincoln to Hollywood. They get all the variance of terrain, culture, cuisine and music. Tulsa needs to stake its claim as part of that.”

By BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer

Jan 052011
 

CATOOSA, Okla. (AP) – The city of Catoosa is hoping to learn soon whether it will receive a $600,000 grant that would help in the restoration of the Blue Whale.

The whale is an icon along the former U.S. Highway 66 and the city wants to buy it, expand the parking lot around it, install decorative signage and build a trail from a nearby grocery store.

The city turned in its final application for the Transportation Enhancement Grant on Thursday. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation accepted the city’s initial grant application this past fall.

Mayor Rita Lamkin tells the Claremore Progress that the time is right for Catoosa to start the Blue Whale preservation project, which she says would cost about $720,000.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.