We left a little earlier, before 9 a.m. traveling along Interstate 40 all the way, except for going around Oklahoma City.
We are now in Cherokee and Potawatomi Nation territory. There were several Indian Casinos along the way. We crossed Lake Eufaula, part of the Canadian River which is the longest tributary of the Arkansas River. It is about 906 miles long, starting in Colorado and traveling through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and Oklahoma.
We passed a sign marking “America’s Corner” where the major interstates I-35, I-44 and I-40 – meet in the center, pinpointing the heart of the state; and we also crossed the Chisolm Trail.
The last hour and a half was windy, so made for a tiring drive for Larry. We arrived at Tinsley's RV Park about 1:30 to find no caretaker, just a drop box for your money.
We went to lunch at a local diner, The Mark Restaurant, that was filled with old historical photos of the city. After lunch, Larry shower & rested from his stressful drive. I called the closest Elks in El Reno to see if they were open and we went there for a pin. We got to meet the ER & his wife and they excitedly told us the history of their lodge.
The Rock Island Elks was established in 1902 and later they bought this historical building. It was built as an exhibit building for the Oklahoma Territory for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. When the building was completed, was instrumental in getting the material from Oklahoma Territory for the building and getting the gypsum company to donate it. This was the first time that Oklahoma gypsum was called to the attention of the outside world. The builder said, “There was no coal in Oklahoma Territory, no lead nor zinc. About all that we had at that time was an abundance of red dirt, some gypsum, salt, and building stone. I was determined, however, to make the best showing possible of the things we had.”
It was designed to be disassembled and reassembled back in El Reno. After the fair, the Oklahoma Territory building was cut into sections and loaded onto a Rock Island Train bound for El Reno. Rock Island Elks officials lobbied for the building to be reassembled in El Reno, their hometown and it was opened in 1905.
The building’s 2nd floor obtained a balcony, which was later sealed because of pigeon problems. The basement and stage area was added later. They are currently refurbishing the ballroom for rentals. It is a beautiful room and will be glorious when finished. In the lounge, there is a whimsical painting of the building painted in 1940. When you come close to look at it, you are amused to find there are naked people cavorting all over the painting.
Here is an explanation of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.