This former ranch, set in northeastern Oklahoma’s rolling Osage Hills, was built in 1925 by Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum, as his weekend and holiday sanctuary. The rustic grounds have an assortment of fauna, including buffalo, elk, zebra, water buffalo, deer, elk, Longhorn cattle, and more. Just so visitors won’t be confused about the source of funding for Woolaroc, one of Phillips iconic cottage-style gas stations is located on the entrance road.
The property’s historic lodge home is now the Woolaroc Museum, which has one of the finest collections of Southwest art in the world. The galleries feature paintings and sculptures by many legendary Indian and Western artists in American history: Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, William R. Leigh, Thomas Moran, Frank Tenney Johnson, and others. Frank Phillips acquired much of the collection during his lifetime, especially pieces produced by the more classical artists. In later years the collection has been enhanced by donations from Phillips family members.
But it’s one particular piece of Native American art that made the Woolaroc Museum my chosen terminus. Robert Lindneux was an American Western artist who captured many important transformations in history. The evocative image of suffering endured by the Cherokee people during their forced removal was brilliantly captured in Lindneux’s 1942 painting Trail of Tears. Studying Oklahoma history as a youngster in the former Indian Territory, I often saw this haunting image displayed in textbooks and other materials. And now I’m standing before the actual painting. It’s magnificent! Find it at 1925 Woolaroc Ranch Rd, Bartlesville, OK, (918) 336-0307.