Bartlesville

Overview

Introduction

Bartlesville is the site of the first commercial oil well in Oklahoma, as well as the restored 26-room mansion of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum. Also in the town is Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower, a cantilevered 19-story building that Wright described as "the tree that escaped the crowded forest." Price Tower, built in 1956, was Wright's pioneering experiment in multiuse structures. After being used mostly as office space in recent years, the tower has re-emerged as a multipurpose building, and visitors now have a chance to fully experience Wright design. The Inn at Price Tower has 21 rooms decorated in Wright's style; the tower's Arts Center hosts exhibits of American artists. The restaurant, the Cooper, is a popular dining spot with good views of the sunset.

While you're in the area, visit Woolaroc Ranch and Museum, Phillips' hunting lodge (the name came from WOOds-LAkes-ROCks) and 3,500-acre/1,400-hectare wildlife refuge, which is 15 mi/25 km southwest of town. The property is home to a variety of wild animals, including a bison herd. The museum contains exhibits about the development of the Southwest, a large gun collection, and works by Charles M. Russell and many Native American artists. A Biplane Expo is held in Bartlesville in late May and early June.

Pawhuska, 20 mi/32 km west of Bartlesville, is the capital of the Osage Nation, which grew wealthy when oil was found on their lands in the 1920s. The town has a historic district with buildings from the late 1800s, and there are two museums: The Osage County Historical Society Museum and the excellent Osage Tribal Museum. Our favorite attraction, however, is the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which lies north of Pawhuska. This 36,000-acre-/14,580-hectare tract preserves the grasslands ecosystem that once dominated the area. A drive through the preserve (on gravel roads) allows visitors to glimpse the plant and animal species native to the prairie, including bison and wild turkeys. The International Roundup Clubs Cavalcade, an amateur rodeo, takes place in Pawhuska in July. Bartlesville is 125 mi/200 km northeast of Oklahoma City.

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