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By Austin Tackett
It’s difficult to find a town anywhere that has as much packed into it as Ponca City. Located off of the beautifully scenic Highway 60 in the north central part of the state, Ponca City is a destination full of history, art, and excitement.
The story of Ponca City is deeply rooted in the petroleum industry. It was here that the Marland Oil Company was founded and because of this, the city is home to a wealth of oil history landmarks. Visitors may want to start their trek through Ponca’s oil history with a trip to the Conoco Museum. This impressive collection of all things Conoco gives folks an up close look at how petroleum is produced, as well as how it’s applied in our daily lives - and does so with the finest of design and finesse. Even if fossil fuels aren’t your passion, the Conoco Museum is worth a look if only for how gorgeous the museum looks inside.
Continuing on the oil theme, make sure to check out the Marland Mansion. Modeled after the Davanzati Palace in Florence, The Marland Mansion was E.W. Marland’s dream home built precisely to his specifications in 1925. Known as the “Palace on the Prairie” this architectural marvel contains 48,000 square feet spread out over four floors. The incredible grandeur of this building can often times be overwhelming, and has to be seen to be believed. Filled with fine furniture, beautiful art, and one heck of an interesting story, the Marland Mansion should be near the top of any Oklahoman’s “must see” list.
Anyone stopping through Ponca City should take time to visit the Standing Bear Park. One of the state’s greatest treasures, Standing Bear Park pays tribute to all Native Americans and Native American culture with a 22 foot statue of Chief Standing Bear, a Ponca tribesman who fought for Native American rights. The statue is marvelous, but visitors should certainly save a little time to visit the Museum and Education Center which is also located on the 63 acre park. It is here where one truly gets gains more context and understanding about Chief Standing Bear and the value he fought so hard for.
Not far from Standing Bear Park you’ll find the Pioneer Woman Statue and Museum. Sculpted in 1929, the seventeen foot tall Pioneer Woman Statue was commissioned by E. W. Marland as a means of celebrating the hardships and triumphs of settler women who forged the frontier. The statue still stands proudly beside the Pioneer Woman Museum which houses exhibits of furniture, equipment, clothing, and other memorabilia from the pioneer era. The statue and museum are a great way for any history buff to spend an afternoon.
This only scratches the surface of the all the great things to do and see in Ponca City. There’s a bevy of great food and unique restaurants, more historical sites, and great scenery, culture, and shopping. You may not get to visit everything all in one trip, but that’s ok, Ponca City is most certainly worth coming back to time and time again.
We’ll be keeping the great road trip ideas coming next month, but if you have any travel tips that you’d like to share with us or any other feed back write us at Roadtrips@travelok.com. For more information on how to plan your next road trip adventure, make sure to check out the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s website, www.travelok.com or by calling the Oklahoma Travel Experts at 1-800-652-6552.