Nestled off Main Street in Owasso, Oklahoma is the Owasso Historical Museum. Many residents pass by it daily, yet are surprised to know that the city has a museum, let alone the fact that the museum has been there since the later part of 1991. On the outside of the museum is a breathtaking mural that covers the entire side of the building. It displays what Owasso used to look like showing Whitney Lumber, Ballard Livery and Feed, the hotel, and the Millinery Shop. Seeing the mural is most definitely a sneak peek into what the museum’s guests will have the pleasure of seeing while spending time looking into Owasso’s past.
Upon walking in, their mission statement is proudly displayed in the front room: “To collect, preserve, and exhibit, objects and materials relating to the history of the city of Owasso and surrounding area, and to provide related educational services for the purpose of increasing and enriching public knowledge of the history and heritage of the area.” Each guest is greeted by friendly faces willing to lend their assistance or answer any question one might have. The Museum Coordinator, Marilyn Hinkle, personally walked me through it, telling me little side stories and how her own great grandmother’s picture is hanging on one of the walls within the museum. As she walks through the subtle, yet cozy rooms, Marilyn talks about how the building was initially a grocery store that opened up in 1928. The store ran until 1957, cared for by the same family.
Some of the must see items housed inside include beautiful artwork, old war memorabilia and uniforms, and an original butcher block that was once in use. One of the most interesting, and unexpected, items that the museum houses is the large cloth loom made in the 1860’s. This piece was made by hand and was held together by pegs so that it could be easily dismantled and moved. It was passed down through the Sides family and was used for many decades. Its intricate pieces and layers of cloth give the visitor a taste of just how hard one had to work in order to create a beautiful rug, or even create a family’s everyday clothing. The fact that it is still standing today shows how well made it was and that the Sides family truly valued it enough to maintain it for generations to come.
Another bit of information that the museum holds is the entire reason Owasso holds its name. In the late 1800’s, the Kansas, Oklahoma Central & Southwestern Railway Company damned a spring to form a lake in order to supply water for the rail line that was being run from Bartlesville. A depot was then built a mile south of the lake, creating an area that seemed desirable for people to live and carry on their lives within Indian Territory. Although there were already some residents in the vicinity, the area began to flourish for businesses and continued to draw people in. The town later adopted its name in order to identify the area it occupied. The rail line ended in a turnaround near the depot, so it was only fitting that it be named for exactly what it was. Owasso, an Osage Indian word, was given to the town seeing that it meant “the end” or “turn around.” The ties between Owasso and the rail line weren’t entirely clear for me until recent years!
The Owasso Historical Museum is a charming spot and the people behind it try their absolute best to emphasize their artifacts and it shows. I have called Owasso home since I was a child, yet was still amazed by the new information that I was able to receive from the museum. The things that I learned from digging into Owasso’s past are truly a treat, and I recommend to anyone living in the area. Not only will I continue to go back to talk with the volunteers, I look forward to whatever the museum might do next!
Owasso Historical Museum’s website: https://www.cityofowasso.com/283/Historical-Museum
The Cloth Loom that was made in the 1860’s used to make clothes and rugs.
The original butcher block used in a grocery store from 1928-1957.
The mural displayed on the building showing Owasso’s past.
A display showing the importance of the rail line to the City of Owasso.