To encourage our readers to visit this year’s winners of our Top 10 True Western Towns award announced in Jan/Feb, each issue will showcase the local flavor at one of these towns.
The starting place for the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889, Guthrie still has cobblestone streets and a downtown district full of 18th-early 19th-century buildings (see Victor Inn, below). And we mean full. As the largest historic district in the nation, Guthrie boasts 2,169 buildings in 400 city blocks. Downtown is the perfect place to envision Guthrie in its territorial days, when it still had the honor of being the capital city.
Best Cowboy Bar: Thanks to the firefighters who, this past June, saved the building that houses the Blue Belle Saloon (224 W. Harrison Ave.), where silent screen actor Tom Mix once worked as a bartender, this place is still around for readers to visit. An electrical fire caused $200,000 worth of damage to the upstairs, home to Miss Lizzie’s Bordello (an antique shop, today). Hopefully, the shop will reopen soon.
What historic site do most of the schoolchildren visit?: The Oklahoma Sports Museum (315 W. Oklahoma Ave.) and the Oklahoma Territorial Museum (406 E. Oklahoma Ave., see statue, above, on the steps of the Carnegie Library, symbolizing the “wedding” of Indian and Oklahoma Territories).
Who knows Guthrie’s history best?: Sharen Bowers, from the research department at the territorial museum.
Best Attraction: The trolley tour through historic downtown Guthrie.
Best Route to Historic Downtown: From I-35, you can take Exit 153, which brings you directly into the downtown area, while Exit 157 brings you in a block north of the area.
Best Western Art Gallery: For Old West collectibles, Brightside Trading Company (208 W. Harrison Ave.); for fine art, J.B. Beadles Fine Art (210 W. Oklahoma Ave).
Where do the locals eat?: Katie’s Diner (124 W. Cleveland), Cowboy Cafe (223 S. Division St.) and Granny Had One (113 W. Harrison Ave.).
What’s the most popular local event?: A Territorial Christmas (December) brings in the most people for a month-long festival; the International Bluegrass Festival (October) brings in the most for a weekend festival.
Average Housing Cost: $89,000-$100,000.
Best Place to Buy Land: For great ranch property, look along Highway 105, east of Guthrie, or Highway 33, west of Guthrie, for good roads and wide open spaces.
Average Temperature: Mid-30s to 50s in the winter; 70s to 80s in the summer.
Status of Oklahoma Territorial Railroad: The excursion train between Guthrie and Crescent should be operational by July 2007; the shortline freight line between Guthrie and Enid should be open by the end of 2007. The depot (above) is open for visitors.
What are the plans for the Centennial kickoff celebration in Guthrie?: On November 18, Guthrie will celebrate with a parade, Statehood Day exhibit at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Sports Heritage and Indian exhibit at the Oklahoma Sports Museum. The celebration continues throughout 2007.