Will Rogers Memorial Museum
1720 West Will Rogers Blvd.
PO Box 157
Claremore, OK 74017
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Laughter and home spun humor lift visitors' spirits and echo the unique life and legacy of a frontier cowboy at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Dog Iron Ranch northeast of Tulsa.
In historic Claremore, eight galleries in a regal museum are alive with videos, audio, theaters, art and artifacts. "Will Rogers Memorial Museum features a 2,400 sq. ft. library, 18,000 photographs and thousands of origingal manuscripts, private letters, contracts and personal papers".
The captivating, interactive exhibits vividly define the wit, wisdom, and talents that transformed cowboy-humorist Will Rogers into an American original. Two hours or a day can pass quickly in the memorable setting.
Two miles northeast of Oologah, an 1870s log-walled house defies time on a 400-acre living history Dog Iron Ranch where Will Rogers was born into a pioneer Cherokee family before Oklahoma became a state. Farm animals and Longhorn cattle roam the bucolic hillside with its sweeping view of Lake Oologah.
On the family ranch that once spread for miles without fences, Will Rogers learned trick roping and wholesome cowboy values that launched a career and built an incredible life.
The story is spelled out dramatically in the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, built of native limestone in 1938 atop a hill with a sweeping view of the tranquil Tiawah Valley and Will's adopted hometown, Claremore.
The museum has plenty to see, including:
- Rare saddles and tack
- Priceless sculptures
- Twenty audio-visual settings
- Hands-on children's area
A gift shop features scores of:
- Souvenir treasures
Will Rogers, 1879-1935, was best known for his witty observations and lasting quotes.
'I never met a man I didn't like' was his message of brotherhood that demonstrated the fact that he always gave all people a first chance. 'I'd lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it' bespoke his honesty. 'Once a man holds public office, he is absolutely no good for honest work,' he chided politicians, although he was a friend of seven presidents.
One year he addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions then winked and said: 'I don't belong to any organized political faith, I'm a Democrat.' Will Rogers cracked jokes for a decade in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. In 500 newspapers, he wrote 4,000 syndicated columns and was author of six books spicing common sense with humor. Fifty silent movies featured Will Rogers. When sound was added to film, he led the box office, starring in 21 of Twentieth Century-Fox's greatest hits. Never stage-struck, he said 'I hold only two distinctions in the movie business: ugliest fellow in 'em and I still have the same wife I started out with.'
When the Great Depression of the 1930s strangled humanity, Will Rogers harnessed the new media of radio and cheered humankind with hope, wit, and a positive view. 'Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead,' he taught. 'If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned.'
An early champion of aviation and a traveler who circumnavigated the globe three times, Will Rogers joined Oklahoma aviator Wiley Post on a trip to Alaska in 1935. The single-engine plane crashed near the northernmost point of North America. Both men died instantly; their deaths were mourned worldwide.
The family tomb sits in a sunken garden on the 20-acre grounds at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, but the joys and laughter of Will Rogers' 55 years on earth dominate the museum and the frontier ranch.
Vast parking, RV hook-ups, and picnic areas abound.
Hours: 10am - 5pm (363 days a year - closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Admission: Adults - $7; Seniors - $5; 17 and younger - Free.