Oklahoma Route 66

Catoosa and the
Blue Whale

Oklahoma Route 66



Just east of the Blue Whale between Claremore and Catoosa you will find two huge steel truss bridges that cross the Verdigris River. This is a four lane section of old Route 66. It is unusual to find two Route 66 bridges side by side like this. The original bridge was built in 1936. In 1957 another bridge (right bridge in picture) was built to alleviate some of the traffic on the earlier bridge. Just beyond the bridges you will find Catoosa's famous Blue Whale.

Historic Twin Bridges on Route 66 at Catoosa




Catoosa's Famous Blue Whale

The Blue Whale

The Blue Whale has become one of the most recognizable attractions on old Route 66 in Oklahoma. Hugh Davis built it in the early 1970s as an anniversary gift to his wife Zelta. The Blue Whale and its pond became a favorite stop and swimming hole for both locals and travelers alike. Hugh was an entrepreneur in the grand old tradition of those roadside attraction proprietors of old. Over the years his park became a destination in itself.

His property not only included this fanciful blue whale, but picnic tables, concessions, a couple of boats and a wonderful zoo housed in a wooden ark. The zoo was once a favorite field trip for the local school kids. Blaine Davis, Hugh's son, recalls giving tours of the zoo when he was only six years old!    The Blue Whale, pond and zoo were closed in the late 1980s and soon fell into disrepair. A decade after the Blue Whale was closed citizens of Catoosa along with Hampton Inn employees cleaned up the grounds and gave the whale a fresh coat of paint. Today the Blue Whale lives again as an attraction worth seeing. The remains of the ark (below right picture) and zoo can be seen returning to nature nearby. There are no plans to restore them at this time and soon may be just a memory.

Catoosa Blue Whale

Arrowood Trading Post

Hugh Davis’ brother-in-law, Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt, once ran the Arrowood Trading Post across the street from the Blue Whale.

Catoosa Ark

Blue Whale Self Portrait  

I couldn't help posing in front of this wonder of Route 66. Though the day was cloudy and misty, I could almost see images of a time when this area was alive with the laughter and delight of those long ago hot summer days.

Catoosa, Oklahoma is a port town! It is known as the furthest inland, ice-free year-round seaport in the United States. Catoosa is linked to the Gulf of Mexico via the Arkansas and Mississippi River. Back in the old days though it was a wild place. Those were the days of the great cattle drives, and Catoosa was the place to blow off steam and spend some money by the cowboys who had just gotten paid. It was named for nearby Catoosa Hill and was derived from a Cherokee word meaning "on the hill."

Catoosa Tower

Catoosa Sign

Catoosa was the scene of a nasty tornado that ripped through the area back in 1993. It did a lot of damage to the area around the old alignment of Route 66. With a testament to the resiliency of Oklahomans, residents of Catoosa started rebuilding immediately. If you drive down the old alignment of Route 66 in Catoosa you can still find relics from the golden years of Route 66 remaining. This old drive-in is a throwback to those days. Though it was closed when I came through, maybe it will survive yet. Supporting Route 66 businesses is a form of historic preservation in my book.

Lil' Abner Dairyette


Photographs Taken May, June 2003

Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in Oklahoma

Go West on Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above, from the western state border to the eastern state border. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

Go East on Route 66

To Tulsa Town

To Vinita


Select the Route 66 State to Visit



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