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Reinventing Relevance

From its well-maintained train depot to the charming farmers market during the summer, Bristow has a spark of vitality that refuses to die out.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Rob Harmon
Posted
January 28, 2020

There’s honestly something special about visiting small-town Oklahoma that gets our imaginations going and makes our sense of adventure and nostalgia come alive. Perhaps it’s the frozen-in-time main streets with their 100-year-old buildings, antique shops, and locally-run and owned breakfast spots. Maybe it’s the one-of-a-kind museums, festivals, and other attractions that ooze with hometown pride and tradition that make a visit to a small town special.

Bristow has all these and more — from its well-maintained train depot to the charming farmers market during the summertime. The town got its start in 1898, and like a lot of small towns in that era, it was built to accommodate a train stop between Sapulpa and Oklahoma City on a track run by the St. Louis – San Francisco (“Frisco”) Railway. That depot is still in existence, beautifully maintained, and it’s a powerful draw to visitors, but it’s not the only reason people visit this charming little town.

To put it simply, Bristow has a spark of vitality that refuses to die out. Unlike many small towns around the nation that have shrunk practically out of existence, Bristow refuses to become irrelevant. With the old Route 66 running straight through its heart, Bristow is a town full of people who love where they live and don’t mind sharing it with visitors who come interested to learn about its history. And surrounding towns like Stroud and Drumright offer a few spots worth visiting too, making the area well worth a day trip.

Unique OK
314 N. 5th Ave. | Stroud

Stroud, which is a short drive from Bristow, is a quaint town with friendly people and interesting Main Street architecture. On North Fifth Avenue, you will find a charming house with a fenced-in yard attached to it, that has been converted into a retail property.

Although the shop looks small, Unique OK has a lot to offer in Oklahoma souvenirs, pottery, candles, locally-made gourmet coffee, and so much more. For Mother’s Day, baskets with floral designs inside make a pretty and thoughtful gift. Wind chimes, wood signs, custom cornhole game sets with matching OSU or OU bags, or whatever you request are available for order.

Tidewater Winery
54560 W. Hwy. 16, E0727 Road | Drumright

At Tidewater Winery, you can experience some pretty fantastic wines inside a surprisingly historic building, in a place you wouldn’t expect. The winery and event building, located in Drumright, was originally built by John D. Rockefeller (yes, really) as a school for the children of employees of the Tidewater Oil Company (Tydol). Constructed about 100 years ago, it is so well preserved that it is on the National Register of Historic Places. Plan this as one of your stops as you tour Oklahoma wineries, or go to visit one of the country’s oldest, most well-preserved buildings. Either way, Tidewater Winery provides a lesson in history and a greater appreciation of Oklahoma wine.

If you’re on the lookout for a unique, romantic location to host a wedding or some other special event, their 8,000-square-foot historic venue right next to the winery’s beautiful vineyard makes the perfect spot to host such a memorable event.

Bristow Train Depot and Museum
1 Burlington Northern Railroad | Bristow

A visit to the Bristow Train Depot and Museum is like traveling back to the 1890s, when Bristow was formed near a railroad track between the burgeoning cities of Sapulpa and Oklahoma City. Continually being restored, the historic depot and nearby town square give a sense of stepping back in time. Inside the museum, walk on the original 1923 wood floors, see the old ticket counters, and check out the antique desks and equipment used by the depot masters. Outside, climb aboard the Frisco caboose and get a feel for what it was like when the train was the only way to travel long distances across the country.

Spend time with any of the volunteer docents inside the museum, and you’ll get a history lesson about Bristow you won’t soon forget. You’ll hear about famous people with ties to Bristow, like world-famous Gene Autry, who, at a young age, served as a telegrapher in this exact building, when it was formerly known as the Frisco Train Depot.

Little Orange Barn

36918 W. 231st St. S. | Bristow

Just across from the Bristow Veterans of Foreign Wars is a beautiful, landscaped property with a sign at the driveway that says, “The Little Orange Barn.” Unless you knew what it was, you might assume it was someone’s weekend retreat home in the country. With a nicely graveled circle drive and an inviting front porch, it’s hard not to welcome yourself to a visit.

Enter through one of the gorgeous double doors at the front of the building, and inside you’ll see a shop full of woodwork furniture, collectibles, and knickknacks either made by the owners or curated for your browsing and buying pleasure. Snatch up a vinrella, a cool, fashionable umbrella that is shaped like a bottle of wine until you open it up for use when it rains. It’s an umbrella in a bottle. And it’s adorable.

On any given Friday night, live bands perform. At the same time, visitors enjoy a coffee and some of the latest apple pie fudge, cinnamon roll, or special candy the owners have made available for purchase.

Creek Nation Casino
121 W. Lincoln Ave. | Bristow

Established in 2008, the Creek Nation Casino in Bristow is a convenient 30-minute drive southwest of Tulsa. Just a mile south of the I-44 Turner Turnpike, through downtown Bristow, is the perfect spot for a wide variety of games for entertainment. The casino is a plush environment for getting your kicks, with exceptional customer service and good food.

Open daily from 8 a.m.-6 a.m., guests 18 and over can enjoy themselves from sun up to sun down and beyond. More than 225 electronic games are yours for the playing. Everything from classic favorite electronic slots to the latest games on the casino scene are available. If you’re ready to win big or unwind with a little weekend gambling, this is a great option. Enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the cafe, and you’ll be ready to get back to the casino.


VFW Post 3656 Wake Island Memorial

American Legion | 131 W. 8th St. | Bristow

The Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Wake Island Memorial in Bristow is just at the edge of the west side of town and commemorates the 1941 Battle of Wake Island, which occurred on a small island west of Hawaii. This cherished landmark was established by the city of Bristow in the late 1960s to honor those American Veterans who fought for and served our country and the free world. In addition to being informative and educational about our soldiers’ historical contributions, Wake Island Memorial also serves veterans by providing meeting rooms and different ways to honor those who have bravely served. A commemorative tank and cannon, as well as other war memorabilia, serve as a reminder that our people in the armed forces have risked their lives for us and millions around the globe.