Follow the Washington Irving Trail and discover the history behind some of Oklahoma's most dramatic events!
You will be pleasantly surprised when you discover one of Oklahoma's best-kept secrets -- an off-the-beaten-path museum filled with exhibits about Oklahoma's fascinating past. You'll learn about early-day explorers, lawmen and outlaws, a Civil War battle, and the beginnings of country music. The Gerald Johnson wing includes an extensive collection of early Southwest Indian artifacts.
The Legacy of Washington Irving
Washington Irving, author of "Rip van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," was America's first internationally acclaimed writer. In 1832, he accompanied Captain Jesse Bean and his U.S. Rangers on an adventurous trip through what is now central Oklahoma. He described this journey in A Tour on the Prairies, and his colorful account of Oklahoma before settlement provides a vivid description of the landscape before it was changed by encroaching civilization.
The site of the encampment of October 20, 1832, is at the location of The Washington Irving Trail Museum.
TThe Gunfight at Ingalls
On September 1, 1893, one of the deadliest gun battles in the history of the West took place at Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory, four miles northeast of the museum.
Three U.S. marshals and two bystanders were slain during the battle. The gunfight marked the beginning of the end for the Doolin-Dalton gang, with all of the gang members eventually captured or killed. The story of the infamous shoot-out has been the subject of songs, books, and movies over the years.
TThe First Western Band: Billy McGinty, Otto Gray, and the Oklahoma Cowboys
Commercial country and western band music began in Ripley, Oklahoma, just six miles southeast of The Washington Irving Trail Museum. Billy McGinty was the first sponsor of the band, but it was Otto Gray who took the cowboy musicians on the road for more than a decade, making records, films and attracting large audiences across the country.
The museum is located on the farm homesteaded by Otto Gray's family and contains photographs, recordings, and other memorabilia related to Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys, including his wife, "Mommie," who was one of the first female country singers on stage and over the radio.
TBilly McGinty: Legendary Cowboy
Billy McGinty was a genuine Oklahoma cowboy with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. He joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and was later named America's bronc-riding champion.
His family lived near Ingalls, and his father-in-law, Dr. Jacob Pickering, wrote an eyewitness account of the gun battle between the Doolin-Dalton gang and U.S. marshals. Billy McGinty also served as sponsor of the nation's first western band, which went on the air over KFRU, in Bristow, Oklahoma in 1925. During his 90 years, Billy McGinty lived a large part of America's Western history.
TThe Gerald Johnson Collection
Artifacts from the Gerald Johnson Collection are exhibited in the Gerald Johnson wing of the museum. This outstanding collection reflects the man behind it: Gerald Johnson. A Payne County native who is a passionate collector of artifacts of the Southwest and pioneer days, Johnson has amassed one of the most unusual collections of its kind in the country. The exhibits of the Gerald Johnson Collection will educate, entertain, and -- at times -- amaze you.
Other exhibits pay tribute to the pioneers and those who have written about them. Writers like noted Western author Glenn Shirley, who has helped to preserve Oklahoma's history.
And the site of the first battle of the Civil War in Oklahoma, the Battle of Round Mountains, was on Washington Irving's route. Although there has been some controversy over the years about the exact location of the battle, most historians believe that it took place near Twin Mounds, in eastern Payne County.
Admission: Admission is free
Address: 6 miles east of Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Highway 51 and 3 miles south on the Mehan Road
Our Email: Cchlouber@aol.com
Hours: April 1 through October
10 am - 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday
1 - 5 pm, Sunday
Winter Hours: 10 am - 5 pm, Thursday through Saturday
1 - 5 pm, Sunday
Come visit us in Stillwater, Oklahoma