April 22, 1889, the area known as the Unassigned Lands in Oklahoma Territory was opened for settlement. In just over 100 years, a collection of tents grew to a metropolitan city of nearly one million inhabitants. The pioneer zeal of those early settlers is just as evident in the Oklahoma City of today.
If you want to see a little of the real West of today, mosey on down to Stockyards City, a few minutes west of downtown. Home to the world’s largest stocker/feeder livestock market, Stockyards City is the “genuine article” and a “must see” when visiting Oklahoma City.
You won’t find any “My parents went to Stockyard City and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” shirts or Elvis salt and pepper shakers but you will leave knowing what a real steak tastes like, and that real boots don’t come from Bloomingdale’s.
Take time to browse the western wear and specialty shops lining the streets, complete with jeans (Wranglers is the brand of choice), hats, dusters, spurs and belt buckles the size of hubcaps. Popular destinations for visitors to the Stockyards are Cross Bar Gallery, located at 1400 South Agnew; Oklahoma Native Arts, located at 1316 South Agnew; Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, located at 1309 S. Agnew; and Shorty’s Hattery, located at 1206 South Agnew.
Cross Bar Gallery features handcrafted furniture and art of the American West. Almost all of the products are made in the United States. Some visitors come to appreciate the custom artwork by western legends such as G. Harvey, Martin Grell, Bruce Green, and Kenneth Wyatt. Others stop to admire the jewelry designed by Bob Berg and sold exclusively in Oklahoma by Cross Bar Gallery.
An entertaining part of the store is National Saddlery, which has been around the Stockyards for 82 continuous years. John Rule is a master tooler and saddle maker. Along with his wife, DonaKay, the Rules’ tack and tooling business complements Cross Bar Gallery’s custom western furnishings and visitors enjoy watching the master craftsman at work. Oklahoma Native Art and Jewelry is a Native American owned and operated store and is also a working art gallery. The gallery features works by Native American Artists past and present, featuring museum quality art including pottery by White Antelope, carvings by Creeping Bear and fine art by Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Jerome Bushyhead, Virginia Stroad and many more.
Of particular interest to visitors is the extensive selection of quality Native American jewelry. Exceptional works are created by Mario Badillo, the on-site jeweler, working in silver, gold, North American turquoise, Australian Gaspeite, white buffalo turquoise, and other faceted stones In addition to repairs, which can be done while you wait, commission and specialty work is available. Oklahoma Native Art and Jewelry is also educational and allows you to relax and become a part of the Native American culture.
Cattlemen’s Café opened its doors to hungry cowboys, ranchers, cattle haulers and the like in 1910. Cattlemen’s was one of the few places that stayed open after sundown. Because of this, it also attracted a very colorful clientele. During Prohibition, it was known for its home-brewed ‘liquid delights.’
Since 1945, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has become a gathering place for all kinds of folks - from movie stars to rodeo greats, politicians to potentates! Check the walls of the dining rooms and view the drawings of all the well-knowns who have sampled Cattlemen’s fare - Gene Autry, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and more recently, Reba McIntyre. In the early ‘90s, George Bush (the elder, while he was President) stopped in for a good meal and a stiff drink. Today, like a good wine, Cattlemen’s continues to improve with age.
To complete your wardrobe, be sure to stop in Shorty’s Hattery, home to one of only a handful of custom hatters left in the entire United States. Shorty’s ‘Caboy Hattery has created custom hats for Rodeo Champions to Country and Western Music’s biggest entertainers. The reason—quality and consistency.
Shorty’s hats are a trusted part of the cowboy’s wardrobe. Each hat is fitted and shaped individually according the customer’s facial features and shape of their head—critical features when determining the height of the crown, width of the brim and type of crease. Customers choose the color and quality of the hat from 20X to 100X (meaning 20% to100% beaver fur) and then wait for the craftsmen at Shorty's to create their custom hat.
The next time you see Reba McIntire, Charlie Daniels, Tonya Tucker or Michael Martin Murphy, check out their hat—it probably came from Shorty’s in the Stockyard’s District.
The western spirit that helped found OKC is alive and well in the Stockyards District. Located one mile south of I-40 at Agnew, visitor’s can take advantage of the Metro Transit Orange Line Trolley, which operates on an hourly schedule, traveling between the Meridian Avenue hotels and Bricktown, with stops in the Stockyards.
For more information on Cross Bar Gallery, call 405-239-2104
or www.crossbargallery.com; Native American Gallery can
be reached at 405-604-9800; Cattlemen’s 405-236-0416 or www.cattlemensrestaurant.com; and Shorty can be reached by
calling 405-232-4287 or www.shortyshattery.com.
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