ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Discover Bartlesville: Woolaroc; bandit haven, outlaw refuge, and famous home of Frank Phillips

Updated on December 12, 2017
Urbane Chaos profile image

Eric Standridge is a freelance writer with an interest in history. His main focus is writing about Oklahoma.

During the roaring 20’s, when flappers and jazz music dominated the scene in the east, Oklahoma was full of wild and rugged roughneck towns.  After the discovery of oil near Bartlesville, rough and rowdy men swarmed to the still young state of Oklahoma.  The era of outlaws and Indians ended as progress spread across the state.

For wealthy oilman Frank Phillips, this was a time of great prosperity.  Still, he was a man of dreams and longed for those turbulent days when outlaws roamed free and the land remained uncultivated.  His great wealth in the oil industry gave Frank a freedom that allowed him to live out these dreams. 

Franks massive ‘Ranch on the Range’, which he named Woolaroc, provided the perfect backdrop for these dreams of bygone eras to come to life.  He threw outlandish parties and regularly invited well-known outlaws and bandits to this sprawling ranch.  All across the west, Woolaroc was known to be a safe haven for anyone seeking escape from the law.

Frank Phillips
Frank Phillips

Frank Phillips and the Legacy behind the Lodge

Frank Phillips was one of the first oilmen to realize the potential of Oklahoma. After spending many years of hard prospecting, he discovered a massive pool of oil, and profited immensely from this untapped resource. In the years that followed, he went on to found the Phillips Petroleum Company. This small Bartlesville business went on to become the global energy enterprise we know today. Along with his other business ventures, it didn’t take long for Phillips to become immensely wealthy.

In the early days after discovering oil, Frank Phillips bought a large amount of land outside of Bartlesville. This land would eventually become known as the Woolaroc Ranch. Because of his fascination with the Wild West, he dreamed of owning a place that reflected his fascination, and it was because of this longing that the Woolaroc Ranch was born.

The Woolaroc Ranch began life as a simple one-room log cabin. Over the years, this small log cabin has been transformed into one of the most unique lodge structures in the United States.

Buffalo at the Woolaroc Ranch
Buffalo at the Woolaroc Ranch
The Woolaroc plane located inside the museum
The Woolaroc plane located inside the museum
Painting at the Woolaroc Ranch
Painting at the Woolaroc Ranch
Belle Starr Statue at the Woolaroc Ranch
Belle Starr Statue at the Woolaroc Ranch

Construction at the ranch began in 1925 with the main room of what would become the lodge.  Over time, this simple one-room building would grow to house eight bedrooms, including a servant’s room.

He called this ranch Woolaroc, a name taken from the woods, lakes, and rocks that surrounded it.  The name was originally intended for the lodge ranch house, but it was so unique that it became the name for the entire Frank Phillips ranch.

Two years later, in 1927, he chose the name Woolaroc for one of the two planes that he sponsored in the Trans-Pacific Dole Flight to Hawaii.  The plane won the $25,000 first prize, and Frank Phillips was so proud of that feat that he brought the Travel Air monoplane back to the Woolaroc Ranch.  After its arrival, he had a one-room sandstone “hanger” built to display his pride and joy. 

Like the lodge house, this one sandstone hanger continued to grow as Frank Phillips continued to add to his collections of artwork and other western memorabilia.  Eventually, this hanger would grow to become the main part of the Woolaroc Museum.

Frank Phillips was so infatuated with western lore that he brought Buffalo and other big game to his ranch.  Many of the decedents of these large beasts still roam across the 3,700-acre grounds of the Woolaroc Ranch.  The buffalo herd dates back to 1926 when Frank had 90 of the animals brought here from South Dakota.

That same year, Frank Phillips also hosted the first cow thieves and outlaws reunion at Clyde Lake.  While many of the stories from those days are long lost, one can imagine the mystery and mayhem that those events brought to the Woolaroc Ranch.

At one time, the Woolaroc Ranch was a thriving retreat for those famous enough to be invited.  In fact, it was here that Frank Philips won and lost the Ringling Brothers Circus in a bet.  Over the next 25 years, he and his wife entertained more than 200,000 guests, including presidents, actors, and outlaws.  Herbert Hoover, Wiley Post, and Harry Truman were just some of the people that Frank and his wife entertained.

The Woolaroc Ranch Today

Hidden away in the rugged Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma, the Woolaroc Ranch remains much as it was during Frank Phillips time.  This large home is an exceptional testament to the oil boom era in which it was built. 

Inside, the walls of the Lodge are ornamented with 97 animal heads and 107 sets of horns.  Many of these were gifts from some of his illustrious visitors, while others were from animals that had died of natural causes.

The Woolaroc Museum plays host to a comprehensive collection of American Western art.  Each room of the Woolaroc Museum is decked out with awe-inspiring paintings and sculptures, many from Frank Philips personal collection.  The exhibits bring to live the early history of the pioneers, the outlaws and Indians, and the rugged cattlemen that called Oklahoma home.

The Woolaroc Museum also hosts an internationally acclaimed collection of colt pistols, as well as the world famous Woolaroc plane.

During the summer months, visitors can experience an authentic 1840’s trader camp.  This camp recreates early settler life in Oklahoma.  Visitors can learn how to throw a tomahawk and fire a black powder musket.

Visiting the Woolaroc Ranch

Located just outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Woolaroc is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. Guided tours are conducted daily at 2:00 pm.

For more information on visiting the Woolaroc Ranch, as well as directions and current admissions, visit www.woolaroc.org.

© 2011 Eric Standridge

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 

      3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I can understand the fascination with the West. Something always look very "romantic" in hindsight. So, at least Phillips did something about it, of course he had the money needed. I just seems that in those days it was easier to become rich, but I am sure it is not the case.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)