Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 49 - Little Rock & Oklahoma City

This is the submarine USS Razorback - open to the public as a permanent display on the Arkansas River, Little Rock. It was active in WW2, present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered, was only 3 miles from a 10K ton atomic weapon test in the Pacific Ocean, sold to the Turkish Navy and returned to the US after 30 years. Why is it here in Little Rock? Little Rock's football team are the razorbacks!

An old locomotive on display at Fort Smith, Arkansas

This is the old soldiers barracks, then courthouse and jail (gaol) at Fort Smith, Arkansas. What so historical about this building? It is where Judge Isaac C. Parker presided. He was called the "hanging judge" and sentenced many murderers and rapists to the gallows in the late 1800's. Now some may remember Judge Parker's name mentioned in the True Grit movies - he was a factual person during those tumultuous years.

The paddy wagon during Judge Parker's days at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith was the frontier town to the west where outlaws, hostile Indians and other nefarious individuals used to roam 

The prison cell inside the the Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas 

There are interesting stories regarding inmates and law enforcers during the Fort Smith's heydays.

Well, Belle Starr wasn't the heroine that movies and TV portray. She was convicted by Judge Parker for horse theft in 1883. Sounds like a Ned Kelly yarn?

This is the actual court room of Judge Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas

A macabre picture of a typical public hanging event in Fort Smith, Arkansas

This is the Commissary building inside the Fort Smith Historic Site, Arkansas

A rebuilt gallows on the same spot of the original. Inside the Fort Smith Historic Site, Arkansas - 86 men were hanged over 23 years between 1873 - 1896

An excellent picture of the Oklahoma rush for land located in the Visitor's Centre just inside Oklahoma State near Sallisaw

Another domed state capitol building - they just keep coming. This structure is the Oklahoma City State building for the capitol of Oklahoma

A statue of an Apache squaw in front of the Oklahoma City capitol building

It's 102 deg F and Ralph has his top off with Anne. In front of the Oklahoma City State Capitol building

One of the state buildings near the state capitol buildings in Oklahoma City

Many fine buildings are located in the Oklahoma City historic district. This is a good example and very near the State Capitol building

Another state building near the Oklahoma City State Capitol building

Oklahoma City is built on oil. There are many old oil wells all over the city that are now not used. This one is on the road to the State Capitol building

The Reflecting Pool inside the once Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The old building was destroyed by  Timothy McVeigh - the Oklahoma City bomber in 1995

This information tablet explains the intent of the Memorial Site in Oklahoma City - sad! 

The empty chairs inside the Oklahoma City Memorial Site - located where the building once stood

The building next to the Oklahoma City Federal building that was destroyed - now the Memorial Museum

Another view of the Reflecting Pool - Oklahoma City Memorial Site

This is one of two similar walls at the entrances to the Oklahoma City Memorial Site

The words are plain and simple at the base of this statue "and Jesus wept". Located just outside the Oklahoma City Memorial Site

People still remember that terrible day in 1995 by placing items on the wall at the entrance of the Oklahoma City Memorial Site

Just across the road from our Oklahoma City hotel "the Colcord" there is a park with a greenhouse. The Myriad Botanical Gardens is magnificent with all sorts of botanical features and plenty of grass just to relax

Inside the park in downtown Oklahoma City - the sunken amphitheatre 

Our hotel is located next to this tall building in downtown Oklahoma City (the building to the right with the sign on top). The tall building is called the Devon Building

What we liked about Oklahoma City's Sunday evening with no traffic, a free concert in the Myriad Botanical Gardens, people are friendly and just easy going. The band are playing "bluegrass" music.

We left Little Rock early this morning and crossed over from Arkansas into Oklahoma. We arrived in Okla City at 3:30 pm to a very hot day. Six weeks ago Oklahoma was almost devastated with those twin tornadoes and the flooding that followed. Well today is is 102 deg F and no sign of any flooding, however we did see some tree damage outside Okla City on the way in. We ensured that we stopped at a place called Fort Smith in Arkansas and only a stone's throw away from Oklahoma State. What is so important about Fort Smith? It was the last location of civilisation facing the western untamed country. It was an actual fort during the American Civil War (the Confederates were the owners) and after that conflict was the staging point for the Indian wars. Following that many outlaws roamed the west and when caught were tried at Fort Smith under the famous hanging judge Isaac Parker. If anybody had watched the True Grit movie when John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn would yell out with one-eyed patched:

Ned Pepper
→ What's your intention, Rooster? You think one on four is a dog-fall?
Marshall Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn
→ I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned, or see you hanged at Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?
Ned Pepper
→ I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!
Marshall Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn
→ Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!

Besides True Git other nefarious outlaws such as the Dalton Brothers and Belle Starr were visitors of Judge Parker. Another movie that portray Fort Smith and Judge Parker was Hang Em High with Clint Eastwood. Well enough of Fort Smith and on with what we saw in Oklahoma City. First being a Sunday it was deserted - good as there were no traffic. We investigated the State Capitol building and really we are "all capitol'ed out". Next we visited another macabre scene the Oklahoma City Memorial Site when in 1995 168 people lost their lives (many of them children) when Timothy McVeigh detonated 7,000 lbs of ANFO in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building. After walking around the memorial site we returned to our hotel "The Colcord" and wandered around the Myriad Botanical Gardens directly across the road from our hotel. A beautiful and peaceful park with a couple places to perform concerts. Actually at 7:30 pm there was a concert performed by the Bread & Butter Band playing bluegrass music. Tomorrow we head off the Dallas, Texas for three days. We do have two tours arranged and ample time to do shopping. Cheers

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