Imagine my surprise when I learned this 90 foot cement tribute to an imaginary mish-mosh of Native American Tribes not only still stands, but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places! (Not the more exclusive register of Historic LANDMARKS, but still) I thought I had just bought yet another photograph of a long forgotten goofy thing. Goofy it may be, but it was carefully restored and repainted by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association. That it is in Oklahoma seems not to have mattered to the Kansans. It is claimed to be "The World's Largest Concrete Totem Pole" (um...yeah, duh) but maker Ed Galloway cheated...he built it on a giant five foot tall turtle barely seen in the photo.
This Press Photo dates to 1947, just about near the time Ed claimed it was finished. It was even given an unusual amount of respect at the time from the press...note the text on the reverse says nothing about Ed's mental state, though if you look really close you CAN see they titled the caption "Monumental Joke." They also call it "grotesque" and infer it was made to trick future paleontologists. However, as Ed is passed away now, I can question his sanity! What crazy Okie would build a giant cement totem pole?
Whether Ed's mind was fit as a fiddle is questionable, but he made fiddles too...400 of them, though many were stolen out of the Fiddle house he also built next to the totem to hold them a few years after he passed away.
Ed's pole is estimated to weigh 134 tons. The big goobers on the side here also still remain. Ed mixed up his tribes a bit, putting some traditional Northwestern motifs down in the Sooner State too. In fact, the Indians Ed is depicting in his gravel and stone monolith are in a way responsible for the State's nickname, as after having driven them all further west (or 6 feet underground for good) the territory was opened up for all (All Non-native that is) in a giant landrush...and the cheaters who snuck in early received the more charming name of Sooners.
Ed Galloway was born 20 years before Oklahoma became a state, and started building his thing thirty years after.
Original Press Photograph 1947 Collection Jim Linderman