So many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

Steve and I recently visited Pawhuska in northeastern Oklahoma. This town has fewer than 3,500 residents, was settled in 1872, and got its name from the Osage chief, Paw-Hiu-Skah. I had no idea there were so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Pawhuska, well-known as the home of The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile, is an extremely popular and excellent day or weekend trip destination. I read at The Pioneer Woman’s website that the Mercantile averages 6,000 visitors a day! That’s a lot of people for this small town, I think.

Osage Hills State Park

2131 Osage Hills
Park Rd
Pawhuska, OK 74056

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

Our home during our visit to Pawhuska was the nearby Osage Hills State Park. There are lots of trees surrounding the RV sites, and the park has all the amenities we needed and more, including showers, playground, boat fishing, and even a canvas-wall tent! What a great little park this is.

The park also has a group camp as well as charming stone cabins to rent. The Civilian Conservation Corps built these cabins in the ’30s. All camping sites, RV, tent, cabin, or group camp, must be reserved online, but it’s an easy process.

The first Boy Scout troop

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

One of Pawhuska’s claims to fame is that in 1909 the first Boy Scout troop was organized in Pawhuska by John F. Mitchell. Reverend Mitchell, from England, was a friend of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts in England.

Osage Nation Museum

819 Grandview Ave
Pawhuska, OK 74056

The Osage Nation Museum is the United States’ oldest tribally owned museum. It contains historical Osage art and culture, including a large historical photo collection. We were lucky enough to visit just after the opening of The Voices from the Drum Exhibit.

Voices from the Drum Exhibit

This fascinating exhibit includes drums made by drum maker Rock Pipestem. The drums were presented to Osage artists, who were asked individually to express their art on the drum canvases. These talented artists’ illustrations on the drums are amazing. This was fascinating! Unfortunately, photos of this exhibit were not allowed.

The Osage County Historical Society Museum

700 North Lynn Avenue
Pawhuska, OK

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

This museum has several exhibits and artifacts and a great book collection that includes many Oklahoma history books. There is so much history in this museum about the Osage oil boom and Indian and pioneer life. A Boy Scout exhibit is also on display here.

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

I knew very little about this area, its history, and almost nothing about the Osage Indians. What an eye-opening and informative museum for me. The Osage Tribe has had a colorful and tragic past.

Osage Oil

Oil was discovered in 1897 on the Osage Indian Reservation in nearby Bartlesville. The Osage, the only Indian Tribe to negotiate an allotment agreement that separated surface and mineral rights, maintained the mineral rights on their approximately 1.47 million-acre Reservation.

These mineral rights entitled the Osage to receive quarterly distributions from these mineral rights during the oil boom. This is how the Osage Nation became the wealthiest in the U.S., with their mineral rights earning over $30 million in 1923 alone.

Congress did not believe the Osage could manage this wealth and, as a result, appointed each Osage tribal member guardians to oversee these royalties. The guardians, mostly savvy lawyers, frequently took advantage of the Osage, stealing their wealth, sometimes even murdering their charges.

Million Dollar Elm

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

In 1912, after a blanket lease ended, Osage members began selling their mineral rights individually at auctions to the highest bidder. These auctions took place under a large elm tree in Pawhuska. It was named the Million Dollar Elm because of the million-dollar sales made there.

Movie in the making

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

As we drove around town, we happened on this barricaded movie set! The movie, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is currently being filmed in Puhawska. The stars of the movie are Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Robert De Niro.

I have read the fantastic book by David Grann that this movie is based on, and I am excited to watch the movie when it comes out. This nonfiction book tells the story of the Osage murders during the oil boom.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

532 Kihekah Ave
Pawhuska, OK 74056

The Pioneer Woman’s products are all here, under one roof – all great products, in my opinion. Dishes, cooking, and baking implements, all of Ree Drummond’s books, aprons, t-shirts, memorabilia; anything you can imagine that is Pioneer Woman-related is for sale here and beautifully displayed.

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

We met my sister Charlotte and our nieces, Gina and Sarah, for lunch at the Mercantile’s Deli and had a delicious lunch.

Burgers and chicken-fried steak

We were waitlisted for a table and had a three-and-a-half-hour wait for lunch at 3 p.m.! Although that is an incredibly long time to wait, we enjoyed our time spent visiting and shopping at The Mercantile. We also had the best snickerdoodle cookie snacks upstairs at the Bakery while waiting.

It isn’t easy to spend much time in downtown Pawhuska without walking into one of The Pioneer Woman’s businesses. In addition to The Mercantile general store, restaurant, and Bakery, she and her husband own Charlie’s Sweet Shop (ice cream and candy), a pizza shop, and an inn.

Most everyone is familiar with The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, and The Mercantile. I was also familiar but had no idea it was such a big deal business and vacation destination. This is the main attraction in Pawhuska, but there is so much more to see and learn from this historical Oklahoma town.

Swinging Bridge

so many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

Finding and walking across this bridge was also a fun little adventure. The bridge was refurbished in 1970 but has not been changed much since 1926 when it was constructed.

Written on a plank of the swinging bridge

The bridge does have a healthy swing to it and sits thirty feet above Bird Creek. In 1926 this bridge was the only way to cross the creek to get to the town of Puhawska. A sign at the bridge instructs you not to swing it and states it has a 25 person capacity.

You will definitely enjoy a visit to this town. Shopping, great food, history, and friendly locals in every direction you look. You can’t help but have a good time here. We plan to visit again, of course.

Check back next week as we continue this meandering RV trip through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

So many unique things to see in small town PawhuskaSo many unique things to see in small town Pawhuska

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