By: Lorrie Ward | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: October 2012
The Totem Pole at Ed Galloway Park is the world’s largest, standing 90 feet tall.
October signals the end of summer, bringing on cooler temperatures and gorgeous fall foliage in eastern Rogers County. And what better way to celebrate these developments than to spend a Saturday afternoon outdoors at the Totem Pole Barbeque at Ed Galloway Park, located four miles east of Foyil on Highway 28A.
The Totem Pole Barbeque is a yearly event, but this year a new tradition will be set into place to solidify the old one. “The Totem Pole has hosted this barbeque for many years,” notes David Anderson, who volunteers as co-director for Ed Galloway Park with his wife, Patsy. “But three years ago, we moved the barbeque from spring to fall because of weather – and now we are setting the date for the first Saturday of every October.”
That Saturday falls on October 6 this year, and the Totem Pole Barbeque will run from noon to 4 p.m. Delicious barbeque and side items will be available for $9 a plate, with proceeds going toward preservation of the Totem Pole and Fiddle House at Ed Galloway Park. Time spent enjoying the park atmosphere is free, however, and people are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to relax with a picnic on the grounds. David says one of the best parts of the Totem Pole Barbeque is the live music from local entertainers, with styles ranging from gospel to bluegrass. “People just come and play and sing at spots across the park,” says David. “And sometimes, the audience joins in.”
In addition to raising funds for the operation and preservation of the Totem Pole and Fiddle House, David hopes that the Totem Pole Barbeque will raise awareness about the history of this unique site. Ed Galloway began work on what would become the world’s largest totem pole in 1937, completing this 90-foot work consisting of 28 tons of cement, six tons of steel, and 100 tons of native rock and sand in 1948. The multi-colored totem pole creates a brilliant splash of color against a backdrop of Blackjack and post oak trees, a surprising and breathtaking sight to newcomers on 28A and a welcome reminder to locals of Rogers County heritage and Native American history. While Galloway was not a Native American, he had a great love and reverence for the culture, and this work of art was a labor of love for the American Indian. The structure, featuring nine-foot-tall faces of four famous Native Americans – Geronimo (Apache), Sitting Bull (Sioux), Chief Joseph (Nez Peres’), and Quanah Parker (Comanche) – towers over the lovely house made of native stone that housed Galloway’s other works of art, which included the fiddles he created from different woods sent to him from all over the world and was aptly known as The Fiddle House. Today, The Fiddle House is a combination gift shop and museum, still displaying these finely crafted fiddles for successive generations.
Perhaps Ed Galloway could never have imagined what an impact he would make with his totem pole, which has become a world renowned landmark, featured in international books and publications and added to the National Register of Historic places in 1999. Galloway was quoted as saying, “All my life I did the best I knew. I built these things by the side of the road to be a friend to you.”
David and Patsy Anderson and members of the Rogers County Historical Society are committed that Galloway’s act of friendship will not be in vain. “Patsy and I grew up in Chelsea,” says David. “This is a part of our heritage.”
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