Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Oklahoma River, Part 4A

Click here to go to Part 1 - Introduction
Click here to go to Part 2 - Floods & Change
Click here to go to Part 3 - MAPS & Change
Click here to go to Part 4B - Tour of Oklahoma River Trails


Parts 4A and 4B conclude my 4 part series on the Oklahoma River, focusing more on what is and not what is to come unless something is already "on the boards". To the best of my knowledge, that means (a) Chesapeake Boathouse and related activities; (b) The Kerr-McGee Bell Tower; (c) The Ozarka Bricktown National Drag Races; (d) The American Indian Cultural Center; and (e) the Oklahoma River Trails and related things encountered while walking or riding the same. Part 4B covers the river trails; Part 4A covers the rest. Often you can click on an image for a larger view.

Chesapeake Boathouse and Related Activities

I'll begin by duplicating a couple of images at the end of Part 3:

This sleek $3.5 million facility is a Centennial Project which formally opened in January 2006 and is the 1st privately funded structure to be completed on the river. According to the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau,

The boathouse offers rowing, kayaking and dragon boating for people of all ages. Community programs include Chesapeake Junior Crew for high school students and Chesapeake Oklahoma City Crew for adults. The boathouse is also home to two collegiate programs, Oklahoma City University’s varsity crew and the University of Oklahoma club crew. The Oklahoma City rowing community hosts several events throughout the year. In April, Opening Day marks the beginning of a new rowing season with free rowing lessons and demonstrations. In May, the Chesapeake Boathouse hosts the US Rowing Central District Junior Championship. Oklahoma City celebrates June with RiverFest which includes the OKC Dragon Boat Challenge and the Rose Rock Regatta, both attracting competitors from across the region. OCU’s Head of the Oklahoma, quickly becoming one of collegiate racing’s premier events, is held in October. Informal racing can be seen on the Oklahoma River on weekends and kayaks are available for rent.
The site has been selected by the US Olympic Committee to host the October 2007 USA International Rowing World Challenge, a precursor to the Beijing Olympics. The 10-day event will close with international athletes joining Oklahomans in celebrating the state's 100th anniversary at the Oklahoma Centennial Parade on October 14. See row2knews and the official Olympic Committee announcement. And, see this thread at and this one at Next month, September 30 - October 1, it hosts the Head of Oklahoma Centennial Regatta, an event which may draw as many as 30,000. See this thread at for more about that. To open the Boathouse's website, click here. To have a look at its river cam, click here.

Kerr-McGee Centennial Bell Tower

Click on the above for a larger pic - this project is not yet done. According to the DowntownOkc 3rd Quarter 2006 Skyline Snapshot,

This Centennial project includes new trails in Centennial Park on the Oklahoma! River and the 50-foot Kerr-McGee Bell Tower which will be located on a point jutting into the Oklahoma! River on the SE edge of the park. The tower, which will serve as an architectural element half-way between the American Indian Cultural Center to the east and the Chesapeake Boathouse to the west, will include a carillon that plays Westminster chimes on the quarter hour and will be illuminated at night.
Ozarka Bricktown National Drag Races

Another Centennial event, occurring annually in July, is the Ozarka Bricktown National Drag Racing competition. According to, "The Second Annual Ozarka Bricktown Nationals held on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City brought more than 190 boats and in excess of 50,000 fans in more than 100F temperatures."

Below, the 1st 2 pics are from (above link) website taken at the July 2006 races (there's lots more at the link above) and the last is from the Bricktown Nationals website, linked below.

To open this annual event's website, click here.

American Indian Cultural Center and Museum

The Center will be located on about 300 acres of land to be donated by the City of Oklahoma City at the intersections of I-35 and I-40 in downtown Oklahoma City with a target opening date of 2006. A master plan and conceptual design has been completed by an exceptional group of architects, designers and museum and exhibit specialists. This plan includes many aspects that reflect Native American culture and traditions of water, wind, fire and earth, the circle, sun cycles and places of gathering for social and sports events.

The outdoor design plan for the Cultural Center and Museum include woodland, plains and wetlands settings as well as a lake extending the entire length of the site. The landscaping of the site will include trees and plants native to the area. Lakeside facilities of a 200-room lodge hotel and tribal meeting and conference center plus a 125 room motor hotel will provide space for meetings for many organizations.
The stated "opening date" is obviously ambitious since groundbreaking ceremonies occurred less than a year ago, in November 2005.

A fairly poor but nonetheless useful map showing the location of the mammoth project appears below:

From the Center's official website,, come the following images and descriptions:

Hall of the People. Visitors are welcomed into a soaring, light-filled room of glass and modern structural steel latticework whose structure evokes cross-cultural ideas from the weave of a basket, timber framing of the tipi, ribs of the buffalo, to the tapered proportions of a feather. The hall will be a civic landmark whose scale speaks to the monumental accomplishments of the many Diverse American Indian Nations in Oklahoma.

Courtyard of the Wind. Around the courtyard stand twelve 38-foot tall posts, representing the twelve language stocks spoken by the 39 federally recognized tribes who currently reside in Oklahoma. Visitors will be greeted with a sonic experience emerging from the wind pipes, which conveys and interprets the importance of wind and it's analogous relationship to breath | song | language. At the outer ring of the courtyard, bronze medallions are inlayed indicative of the sovereign nations whose capitols and headquarters are arrayed like a constellation across diverse sites throughout the state.

Central Promonotory. This great, 80-foot-high ramping circle of earth, 1,000 feet in diameter - is a dramatic contemporary tribute to a sophisticated and ancient cultural legacy. More than half a mile long, the walk represents the often-arduous journeys of triumph, as well as of tragedy, made by many Indian people over their long histories. The walk begins below ground in the "Garden of Origins" and ascends to the highest point, where the interrelationship of all parts of the Cultural Center are in view. The promontory peak is a place for introspection about self, freedom, natural democracy and man's role in preserving nature's many forms of diversity (including the diversity of cultures.) During the course of their own experiences on the Promontory Walk, visitors will encounter sky terraces which offer a place to sit and rest while listening to audio programs, interacting with storytellers, docents or educators.

Courtyard of Nations. This courtyard is formed by the arc of the Central promontory and the Cultural Center. The large circular courtyard, which is larger than a football field, will be a gathering place for both contemporary and traditional activities. It will be a place to recognize relationships between global peoples and the Indian communities of today.

When's it really gonna be done? I couldn't say, but I did drive into the site on Saturday, 8/12/2006, took some pics, and saw a heck of a lot of land mounds being formed with lots of heavy earth-moving vehicles around. The following pics cannot really capture the vastness of this project, though. But, here they are (click on a picture for a larger view):

Left: looking south from I-40; Right: Looking west from Eastern

Looking at the closest mound to Eastern
Left, looking west; Right, looking east

Oklahoma River Trails and Related Things

These are covered in Part 4B ... a tour of the Oklahoma River Trails ... but you can click on the small image below to see what's coming next.


Mike in Norman said...

Do you have or know of any maps of OKC's Bricktown with restaurants? I need to mail my clients a letter advising I am freeing up some of my Hornets season tickets, and would like to orient them to my free parking pass east of the Bricktown Ballpark to the Ford Center with restaurants noted. I can't believe the Bricktown Association doesn't have something like this that I could have found by now.

Doug Dawg said...

I just noticed your comment, Mike.

You might have a look at the 2 maps available at Bricktown's Map page. I don't know how current they are, though.

Jeanne said...

I don't see anything about the Oklahoma River Cruisers. You mention the water taxis that were anticipated. Those became the Oklahoma River Cruisers. Can I help with the update?

Doug Dawg said...

Absolutely, Jeanne.

I think I have a standing invitation to come take a cruise sometime so that I will learn more about the river cruises (I've not don that yet, so I'm really not presently qualified to write anything about it, in my opinion).

So, please feel free. Click on my Doug Dawg name in this comment and that will open up a place that you can e-mail me, if you want.