Totem Pole ParkEd Galloway (1880-1963)
17106-17492 E 400 Rd, Claremore, OK, 74017, United States
The site is free to the public and open all daylight hours. The Fiddle House Museum and Gift Shop is open daily 12:00 – 5:00 pm. The park is located about 4 miles East of Foyil on Hwy 28A, approximately 3.5 miles from historic Route 66.
About the Artist/Site
Nathan Edward Galloway was born in 1880 in Springfield, Missouri and developed his carving skills as a child, creating mother-of-pearl buttons and small wooden objects. He served in the U.S. Army during the Philippine-American War, and, while stationed on the Philippine Islands, he was introduced to the art of Japan and the Far East. After the war he returned to Missouri and, because his fiancée’s family had relocated to northeast Oklahoma, he and his wife Villie moved back and forth between Missouri and Oklahoma over the years. Galloway did teach manual arts – particularly woodworking – to orphan boys in the Sand Spring Home for over twenty years. After he retired, in 1937 the couple moved to property they had purchased in Foyil, Oklahoma.
Soon Galloway began to create massive sculptures from tree trunks. He incorporated human figures, fish, and reptiles into these pieces and then, beginning in 1937 and continuing until 1948, he built a 90-foot-high totem pole, which rises from the back of an enormous turtle, in tribute to the American Indian. It is estimated that 28 tons of cement, six tons of steel, and 100 tons of sand and rock comprise the structure. The large concrete pole features 200 carved images, with four nine-foot Indians near the top representing different tribes; in addition, there are tropical reptiles and birds toward the bottom of the pole, which may reference the Asian imagery Galloway experienced while in the Philippines. The property also features his eleven-sided Fiddle House, where he displayed his handmade fiddles and furniture, as well as bas-relief carvings of every U.S. president up to and including John F. Kennedy. Four smaller concrete totems, two ornate concrete picnic tables with animal-form seats, a barbecue, and four sets of animal-form gateposts are also located on the site.
Ed Galloway said, "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." In the decades following Galloway’s death, the sculptures and buildings began to deteriorate from weather and neglect and then in 1989 the property was acquired by the nonprofit Rogers County Historical Society. The Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park then became one of the most popular and important attractions in northeast Oklahoma, partially due to its proximity to historic Route 66. Between 1988 and 1998 an extensive conservation effort was spearheaded by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association. The outdoor sculptures were restored and repainted, and the Fiddle House was extensively repaired and renovated, and then was repurposed as the Fiddle House Museum and Gift Shop.
In 1999 the Totem Pole Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but after several years, the World’s Largest Concrete Totem Pole and many of the other structures were again in need of conservation. A new effort, spearheaded by artists Erin Turner and Margo Hoover, and overseen by Park Director David Anderson and the Rogers County Historical Society, began during the summer of 2015. The local community is energized and engaged, and the project is on track for a successful completion.
Operations and maintenance of Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park are funded solely by visitor donations and gift shop sales. It is free to the public and open all daylight hours. The Fiddle House Museum and Gift Shop is open daily 12:00 – 5:00 pm. The park is located about 4 miles East of Foyil on Hwy 28A, approximately 3.5 miles from historic Route 66.
~Erin Turner and Margo Hoover
SPACES Archives Holdings
1 folder: clippings, correspondence, images, nat'l historic places registration form
Map & Site Information
17106-17492 E 400 Rd
Claremore, OK, 74017 us
Latitude/Longitude: 36.4372562 / -95.5254509
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