This is a must for any roadside attraction lover.
While on a brief trip to Tulsa Jeremy and I stopped by one of the coolest parks on Route 66.
Background: The Blue Whale was built by Hugh Davis, a retired director from the Tulsa zoo, in 1972 as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, Zelta, who collected whale figurines.
The 80-foot sperm whale was made from pipe and hand poured concrete, with a diving platform on its tail and a slide coming out of the side of its head.
It was intended to be just for the family, but more and more people stopped to swim with the whale. So, Davis added picnic tables, fish head stools, extended the beach, and opened it to the public.
The park was originally called Nature’s Acres and included a reptile zoo known as the A.R.K. for Animal Reptile Kingdom. Which was housed in a recreation of the Biblical Arc. There was also an Alligator Farm on the property.
Across the street from the Blue Whale was the Arrowood Trading Post, ran by Davis’ brother, Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt, an Acoma Indian.
The park closed in 1988. Davis died in early 1990, and Zelta followed him in 2001.
The park sat empty for over a decade. Eventually folks in the town of Catoosa raised the money to fix up the crumbling whale.
What we did: The place was empty, giving it a Scooby-Doo creepy feel to it. Jeremy and I walked around the lake and checked out what we assumed were the exhibit areas. Now that I have done some research, we know they held the reptiles and alligators. The snack shop and gift stand were closed, but I understand Davis’ son Blaine opens it most weekends during the summer. The whale is just the perfect little testament to Davis and his wife. We walked through the whale and climbed to the top, we did not try out the slide or diving board, as swimming is no longer allowed. Next year will be the whale’s 50th anniversary, I hope the state or at least Catoosa will do something to celebrate this great icon.
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