Pawhuska holds a lot of personal memories for me.
My grandfather ran a grocery store in town for years before he had a meat processing business in the country. My uncle has owned and operated Hometown Appliance on Kihekah Avenue for more than 20 years, and several of my late family members are buried in the hillside cemetery on West Avenue.
I watched as the town faded through the ’90s and early 2000s and rejoiced when a period of renaissance began in recent years. If you haven’t been to Pawhuska in a while, you should really take the drive into Osage County and see what you’re missing.
1. Pioneer Woman Mercantile
The centerpiece of the city’s revitalization is the Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Ree Drummond’s retail shop and restaurant at the corner of East Main Street and Kihekah Avenue.
The brick building has been lovingly restored and is always busy. You’ll see license plates from all across the country on cars parked around the Merc.
If you’re hungry and the line is just too long at Drummond’s eatery, the nearby Grill 125 also is an excellent place to get a bite.
2. Charming, historic downtown
Take some time to walk around downtown and visit the growing number of local shops and art galleries. The Triangle Building, long the centerpiece of downtown P-Town, is currently undergoing renovations with several surrounding businesses following suit.
3. Museums of local history
In addition to food and shopping, there are two nearby museums that speak to several aspects of the town’s history.
The Osage County Historical Society Museum gives a good overview of the region’s cultural heritage, such as Pawhuska being the site of the first Boy Scout troop in America. The Osage Nation Museum, up on the hill near the picturesque courthouse, focuses on the Osage people themselves and the rich Native American history of the area.
4. Cavalcade Street Dance, July 17
If you’re in Pawhuska on July 17, the Cavalcade Street Dance will take over the area surrounding the Triangle Building with live music and a street party.
5. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
The real gem of Osage County, however, is 15 miles to the north. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is just shy of 40,000 acres, making it the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve boasts a bison herd of 2,500 and is home to an array of wildlife and wildflower
When you look at the expanse of land that stretches out, seemingly forever, it’s easy to visualize covered wagons and frontiersmen on horseback. Several hiking trails allow visitors to take in the surroundings in relative solitude. There’s also a gift shop and visitor’s center in the center of the prairie that are worth a stop (open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily during the spring and summer only.).
6. A unique bridge adventure
Before heading back to Tulsa, check out the Swinging Bridge on your way back through Pawhuska. It’s on Kihekah Avenue, just south of Main Street. Since 1926, folks have used it to get from one side of Bird Creek to another.