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Route 66: Claremore, Oklahoma

Claremore is known for its most famous citizen, Will Rogers. So visiting the Will Rogers Memorial and Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch are a must. So are the Radium Water baths and the Historic Historic Will Rogers Hotel and Belvidere Mansion.
Enjoy Claremore and its segment of Historic Route 66.

Claremore OK

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About Claremore, Oklahoma

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 597 ft. (182 m). Population: 18,581 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Claremore is the county seat of Rogers County, Oklahoma and is located its south central region, on historic Route 66.

View of Downtown Claremore

Main Street Claremore Oklahoma
Downtown Claremore, Okiefromokla

Claremore's History

Northeastern Oklahoma has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years. Later, the Native American people hunted buffalo on the plains and the first to be encountered by western traders were the Osage Indians.

The area of Claremore was first settled by the Osage tribe in 1802, their Chief Claremont chose a spot next to Claremore Mound, just north of the present-day town. However in 1817 the Cherokee attacked the settlement in the Battle of Claremore Mound killing many men and children, imprisioning the rest, and burning the village.

The current population of Cherokee is due to their relocation to the Indian Territories in the mid 1800s, in turn, the Osage were relocated in Kansas in 1838.

The US government took the Cherokee Nation lands in the east and gave them new territory beyond the Mississippi River. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in a massive migration ("Trail of Tears") of the Cherokee Nation.

A second town was established in 1844, in the same place, and its first general store was owned by an Indian, John Bullette. It grew into a small town with 150 homes.

Clem Rogers (father of the famous Will Rogers), moved there in 1856 and established a ranch which eventually had 60,000 acres (240 km2).

There were some minor skirmishes during the American Civil War, and a stage coach mail line ran through the area; a post office was established in 1874.

Finally, in 1882, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad advanced its tracks from Vinita nto the area and set up a stop naming it Claremore; Bullette moved his store to the new station.

A second railroad (the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad) reached the town in 1889.

The Name of the town: Claremore

The town was to be named after the Osage Chief "Gra-moi", which the French traders pronounced "Claremont". However the telegraph operator misspelled it and wrote "Claremore"

By the way, Claremont in French means "Clear Mountain".

The city was incorporated in the Cherokee Nation on May 2, 1903. and after statehood in 1907, it became County seat.

Farming and ranching as well as the junction of two railroads promoted its growth. And the "radium water" soon attracted tourists.

Radium Water Baths

Radium Baths Token

A Radium Bath token,

One of Claremore's promoters, George Washington Eaton while drilling for oil in 1903 discovered a spring of water with a very foul smell of rotten eggs. Eaton discarded the water in a stream and he saw a mangy dog frolicking in the water which the next day was cured. Eaton quickly realized its potential and promoted it as a cure for all kinds of ailments from stomach problem and dandruff to eczema or rheumatism.

Eaton proclaimed that the foul smelling water was "Radium water"; in fact it had no radium. The source of its smell was sulfur and hydrogen sulfide.

Tourists began to arrive by rail to take baths. The first bathouse was built in 1904 and it drew crowds. People came from all over the world. The section where the baths were located became known as "Radium Town", it was just one mile north of town (between present day Seminole and Dorothy Avenues along 9th St.). It was good for business, hotels were full and merchants catered to the tourists.

You can see the only original bath hose still standing, the Mendenhall Radium Water Baths (1905) on the corner of Lavira Ave. and 7th St. and, in the downtown, the Will Rogers Hotel

However in 1897, Congress nullified tribal law and dissolved the reservations and its government. The state of Oklahoma (1907) was admitted into the U.S. and it soon established Rogers County.

When Route 66 was created in 1926, its alignment passed through the town of Claremore, bringing even more travelers to the town.

Where to Stay

Lodging Near Claremore

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>> There are five RV campgrounds in Claremore.

Weather in Claremore

The average high and low temperature in July are 69.5 and 92.8°F (20.8 - 30.2°C) while the winter (Jan) low and highs average 21.2 and 44.8°F (-6 and 7.1°C).

Rainfall is 39.4 in. (1,001 mm) per year, and is fairly constant, the maximum rainfall takes place in May, June and Sept. each with 4.6 inches (117 mm).

Snow falls in Claremore during winter and about 5 inches (13 cm) can be expected between Nov. and March.

Claremore's Tornado Risk: The town is located in the "Tornado Alley and experiences about 8 Tornado watches every year.

Read more about: Tornadoes on Route66.

Route 66 and Claremore Oklahoma
Location of Claremore, Rogers Co., Route 66

Getting to Claremore

Claremore is 82 miles from the Kansas state line. It 37 miles southwest of Vinita and 28 miles northeast of Tulsa.

Heading north along Route 66 are Foyil (10 mi.) and Chelsea (19 mi.).

Map of Claremore and Route66

in Oklahoma.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: Interstate highways, where they overlap the old alignment.

  Click to See the Western Oklahoma alignment

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Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary to Claremore

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Route 66 in Oklahoma

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.

Claremore, Oklahoma: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Claremore's Landmarks


The town is located in "Green Country", the northeastern corner of Oklahoma, with plenty of trees and hills. Visit its main sights: are Will Rogers birthplace ranch and memorial, the Belvidere Mansion, the Claremore Mound and the "radium water" bath houses. The original 1926 Route 66 alignment crosses the town.


Rollie Lynn Riggs, born in Claremore in 1899 wrote a play (Green Grow the Lilacs), which was later adapted by Rodgers and Hammerstein into the famous musical "Oklahoma!".

The play is set in Claremore and its surrounding area in 1906 and many characters were based on Riggs' family members and friends. There is a Lynn Riggs Memorial inside the Claremore Museum of History as well as a special exhibit.

Claremore Museum of History

121 N. Weenonah, Claremore OK.

Exhibits of the town's past: historic artifacts, Route 66, famous people from Claremore and old downtown.

Located in the former Will Rogers Library. Sat. 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. (More information: Museum's website)

Historic Downtown Claremore

Over 250 antique dealers, coffee shops and diners, a wide range of collectibles, antiques, and art.

J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum

330 North JM Davis Boulevard, on the original stretch of Route 66.

The world's largest collection of guns (more than 14,000 are on display). It exhibits 50,000 artifacts including saddles, swords, indian artifacts and musical instruments.

John Monroe Davis received his first gun when he was 7 years old, and began collectign them. His first exhibit was on the walls of his Mason Motel in Claremore, which he bought in 1919.

Located on Route 66, the collection attracted many visitors. Davis later leased and willed the collection to the State of Oklahoma, which built a modern facility to house it. Davis died in 1973 and is buried on the museum grounds.

Gift shop and guided tours, admission by voluntary contribution.

Belvidere Mansion

4th & Chickasaw, Claremore, OK.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

A 1907 Victorian Style Mansion.

Belvidere Mansion

Belvidere Mansion
Historic 1907 Victorian style Belvidere Mansion, Claremore, Oklahoma

John M. Bayless and his wife Mary moved to the Indian Territory from Caseville Missouri in 1901, and began building the mansion the following year. The house was completed in 1907.

A great part of the woodwoerk and trim were brought from the St. Louis 1904 World Fair. Its name comes from the Italian words "belvedere" or "belvidere" which mean "fair view".

It is a three-story construction with brick walls and tile roof. It has four towers, placed at the corners and a portico on its north side.

Open for touring, dining in the Tea Room or shopping. Tue. through Sat. 10 AM to 3 PM, The Belvidere Mansion - the 1907 Victorian-style built by the Bayless family (John M and Mary Bayless) who moved to Indian Territory from Cassville, Missouri in 1901. Much of the trim and woodwork used in the mansion were brought from the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Admission by voluntary contribution.

Claremore Auto Dealership

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places (Demolished)

Former location on 625 West Will Rogers Boulevard, Claremore (Demolished after listing in the National Register of Historic Places)

Was a car dealership built in the early 1930s in central Claremore.

Mendenhall's Bath House

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Lavira Ave. and 7th St., Claremore

The only remaining bath-house building in "Radium Town", built in 1905. See above the story of the "Radium Water Baths".

The Will Rogers Hotel

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

524 W. Will Rogers Blvd.

Will Rogers Hotel, Claremore Vintage postcard

Hotel Will Rogers, Claremore (ca. 1930 - 1945), Credits

This box-like building designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, was constructed in 1930. It is a six-story structure which had 78 rooms and 7 apartments. It was the last and largest hotel to be built in town.

Its steel and concrete skeleton led it to be designated as a bomb sheleter during World War II.

Built on a corner and facing Route 66 it catered to travelers along the mother road and to those seeking the curative power of "Radium Water Baths".

There is a statue of Will Rogers in the lobby and its interior decoration is clearly American Southwest style. On the second floor is the ballroom and the baths, shower rooms and sun deck were located on the sixth floor.

It closed in the 1980s and was rehabilitated in 1997. Visitors are welcome to visit the lobby and second floor. Mon. - Sat. 10 AM - 5 PM.

Will Rogers Hotel
Historic Will Rogers Hotel, Claremore OK
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Oklahoma Military Academy

Rogers State University campus at 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd. (918) 343-6888. Mon. - Fri. 8 AM- 5 PM.

The Museum is in the second floor of Meyer Hall - formerly Maurice Meyer Barracks (which is the second building on the left when entering the campus).

The Museum pays tribute to those who attended the institution established in 1919. More than 2,500 OMA graduates served in the United States Armed Forces since World War II, and over 100 OMA cadets gave their lives for their country.

It is across the road from the Will Rogers Memorial

Maurice Meyer Barracks

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The first class of cadets of the The Oklahoma Military Academy chose to call their barracks the "Maurice Meyer Barracks", in honor of Seargent Meyer, wounded by German shrapnel in France and died on September 24, 1918.

He gave his life leading the raid for a sick comrade on foreign battlefields.

The Meyers had migrated from Germany in the 19th century, his father Leo helped found the first Jewish congregation in the city of Guthrie.

Will Rogers, Oklahoma's Favorite Son

William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers was born in 1879 at his family's ranch, (Dog Iron Ranch) in what would later become Oologah, in Claremore, Oklahoma. He was a Cherokee Indian, a cowboy and also a movie star, an entertainer. He was a Brodway actor, a writer, philosopher and comedian.

His father, Clement Vann Rogers was a Cherokee Nation Senator and a judge. He helped write the Oklahoma Constitution. His mother was Mary America Schrimsher Rogers, who descended from a Cherokee chief. He had eight brothers and sisters, four of them died in their childhood.

Rogers joked that his ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower, but they "met the boat".

On the ranch he learned how to rope cattle and became a cowboy.

During his career in the 1920s and 1930s he made 71 movies and wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns. He was a world famous star.

He died in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935.

Many memorials remember him across the nation, the I-44 turnpike in Oklahoma bears his name as does U.S. Route 66, the "Will Rogers Highway" (there is a a plaque dedicating the highway to him, just next to its western terminus in Santa Monica, California.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum

1720 West Will Rogers Blvd. (918) 341-0719

The twenty acres site on a hill overlooks the town, and houses the Will Rogers Museum and his tomb, where he was buried in 1944.

His wife Betty (1879 - 1844) and three of his four children and his son Jim's wife are also buried there.

On exhibition are artifacts from his life: his saddle collection, videos and audio displays.

It is across the road from the Historic Meyer Barracks - Hall

Ths site was purchased by Rogers in 1911 for his retirement home.

Tours & Itineraries

Some sights and landmarks near the town:

Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch

9501 E. 380 Rd. , Oologah.

The Ranch is 15.2 miles north of Claremore

Take OK-88 until passing the dam on Verdigris River, then take a right along S4110 Rd. northwards until E380Rd, where you take a right again, to the Ranch next to the lake.

The house was built by Clem Rogers in 1875 with a typical Greek Revival style typical of the South of the USA, it was known as "The White House on the Verdigris". He moved out when his wife Mary died in 1890.

It had clapboard siding and a structure of 10-inch logs. The first floor measures 48 by 32 feet. The bedrooms are on the second floor, above the main rooms, foyer, kitchen, dining room and spare bedroom.

The house, at Rogers family Dog Iron Ranch had to be moved 3⁄4 of a mile (1.2 km) when the basin was dammed and flooded forming Oologah Lake. It now sits on the shores of the lake.

Coal mining is an important industry in Claremore and strip-style mines are currently operating on the north and south sides of the city.

Claremore Mound

Historic Oklahoma Marker

The "mound" is actually a low hill located north of Claremore, and north of Sageeyah, on the south bank of the Verdigris River.

You can visit it separately or on your way to Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch: Drive north out of Claremore along OK-88 and after 5.4 miles, on the left side of the road, past E. Canyon Oaks Rd.

The makrer reads: "Site of battle of "Strawberry Moon" 1817, when Chief Clermont's Osage village was wiped out by Cherokees. This Osage band from Missouri had settled near the mound at insistence of fur traders of St. Louis. Osages became the wealthiest Indians in Oklahoma by discovery of oil 100 yrs. later on reservation 2 miles west of mound. Oklahoma Historical Society 169-1995".

To see the mound, retrace your course back along OK-88 1.2 miles, to E 450 Rd. and turn right. After 1 mi. turn right onto S 4130 Rd -Northaven Rd. After 1 mile take a right and in front of you is the "mound".

Roberdes Family Vineyard & Winery

20570 E. 460 Rd., 11 mi. east of Claremore.

A 15 acre vineyard with over 950 vines with varietal grapes (Chambourcin, Traminette and Frontenac).

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Visit the nearby towns of Chelsea (19 miles northeast), and Catoosa 10 miles to the west, with their typical Route 66 attractions.

US Highway 66

Historic Route 66 alignment

Learn more about alignment of Historic Route-66 through Oklahoma.

The Historic 9-foot wide Ribbon Road segment of US 66 is only 52 miles east, at Afton.

Natural Attractions

National & State Parks

Spencer Creek Cove Public Use Area

Oologah Lake

Lake Oologah is a reservoir on the Verdigris River which covers 29,000 acres (120 km2) and has 209 miles (336 km) of shore length.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dam in the early 1950s, as part of a flood control program. They still administer it. The dam is an earth-fill embankment 137 ft. (42 m) above the river bed and 4,000 ft. (1.219 m) long. The reservoir provides drinking water for Tulsa.

There are a swimming beach, marina, campground and RV park as well as picnic areas.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Near Catoosa, see the Parks in Catoosa.


Photo by Okiefromokla is in the Public Domain.

Image by Kristina Maldonado under its CC BY -SA 3.0 License.

Vintage Postcard in the Public Domain., TokenCatalog #42813, Fair Use.

Oklahoma Historical Society Route 66 Mobile Tour Stop List.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License