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Vinita

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Route 66: Vinita, Oklahoma

Vinita, seat of Craig County, Oklahoma, it is the second oldest town in Oklahoma. Its best-known landmarks are: Historic Hotel Vinita, the McDougal Filling Station, the Clanton's Cafe (the longest continually family owned restaurant along the whole of Route 66) and the McDonalds bridge-restaurant, the biggest in the whole world. But don't miss these other sights:

Vinita OK

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About Vinita, Oklahoma

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 699 ft. (213 m). Population: 5,743 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Vinita, is the county seat of Craig County, Oklahoma, in the northeastern tip of the state, close to Missouri and Kansas in the "Green Country" region of Oklahoma, where the forested Ozark Highlands blends with the prairie.

Downtown Vinita

Downtown Vinita, Oklahoma
Downtown, in the 1920s, Vinita, Oklahoma
White Pelican

The Historic Route 66 crosses the town from North to South.

Vinita's History

This part of America has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. The Native American people were hunters and gatherers. The current Cherokee population in Oklahoma is the result of their "Removal" from their original homeland east of the Mississippi by the U.S. government.

In the early 1800s, the Federal government swapped their lands in Georgia for other land west of the Mississippi River. Treaties were signed and the Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830.

The natives relocated in what is now Oklahoma and set up the Cherokee Nation with its capital, Tahlontiskee (near present Gore, OK) in 1839 after a terrible migration (the "Trail of Tears").

There were two battles near Vinita during the American Civil War, at Cabin Creek:

Battles of Cabin Creek

Cabin Creek is about 30 miles from the Kansas state line and was the point where the Old Military Road , coming up from Texas, split off from the Texas Trail. A large double plank cabin was built here, and it would give its name to the trail, the creek and a also -though much later- to a nearby town.

There were two battles fought here: the first battle took place on July 1 - 2, 1863, and resulted in a Union victory. It was the first in which African American troops (the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry) fought alongside white soldiers. The Second battle (Sept. 17, 1864) was a Confederate victory.

Vinita's Eastern Trails Museum has relics of the battles. Which are reenacted every third year (next one is in October 2016).

The Cherokee Nation in the late 1860s granted permission for the laying of railways through their territory. The first tracks were those of the Missouri - Kansas - Texas Railroad Company (or MKT or "Katy"), who builtits line southwards down the "old Texas Road" towards Texas.

Lavinia Ellen Ream

Lavinia "Vinnie" Ellen Ream

Katy's attorney and mixed-blood Cherokee Col. Elias C. Boudinot II, chose a spot next to Cabin Creek for the location of a townsite. He set up a tent town there. He knew that this would be the point for a junction between MKT and another railroad, the Atlantic and Pacific Line (A&P). He named the town Vinita.

A&P was building a line that crossed the country in a diagonal from St. Louis to Vinita and intended to head west towards California (it reached Needles, CA in 1885, after being purchased by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880).

But A&P had negotiated with some Cherokee leaders that opposed Boudinot, and moved their tracks so that the junction would not fall within Boudinot's land. Instead the junction was to be located about 3 miles further north.

Both railways met and a town was laid down in 1871 by Joseph Vann, Dr. Miller and Joseph Thompson (who became its first Mayor and built its first building). Its original name was Downingville after Lewis Downing, the main Cherokee Chief at that time.

Boudinot's Vinita

Boudinot named the town after his lady friend Lavinia "Vinnie" Ream.

Lavinia Ellen Ream Hoxie (1847 - 1914). American sculptor best known for the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

Boudinot's town was short lived, but the name prevailed, Downingville became Vinita (though for many years it was known as "The Junction") and was incorporated under Tribal laws in 1873.

The town grew and the railway junction allowed cattle-shipping to St. Louis and to Kansas City.

Between 1898 and 1906, the Federal Government curtailed the authority of the Cherokee Nation and in 1897 Congress nullified tribal laws and in consequence Vinita was incorporated in 1898.

The tribal government was dissolved, the reservation terminated and Oklahoma admitted as a state of the Union in 1907, and Craig County was established.

Vinita Trivia

Phil McGraw, TV personality "Doctor Phil" was born in Vinita, and Will Rogers, actor, singer, politician, cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator was, despite being the local celebrity, born 40 miles away in Oologah, Oklahoma.

In the meantime, telephones were installed in 1897 year and electricity in 1899 (it was the first city in Oklahoma with electricity).

When the national highway system being discussed in the 1920s Vinita lobbied effectively to have some of them pass through the town: US highways 59, 60, 66, 69 and 73 were all aligned to cross the town.

Vinita is...

  • The second oldest town in Oklahoma
  • The first town in the state with electricity
  • The oldest incorporated town on Oklahoma's Route 66

Its economy received a boost from travelers driving down Route 66 during the Great Depression and the World War II period. However the road became unsafe and too small to handle the growing flow of vehicles. By 1957 the Will Rogers and Turner turnpikes had replaced it between Joplin and Oklahoma City.

Clasic US 66 Neon sign, Vinita, Oklahoma

Inn in Vinita, Oklahoma
Route 66 Inn Neon Sign, Vinita, Oklahoma, , click image to enlarge

Where to Stay

There are several hotels in Vinita. Alternatively you can also lodge in the neighboring towns along Route 66 in Oklahoma:

> > Book your Hotel in Vinita

Lodging Nearby:
Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> There are two RV campgrounds in Vinita.

Vinita’s Weather

Latest Vinita, Oklahoma weather
Route 66: Vinita, Oklahoma location map
Location of Vinita on Route 66

Average annual rainfal is 43 inches (1.090 mm) and it rains about 91 days per year, mostly during late spring and summer. Sunny days are the most frequent: 226 days yearly.

The average high temperature in July is 93°F (33.9°C) and in January the average low is 24°F (-4.4°C).

It snows in Vinita during winter and about 11 inches (28 cm) fall between Nov. and March.

Tornado Risk. Vinita is located inside Oklahoma's "Tornado Alley and experiences about 8 to 9 Tornado watches every year.

Read more about: Tornadoes on Route66.

Getting to Vinita

Vinita is 45 miles southwest of the Kansas state line and 30 miles south of Miami and 15 miles east of Afton.

To the west along US 69 - Route 66 are Chelsea, Claremore, Catoosa and Tulsa (65 mi.).

Map of Route 66 through Vinita Oklahoma

Display Vinita Route 66 Map


  Click Map will appear below
 

The map above shows US 66 alignment through Vinita, the color key For Vinita only is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment in Vinita
Black south of town is the 1926 alignment.

Google Maps. Terms. Nicolas Mollet, CC BY SA 3.0 License

Route 66's alignment in Oklahoma: the Historic Route 66 through Vinita

Route 66 logo

Route 66 in Oklahoma

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

Read below for more information on Route 66's alignment in Vinita.

Route 66 landmarks & attractions

Sights in Vinita

Jack Rittenhouse drove along Route 66 in 1946, collecting information which he included in his book "A Guide Book to Highway 66", a great resource for those keen on learning more about US 66 during the post-war period. In it, he wrote about Vinita:

There was a gas station 2 miles east of the town. Then came the downtown area which had the "hotels: Vinita and Cobb" followed by the "courts: DeLuxe, Ranch Motel, Meeks, 66 Court, Texaco Cabins -all on the south side" (courts were motels), two miles west of the town was Tip Top Court, which had a cafe and gas. Followed 2 miles west by a gas station with a small garage. Then came the village of "Whiteoak" (he wrote it as one word not two).

Hotel Vinita is still standing, but all the motels mentioned by Rittenhouse are gone (for instance, the 66 Court on 449 S Wilson has been razed).

Nevertheless, there are plenty of Route 6 classics to see:

Town Attractions

Vinita

Vinita is a great example of "small town" America: Route 66 is its Main Street, and it has its share of historic hotels, diners, gas stations and buildings; history and nostalgia together on Route 66.

Start your itinerary through touwn four miles east of Vinita, on Old US 66:

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Visit the nearby towns of Afton (15 miles east) and Miami (30 miles northeast), with their typical Route 66 attractions.

McDougal Filling Station

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

443956 East State Highway 60 (and S 4440Rd.), 4 mi. east of Vinita (See this Map with Directions).

Historic McDougal Gasoline Station, Vinita

Old McDougal Filling Station
Old McDougal Filling Station, Vinita, Oklahoma
, click image for street view

This independent gasoline station was built in 1940. It was designed to look like a house: red shingled roof, brick chimney and home-like door and windows. It has a sandstone veneer which alternates dark and light stones in a style found in the region and known as "Giraffe Stone".

It operated until I-44 bypassed it in the late 1950s.

Summerside Vineyards Winery & Meadery

441251 E. Historic Route 66, Vinita. (888) 508-9463. www.summersidevineyards.com

Located close to the I-44 exit, southeast of Vinita is this winery established in 1999 and located here in 2003. You can enjoy mead too!

The winery grows its grapes on a four-acre vineyard in Ketchum, Oklahoma and at the main estate in Vinita.

Bistro and gift shop. Open year-round.

Little Cabin Creek Bridge

Currently closed

Cabin Creek Bridge

Little Cabin Creek Bridge, Vanessa Ezekowitz Click image for Street View

US 60 - 69 and Little Cabin Creek, 2 mi. east of town, north side of highway

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

It was built in 1934-5 to carry Route 66 across the Little Cabin Creek. It now carries US 60 & 69. It is located about 1 mile to the southeast of I-44.

It is 388 ft. long and is 24 feet wide between curbs. It consists of 8 steel stringer I-beam approach spans and a central 95-foot Parker Pony Truss.

Head west, cross the freeway and take a short detour to visit an example of Americana:

McDonalds bridge-restaurant

On I-44 and S420Rd.

It is on a tollway but you can see it without having to get onto the Turnpike and pay the toll (see this map with directions it is just 2 mi round trip turn left along S 7th St.)

This "bridge-restaurant" spans the Will Rogers Turnpike (Interstate 44) just south of Vinita. It is known as the Glass House McDonald's.

It surface area of 29,135 sq. ft. (2,706.7 m2) make it the biggest McDonald's in the world.

After being refurbished in 2013, it reopened on Dec. 22, 2014 and was renamed as the "Will Rogers Archway".

McDonalds Glass House, Vinita
Will Rogers Archway, I-44 Vinita Oklahoma, Click on image for Street View

Return to Route 66 by retracing your steps and turn left into Vinita. Route 66 enters the town from the east as E. Illinois Avenue and then takes a left along S. Wilson St. to head out of town.

Just ahead to your right is the former El Rodeo Motel:

Vinita Inn - former El Rodeo motel

598 E Illinois Ave.

The star shaped neon sign is gone, but the building at the back, with its stairs and porch is clearly the same. Now it is an apartment complex.

Vinita Inn

Former motel, now apartments. Click image for street view

Rodeo Motel postcard

Rodeo motel by www.66postcards.com Click image to enlarge

Keep west and ahead, to your left is a Classic eating spot:

Clanton's Cafe

319 E. Illinois, Vinita, Oklahoma. (918) 256-9053. www.clantonscafe.com

It is the longest continually family owned restaurant along the whole of Route 66, and has been operated by four generations of the same family.

Clanton’s Cafe US66 Vinita
Clanton’s Cafe in Vinita Oklahoma, Click on image for Street View

The Cafe opened in 1927 and serves the best of Southern cuisine (burgers, steaks, fried calf and more).

Across the road from it was a classic (now demolished) motel:

Site of the Lewis Motel

Old sign of the Lewis Motel

Old sign of the Lewis Motel -now gone, A. Whittall

On the north side of East Illinois, just across from Clanton's is the old motel's site (it was demolished in 2006) It's sign has gone too.

Continue into town, and at the intersection with Wilson Street, take a left, southwards. This is downtown Vinita. Ahead on your right is a historic hotel:

Hotel Vinita

Historic Vinita Hotel

Historic Hotel Vinita, Abe Ezekowitz, click image for street view

106 West Canadian, Vinita, OK.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The historic hotel was built in 1930 and, unlike previous hotels which were built to cater to the railroad passengers, this one was especially built on Route 66 to serve those traveling down the highway.

Although it may seem a box-like red brick building, its design included elements of the Baroque and Spanish Colonial styles.

.

Further south, to your right is another Historic building:

Randall Tire Company

Historic Randall Tire Co. Vinita

Historic Randall Tire Co. Vinita, Abe Ezekowitz, click image for Street View

237 South Wilson, Vinita, OK.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

It was built in 1931 and has a distinctive facade with irregular stone that gives it a castle-like appearance, with sawtooth parapet and all. Its windows are framed by bricks.

Former location: Spraker Service Station

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

240 South Wilson, now demolished

Across the road from Randall Tire; it was built in the cottage style "Tudor Revival" typical of the Conoco gasoline service stations of the 1920s. It was built in 1927, but was demolished after its listing.

Now come three different styles of gas stations:

Former Texaco Gas station

NW corner of W South Ave. and S Wilson

The design is that of a 1940s Texaco Service Station. It has a two door garage and an glass office. The pumps and canopy are gone it is pictured below (left). Compare it with this Texaco in Joplin MO, also on Route 66.

Old Texaco in Vinita

Old Texaco gas station, Vinita, click for street view

Old service station in Vinita

Old service station, Vinita, click for street view

Old Gas Station

SW corner of W South Ave and South Wilson

Pictured above right, it has a shingled roof over the building and canopy and a rock faced office. The garage had two doors. The pumps island is still standing.

On the next block, to your left is a Classic Gas Station Design:

Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station

SE corner of Excelsior Ave and S Wilson

The building uses the design that in the 1960s, Phillips Petroleum Co. standardized for all of their filling stations across the US. They adopted a "modern" design with a triangular "gull-wing" canopy which was supported at its narrow tip by a pole designed to look like an oil derrick. A Phillips 66 revolving sign stood at the top of the pole.

There are many of them along Route 66: two in Albuquerque NM: Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station and the Albuquerque Gull Wing, there are more of them on Route 66, like the ones in Missouri: Eureka and Hazelgreen and the Tucumcari Phillips Gull Wing and the Santa Fe Gull Wing in NM.

Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station
Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station in Vinita Oklahoma, Click on image for Street View

Route 66 Inn

519 S Wilson St, Vinita

The classic neon sign of this motel is pictured at the top of this page, it is a typical U-shaped motel, formerly the Holiday Motel.

The pool was filled in and its shape can be made out in the grassy area in the central court:

Route 66 Inn, Vinita
Route 66 Inn nowadays, Vinita Oklahoma, Click on image for Street View

The old postcard shows its kitschy Route 66 neon sign and the now gone pool:

Holiday Motel postcard, Vinita
Postcard of the Holiday Motel in Vinita US 66, click on image to enlarge

Also to your right, at the curve on Route 66 is the Relax Inn:

Relax Inn

110 W Dwain Willis Ave. Vinita

This is an "L-shaped" motel formerly known as the Motel Vinita, and it remainns unchanged as you can see in the images below:

You can Book a Room in this motel.

U.S. 66 Relax Inn, Vinita
Relax Inn motel, Vinita. Click on image for Street View
Motel Vinita postcard, Vinita
Postcard of the Motel Vinita. Click on image to enlarge

Old Filing Station

Across the highway, to your left, on the curve is another old gas station with a flat roof canopy, glassed office and a two door (also glassed) garage. There were two separate pump islands. The place is now closed. See picture below left:

Old Gas Station in Vinita

Old Gas station, Vinita. Click for street view

Former Motel in Vinita

Old former Motel, Vinita, click for street view

1926 alignment

The Curve is a later addition to the alignment, the original 1926 road kept straight south along S. Wilson St. (behind the gas station) and then took a sharp -and unsafe- turn right west along Euclid St. We show it in the map above, in black.

Keep west, and to your right is another classic motel:

Park Hills Motel

438415 US-60, Vinita (Map)

Still operating as the Park Hill Motel & RV Park, its vintage postcard shown below says "PARK HILLS MOTEL 20 RCA Refrigerated Units. Thermostatically controlled electric heat TVs-Carpeted Floors-Instant Hot Water Tile Baths - Tubs & Showers Bill & Ruth Patty, Owners Phone 1486J1. 2 Mi. West Vinita"

It is unchanged - see the chimney on the left building, it is stil there.

Park Hills Motel Vinita postcard, Vinita
Postcard of the Park Hills Motel Vinita. Click on image to enlarge
U.S. 66 Park Hills Motel, Vinita
Park Hills Motel, Vinita. Click on image for Street View

Ahead, to your right, is the former Horse Motel:

Western Motel - former Horse Motel

437866 US-60, Vinita

This motel is 3 miles west of Vinita, it used to be the Horse Motel ("We bed-the-man park-the-trailer and barn-the-horse") and has changed a lot, however the door and window layout has remains unchanged:

Horse Motel postcard,Vinita

Horse Motel by www.66postcards.com, click to enlarge

Western Motel in Vinita

Western Motel, Vinita, click for street view

Further west, on the south side of the highway is a former motel:

Old Motel

To your left, on the south side of the highway is an apartment complex (Route 66 Apartments) whose L-shaped design is that of a motel Pictured above (right).

Next to it are some old gas stations and an abandoned restaurant:

Gas station and restaurant complex... Tip Top Court?

old service stastion in Vinita

See the pump islands (red arrows). Click for street view

This is a bit further than the Tip Top Court mentioned by Rittenhouse (two miles west of the town) which had a cafe and gas, but it could be the remains of that classic motel

From east to west are: (1) a garage with two bays and the remains of the concrete base for the filling station's pumps (Street view).

Then comes the restaurant (2), pictured below, in ruins, followed by another gas station (3) with five concrete pump islands (marked in the image with red arrows).

Abandoned Restaurant...

U.S. 66 Abandoned Restaurant, Vinita
Ruins of a Restaurant U.S. 66 Vinita. Click on image for Street View

This is the end of the tour through Vinita. Turn back or keep west towards White Oak

Local Events

Don't miss the two main events:

World's Largest Calf Fry & Cook-Off

The World's Largest Calf Fry Festival is held every year (36th Annual event in 2015).

It began in 1979 and is now sponsored by the the Vinita Area Chamber of Commerce. It is a typical rural and ranching community delicacy.

The highlight is the "calf frying competition" and the beans, salsas, cobblers and breads cook-offs.

Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo

This is a week-long event in memroy of Will Rogers, born in 1879 and killed in a plane crash in 1934. He attended school in Vinita. His death took place two days before a Rodeo in Vinita he was going to attend, so it became a memorial event in his honor.

It consists of an opening parade, the All Settler's Day event and rodeo events including barrel racing, bronc riding, bull riding, roping and more.

Four day passes available. More information at their website: www.willrogersmemorialrodeo.com.

Eastern Trails Museum

215 W. Illinois, Vinita OK.

Exhibits of the early days of Vinita, native artifacts, pioneer's objects. And re-created settings: a post office, general store and doctor's office.

Monday-Friday 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturday 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Admission is free.

Tours & Itineraries

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 15 miles east, at Afton.

Natural Attractions

National & State Parks

Vinita, Oklahoma, combines the prairie and the forested Ozark highlands. It has several areas nearby that are great for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature along the Grand Lake State Park:

Grand Lake State Park

The Grand Lake O' The Cherokees has a surface area of 45,000 acres and boasts 1,300 miles of coastline. The park is known as the "Crappie Capital of the World" and is ideal for swimming, walking and enjoying water activities.

Cherokee Area

16.5 miles southwest of Vinita.

Leave Vinita (mile zero), eastbound along U.S. 60 - 69 (Route 66), towards Afton. When you reach the intersection with OK-82, turn right and follow it till it meets OK-28 north of Langley. Keep south along Hwy 28 and pass the town, head east into the Park.

It is set on the shores of the Grand Lake O' The Cherokees. Great fishing and an ideal place for water sports. There are picnic areas, campsites and RV sites. There are other areas in the park: Riverside, Grand Cherokee and Grand View.

Read more at the official website.

Sources

Official town's website: www.vinita.com

Oklahoma Historical Society Route 66 Mobile Tour Stop List.

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner is the Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, New Mexico; by Perla Eichenblat.