Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park
The Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park is one of the most popular and important attractions in NE Oklahoma. The Park features a 90 foot totem pole that towers over a vivid array of colorful folk art. Claiming the title of Words Largest Concrete Totem Pole, and found just off of Historic Route 66, the park has been recognized as one of the premiere examples of Folk Art in the United States.
The park is owned and operated by the Non-profit Rogers County Historical Society. Operations and maintenance of the park are funded solely by visitor donations and gift shop sales. It is free to the public and open all daylight hours. The Museum/Gift Shop is open 12:00 – 5:00 seven days a week. The park is located about 4 miles East of Foyil on Hwy 28A.
Totem Pole Restoration
A major project is underway to restore the large Totem Pole. Paint has weathered away from the upper part of the totem, and the concrete is starting to deteriorate. It is important to begin work on the totem as soon as possible, so that we can ensure that this important folk art relic will be around for many more generations. As the park is on the National Register of Historic Places, it must be restored as near as possible to its original condition. This is why this project is such a time-sensitive matter. We must prevent more deterioration. The crumbling concrete and paint inevitably will weaken the concrete structure, as well as lose significant information about the 200 detailed designs found completely covering the totem structure.
Restoration is scheduled to begin in early July 2015. The work will be done by two artists who are experienced in large project restorations. The work will require large lift equipment needed to reach the 90 foot height of the totem pole, high quality sealant, paint, and tedious attention to detail. We have nearly two-thirds of the finances necessary for the project. We are asking you to help us raise the remainder so that we can finish this incredibly important work.
Ed Galloway and the History of the Totem Pole Park
Nathan Edward Galloway was born in 1880 in Missouri and developed his carving skills as a child, creating mother-of-pearl buttons and small wooden items. He served in the U.S. Army during the Phillippine-American War lasting until 1902. During this time he was introduced to Japanese and Far Eastern Art while stationed in the Phillippine Islands. After the war he returned to Missouri, where he began to create massive sculptures from tree trunks. He incorporated human figures, fish, and reptiles into these pieces. After marrying his wife Villie, they finally settled in Foyil, Oklahoma, where the totem pole park is found to this day, right off of historic Route 66.
Ed Galloway built the totem pole, rising from the back of an enormous turtle, over an 11-year period, from 1937 to 1948, as his 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 totem features 200 carved images, with four nine-foot Indians near the top representing different tribes. The park also features Galloway’s eleven-sided "Fiddle House", four smaller concrete totems, two ornate concrete picnic tables with animal-form seats, a barbecue, and four sets of animal-form gateposts.
Ed Galloway's mission maintains the spirit of the park, "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."
Previous Restorations on the Totem
In the decades following Galloway’s death, all the sculptures began to deteriorate from weather and neglect. In the 1990s, an extensive restoration effort was spearheaded by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association. The outdoor sculptures were restored and repainted, and the Fiddle House was brought back from the brink of collapse and transformed into the Fiddle House Museum and Gift Shop. The KGAA had reconstructed the color scheme based on the paint found on the inside structures at the Totem Pole Park. They used two coats of exterior house paint. Since this restoration, the structure has started to deteriorate again. We are now working in close contact with paint specialists to ensure that the highest quality paint, and the best concrete sealant is used, to ensure an even longer lasting exterior painting condition.
Risks and challenges
The restoration conversation began one year ago between the volunteer Directors of the Totem Pole, David and Patsy Anderson, the Rogers County Historical Society, and the artists involved in the Restoration, Margo Hoover and Erin Turner. We have worked hard over the last year to develop a timeline and strategize how best to tackle this very large and detailed project. Due to the dedication of all parties involved, we are very confident in the execution of the scope of this project. We have engaged the local community to ensure that they are dedicated as well to the endeavor, and have had many generous donations from amazing people and organizations such as the Rogers County Commissioner, and the Cherokee Nation. We look forward to including more amazing people like you, to the list of generous donors of this truly important community project.
Other obstacles we have accounted for include:
Oklahoma is a state with very fickle weather conditions. We have made sure to chose a month of the year (July) with very little rainfall conditions. It is necessary that the concrete structure be completely dry during all painting efforts. We have accounted for at least a month-long period of time for restoration, which will give us some buffer time in case of rainfall, thunderstorms, or severe wind conditions.
Due to the high temperatures of Oklahoma July, we will be waking with the sun to work, taking a break during the most intense sun, and returning in the late afternoon.
Due to the equipment necessary to reach such a height, only two people are able to be on the aerial lift platform. We have accounted for this fact, and attributed it to our timeline of how long the restoration project will last.
Lastly we want to say thank you for any and all contributions. We appreciate each and every one of you.
Much thanks to David Anderson, Margo Hoover, Erin Turner, Grant McClintock, Wendy Ford, and Jacob Lincoln for producing, shooting and editing the video to make this Kickstarter happen in the first place.
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