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Hell Raising Stroud,
Founded in 1892 and named for trader
James Stroud, this small town began by selling whiskey to the many
cowboys and travelers escaping nearby "dry”
Indian Territory. Thirsty for a drink, the town soon boasted nine saloons and became a
wild "hell-raising” town, as cattlemen relaxed after days on the range
with their herds. Stroud’s
wild party days soon came to an end when
Statehood forced the town "dry” in 1907.
Though its wild party days might
have been over, Stroud
had not yet seen the
end of its
West days. On March 27, 1915, Stroud became the victim of
one of the last
outlaw robberies in
Henry Starr, chose two of the
towns banks for a historic double daylight heist.
Starr when still a young man.This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Henry Starr, along with
six other men, decided to rob two banks at the same time, much as
Dalton Gang had unsuccessfully tried to do in Coffeyville,
Kansas in 1892. The
Oklahoma robbery would prove almost as disastrous for
Henry Starr. Proceeding to rob the Stroud National Bank and
the First National Bank, word of the holdup spread quickly and the
citizens took up arms against the bandits.
Henry and another
outlaw named Lewis Estes were wounded and captured in the gun
battle. The rest of the gang escaped with $5815, thus pulling off
a double daylight bank robbery.
was tried and sentenced for the robbery and transferred to the
Penitentiary at McAlester.
However, just four years later he was paroled. In February,
died as he had lived, in a violent
manner, after having been shot during a robbery in
Finally, Stroud settled down to a sleepy little town that
made its living primarily from agriculture and oil. However, when
came through town,
Stroud responded like hundreds of other small
towns, with services popping up which provided all manner of amenities to
the many travelers of the
One such business that still thrives
today is the Rock Café, a
Route 66 icon. The café, an inspiration of
a man named Roy Rieves, began in 1936. After Roy had saved his money
for most of his life, he spent his retirement by starting the popular
restaurant when he bought several business lots skirting the city limits
At the time,
Route 66 was finishing pavement in a nationwide
effort to connect the east coast to the west coast and business was
booming along the highway. Roy built the café almost single-handedly
over the next three years, using the very rocks removed from the old road
Finally finished, the
Rock Café opened on August 4, 1939, run by Miss Thelma Holloway and was an
instant success. Before long, the café became a Greyhound bus stop,
bringing even more travelers into the successful restaurant.
Though Roy retained ownership of the building,
he never ran the café, which had a series of managers over the years until
1959 when Mamie Mayfield began to run the restaurant. Keeping the
café open 24 hours a day, Mamie ran the business for almost 25 years.
However, by the early 1980's business had declined badly with the coming
of the Turner Turnpike and Mamie was nearing the age of 70. Finally
in 1983, she closed the Rock Café.
The Rock Cafe still caters to travelers along
today, May, 2004, Kathy Weiser
The Rock Cafe burned in May, 2008, photo by Eric Jones,
Now listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, the Rock Cafe was revived in 1993 by Dawn Welch and is
still serving home cooking to Route 66 travelers today. The only hiccup in
its long tenure was from May 2008 to May 2009, when a fire gutted the
structure except for its rock walls. However, Welch hired a historically
minded contractor who rebuilt the restaurant, better than ever.
Welch also served as the inspiration to the Sally Carrera character in the
2006 Disney-Pixar animated movie "Cars." A crew from Pixar, researching
Route 66 for the film in 2001, stopped for dinner at the Rock Cafe and met
While in Stroud, you can also see the Skyliner Motel at
717 N Main Street (Route
66) as well as a number of historical buildings
including the Graham Hotel at Main and 2nd Avenue, the Hotel
Lincoln at 232 Main, and the James W.
Stroud House at 110 East 2nd Avenue.
Nearby, Stroud Lake offers camping, boat ramps, swimming
and riding trails.
Stroud Lake is three miles north of
Stroud on Highway 99, then three miles east on
the Lake Road.
Just about seven more miles down the highway
you will come to the small town of Davenport, first settled in the second
great land run in 1891. The town saw another rush in 1924 when oil
was discovered but has primarily remained a quiet community over the
years. Davenport’s Main Street is still lined with brick made from a
local brick plant that ceased operations in the 1930's. While in this
quaint little town, grave a bite to eat at Dan’s Bar-b-que or Gar Wooly’s