Afton, Oklahoma, established in 1886. was named by a Scottish railroad surveyor for his daughter, who was named after the River Afton in Scotland, made famous by Robert Burn’s poem.
Beginning as a farming community, the agriculture thrived in the rich, black soil along Horse Creek. Further prosperity came to the town when Route 66 barreled through the community. Soon service stations and motor courts popped up to serve the many travelers along the Mother Road.
However, when the I-44 replaced Route 66 it took a drastic toll upon the community and today, visiting Afton feels as you’ve taken a step back in time.
Once Afton provided one of the most popular tourist stops along the Mother Road – that of the Buffalo Ranch, which included not only buffalo, but llamas, yaks, a petting zoo and barbeque. Torn down in 1997, this once popular Route 66 destination now is home to the Buffalo Ranch Travel Center convenience store. Nothing of the original complex remains, but the new owners occasionally keep a buffalo or two on the premises as an homage to its past.
However, Afton provides a number of photographic opportunities in its historic architecture, vintage gas stations and fading auto courts. As you first enter town you will see the remains of the old Rest Haven Motel where many a weary Route 66 traveler once laid their heads.
Across the street is an old DX Service station which has been preserved by Laurel Kane, a long time Route 66 enthusiast, and now serves as a visitor center to today’s Mother Road travelers.
As you continue through this small town, other old buildings housing closed businesses, speak loudly of more prosperous days. Many of these old structures predate Route 66. At the western edge of town sits another faded and lonely auto court.
Just eight miles southwest of Afton along Highway 59, a wonderful side trip presents itself at Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees.
The lake’s 46,500 surface acres of water are ideal for boating, skiing, fishing, swimming and sailing. Across the lake in Grove, Oklahoma is the site of Har-Ber Village, one of the largest antique museums in the United States. This reconstructed turn-of-the century village contains over one hundred buildings and a collection of thousands of items representing America’s past.
Continue your travel along the Mother Road to Vinita, Oklahoma, the crossroads of America.