Between Vinita and Claremore, old Route 66 survives in regular use as the “free road” alternative to the I-44 Turnpike, alternating between two-lane and divided four-lane highway.
The most interesting wide spot along this stretch of hallowed road is Foyil, where in the 1940s and 1950s retired fiddle-maker and folk artist Ed Galloway sculpted an outdoor garden of giant totem poles—the tallest is over 90 feet—and other Native American-inspired objects out of concrete. After fading and weathering for many years, the poles, four miles east of town via Hwy-28A, have been restored and maintained as Totem Pole Park (918/342-9149, daily dawn-dusk, free). It’s now a fascinating place to stop for a picnic or to simply admire the effort that went into these “Watts Towers of the Plains.”
Foyil was also the hometown of Andy Payne, the Cherokee youth who in 1928 won the “Bunion Derby,” a coast-to-coast foot race that followed Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago, then headed east to New York City—equivalent to running a marathon and a half every day for the 84 days it took him to finish.