Gene Autry, OK
Sitting just north of Ardmore, to the east of I-35, is a quiet town that boasts unique attractions and a colorful history. Gene Autry is a small community bustling with a lot of charm.
What to Do
The gem of the town is the Gene Autry Museum. The former schoolhouse turned museum features over 10,000 photos and pieces of memorabilia from, of course, the town’s namesake, but also the town’s history, and the entire scope of Hollywood cowboys and girls. Step into the Gene Autry Oklahoma museum and be transported into the good ‘ole days of singing cowboys and trained horses where you can see the largest private B-Western displayed collection in the United States.
The Gene Autry Museum caters to a wide variety of interests. The hundreds of high quality, antique movie posters will entice any movie buff or art connoisseur. The branded toys will take you back to your childhood if you grew up during the time of Gene Autry or any of these cowboys. You will remember playing with them or asking for them on your Christmas wish list.
Room after room of the museum will take you back to a simpler time, when the good guys had a code of honor and values to believe in. Remember TV and movie heroes like Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Annie Oakley, Tex Ritter and dozens more with their clothing, comics, books, costumes and guns. Lose yourself for hours as you imagine yourself in the years of your childhood, or that golden time in TV and American history.
Gene Autry, Oklahoma, has one of the most recognizable names in the state, but many people don’t know the history that has brought it to the small-town, historical oasis that it is. The town began inauspiciously, with just a store in the middle of the Chickasaw Nation in the 1870s. In 1883, we have record of the first post office being established, designating the town as Lou, after the founder’s wife. However, 6 months later at the insistence of Lou, the town was renamed Dresden. When the Santa Fe railroad went close to but not quite through the town, residents relocated slightly and called the new location Berwyn.
Berwyn grew as a farming community through the early 20th century, peaking during World War I with a population of over 400.
A course-altering event happened in 1940, when famous singing cowboy Gene Autry bought his 1200-acre Flying A Ranch adjacent to Berwyn. At this time in American history, Gene Autry embodied what America wanted to be. He appeared in dozens of movies, as well as his famous TV show. His songs, including “Back in the Saddle Again” and “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer,” are still part of our pop culture fabric.
Another proud son of Gene Autry is George Telford. You may not recognize his name, but his legacy is felt throughout much of the country, especially the region of south-central Oklahoma. Telford is considered by many to be the grandfather of Professional Bull Riding. He saw a need in rodeos to fairly treat and compensate those brave souls who rode on bucking bulls, and paved the way to what became the PBR (Professional Bull Riders).