Stretching only 34 miles, the portion of U.S. Route 83 that traverses
the Oklahoma Panhandle doesn’t have much to offer tourists. Just some big sky country and a couple wide spots on the road where travelers can
gas up or grab a bite to eat. It has been designated the Oklahoma
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
There’s nothing better an old-fashioned
highway diner where travelers can sit down and have a meal brought to
them by a friendly and chatty waitress. Miller’s Café in Turpin has all
the usual road grub and daily specials. As the photo shows, it’s a
favorite of the local oil well workers.
The unincorporated town of Turpin is the
community on the 34 miles of Highway 83 in the panhandle. It has a
structure, the Turpin Grain Elevator, which is on the National Register
of Historic Places. The elevator is found along the old railroad tracks
near the modern elevators on the north side of town.
Bryan's Corner isn't quite a town, but it has been a famous wide spot on the road for truckers heading north or south or to Denver before there was even a federal highway system. There are a variety of businesses that cater to truckers along with a post office and a busy gas station.
No Man’s Land
While the Oklahoma Panhandle might be short of sights, it is not short of history. This marker just over the Texas-OK border explains the story of “No Man’s Land,” the strip of territory no state wanted. For years, it served as a haven for outlaws and vigilantes. The long, convoluted history of the land once called Cimmaron Territory is too long for this page. A good rundown can be found on the Wikipedia Entry found here.
This was also “ground zero” for the Dust Bowl. So grab a copy of Woody Guthrie’s “Dust Bowl Ballads,” stick it in the CD player and get off the beaten path to see some beautiful, wide-open spaces.
Learn more about the history and sites to see along U.S. 83 in The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: The Dakotas and the second edition, Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma.
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Content copyright . Stew Magnuson. All rights reserved.