Get Your Kicks on the Ozark Trail

GET YOUR KICKS….ON THE OZARK TRAIL - April 2, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Before Route 66 claimed fame as the Mother Road, early travelers could have easily sang these lyrics: “If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way.  Take the Route that is the best.  You can’t fail on the Ozark Trail.”

Decades before the federal highway system was established and before Bob Troup and Nat King Cole declared that Oklahoma City was ‘mighty pretty,” traffic heading west out of “St. Louee,” and  Joplin, Missouri traveled west through Tulsa to OKC on the Ozark Trail and left Oklahoma City in a southwesterly direction along the Ozark Trail through Chickasha, Anadarko and Hobart on their way to Santa Fe.

Before statehood, private citizens and local communities maintained the trail.

The Ozark Trail Road Association was the first organization of its kind to primarily promote good roads, highway markers and road maps.  In the absence of U.S. Highways and a State Highway System, the Ozark Trail Road fit the bill.

Even if the primary purpose of the organization was making transportation easier, the forethought and progressive mindset promoted tourism and economic development that impacted future generations.

Communities were strengthened and businesses sprang up.  If not for the Trail I would not have ever had an opportunity to drink Chocolate Soldier soft drinks at the Dirty Shame Station along the Ozark Trail south of Carnegie and that WOULD have been a dirty shame.

An interesting and little known fact is that the very first federal highway project in the state of Oklahoma was on the Ozark Trail road and involved the construction of the Ozark Trail Bridge in 1925 across the South Canadian River between Oklahoma City and Newcastle.

Today persons wanting to travel to a city in another state generally map their route using interstate highways.  Travelers have always wanted to travel the best road with the least amount of problems and good roads have always been a boost for economic growth.

The era of westward migration and interstate travel down the Trail has passed.  It would be unusual to see a car with an east coast license plate driving down 11th Street in Hobart on its way to Santa Fe, but safe and adequate roads and bridges remain necessary.

Unfortunately, our state leaders often act as if there is no future.  They legislate like they want to stop thinking about tomorrow.  Their approach to planning is to circle the wagons.

Infrastructure needs like roads, bridges, water, sewer and schools must be the frugal subject of progressive and thoughtful budgeting.  Most organizations have at least a five year plan.  State government should, at a minimum, have a fifty year plan.  That plan should address where we want our state to be in the year 2020 and 2050 as well as 2063.

I don’t necessarily plan on being here in 2050, but I hope that our planning will make our children and grandchildren want to be here.  Oklahoma has so much to offer and right now, your legislators need to hear from you about these things and other concerns like fire protection, the deteriorated condition of the state capitol and the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center in Oklahoma City.

Please call about things that affect your quality of life.  Governor Fallin wants to do the right thing.  Speaker T. W. Shannon is a good person who will listen to you if you call him.  These elected officials need to hear from you rather than from lobbyists and special interest groups.  If you need contact information for any elected official and cannot find it, please call me.

Today, you may not “get your kicks” on the Ozark Trail, but by involving yourself and telling your elected officials to plan for the future and to set those plans in motion is the only way that we can do right by our children and our grandchildren.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a state legislator.  Help me help Oklahoma in a bipartisan way.  If you have any questions or comments, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov