Features

The Legacy of Dr. Ghazi Rayan

By Paul Fairchild

 

INTEGRIS Baptist’s Dr. Ghazi Rayan knows history as well as orthopedics. Describing his native Lebanon, he excitedly points out its heritage as the Mediterranean anchor of the Phoenician Empire. Alexandria, Egypt, isn’t just the home of his alma mater, Alexandria University, he cheerfully notes. It takes its name from its illustrious founder, Alexander the Great. So it comes as no surprise that Rayan, an accomplished surgeon, teacher and researcher, sees his own work through a historical lens. His work in Oklahoma is poised to leave a global legacy.

 

DrGRayan03_RT8“Through his teaching, Rayan’s become one of the most important contributors [at Baptist]. That’s true generally, but also specifically with his topic of interest, hand surgery. He’s one of the nation’s best,” says longtime colleague and cardiologist Sandy Sanbar.

 

Rayan’s long journey to Oklahoma City and INTEGRIS Baptist started half a world away. Born underneath the sun-drenched skies of Beirut, Lebanon, he spent his childhood there before attending college in Egypt. He has fond memories of his first home, a beautiful seaport on the eastern Mediterranean. His parents, a businessman and a homemaker, gave him eight brothers and sisters to enjoy. Family life and school kept him busy, but even as a child he was curiously eyeballing his future.

 

“I was 10 years old when I decided to be a surgeon. Not just a physician … a surgeon. A friend of our family, a surgeon who trained in Germany, told stories about helping people. I said to myself, ‘this is what I want to do. I want to help people, possibly even save lives,’” he recalls.

 

He never drifted from that desire, and when it came time for college, he packed up and shipped out to Alexandria, Egypt, another coastal paradise on the Mediterranean. Alexandria University offered an excellent college education, but was also home to the best medical school in the Middle East. It was here that he first heard of the land that would later become his new home: Oklahoma.

 

“Oklahoma was a familiar name for me in the early days of my internship in Egypt. I heard of a knee injury that was documented by Dr. Don O’Donoghue, an Oklahoma surgeon who later became the father of sports medicine. Doing my due diligence, I discovered that Oklahoma City was a well-kept secret. It’s a great place for raising children and has outstanding opportunities for advancing the professional careers of young people like myself at that time,” he says.

 

While in medical school, he fell in love with orthopedics, doing two orthopedic rotations in local hospitals. The surgeries captivated him, and the differences that orthopedic surgeons made in their patients’ lives kept him in a state of constant amazement. Rayan loved – and still loves – challenges of any sort, but orthopedics promised constant challenges of the intellectual kind. As he grew more familiar with the field, Rayan felt that he stood at the gates of a thinker’s playground.

 

As with all life decisions, there were other things for Rayan to consider. Wanting to walk through the gates of his new playground, he searched for a place where he could pursue his fascination and curiosity. It was clear that maintaining an orthopedic practice alone wouldn’t satisfy him intellectually. He also wanted access to the best postgraduate education, facilities and equipment. Lebanon offered no options, and the country’s civil war, a brutal and disruptive ordeal that would last until the early 1990s, was heating up. In a successful bid to marry his passion with career needs, he again relocated, this time to Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, home of the oldest – and one of the most prestigious – residency programs in the U.S.

 

DSCN6743While there, he put a finer point on his interest in orthopedics, and in 1980s landed a highly competitive and coveted fellowship at the Raymond Curtis Hand Center. He improved his surgical skills and indefatigably chased his research interests. He worked side by side with the best of the best in the field, and his academic genealogy impresses. His own mentor trained with Sterling Bunnell, the doctor responsible for putting hand surgery on the medical map after World War II.

 

The human hand contains 27 bones and countless muscles and nerves. The hand is an amazing anatomical machine, optimized in structure and configuration for the performance of the most delicate tasks, and it’s no surprise that surgery on the hand requires a certain delicacy. Specifically, it requires microsurgery, performed under a microscope with infinitesimally small instruments. As a director of INTEGRIS Baptist’s Hand Microsurgery Center and later a chairman of Baptist Medical Center’s hand surgery division, Rayan championed the adoption of cutting-edge microsurgical techniques – and the introduction of all the fun toys they required. His own microsurgical skills came in handy when he collaborated with other Oklahoma doctors to perform the state’s first live liver donor transplant.

 

After completing his postgraduate work, it was obvious to Rayan that textbooks and lectures only go so far in the creation of an excellent hand surgeon. Becoming a superior hand surgeon demanded the opportunity to practice side by side with superior teachers. He’s quick to mention the debt he owes to the doctors who showed him the ropes, and developed a personal mission to pay that debt forward and give future medical students opportunities similar to the ones he had enjoyed.

 

DSCN1204Rayan felt like he’d hit the lottery in 1981, when a spot for a professor of orthopedics opened up at the University of Oklahoma. At last he’d found his ticket to Oklahoma. The school was a good fit for him, and as a professor he eagerly engaged his students, always wanting to provide them with the same types of learning opportunities he had received years earlier. He still provides those opportunities, working with O.U.’s College of Medicine in a variety of capacities. His research moved along at a steady clip, and he regularly published articles in high-end medical journals. To date, he has contributed almost 200 articles to the best orthopedic and sports medicine journals.

 

In 1987, Rayan joined the staff of INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, where he still practices, and consults in the emergency room, along with continuing to teach at O.U. He sees roughly 18 patients each day, and speculates that over the course of his career he has seen over 20,000 patients. He’s looking forward to seeing 20,000 more, but research is still near and dear to his heart. Baptist Medical Center gave him the opportunity to practice, teach and research. With enthusiastic help from the hospital, he established Oklahoma’s first hand surgery fellowship in 1992.

 

“After approximately eight years of being on the full-time faculty at O.U., I decided to move to INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. Now, INTEGRIS was, and still is today, considered to be an outstanding facility that embraced talented physicians. The leadership there and the potential for expanding research and education were irresistible for me. And they offered all of the support I needed to establish a hand surgery fellowship program while I also continued my medical research,” he says.

 

With so many achievements to choose from, Rayan hesitates a bit before naming the one he’s most proud of. He should! He was a principal in Oklahoma’s first live liver transplant; as a professor and founder of a fellowship program, he has left his mark on a generation of orthopedic surgeons; the surgeries he has performed have improved the lives of thousands. He insists, however, that he’s most proud of the establishment of Baptist Medical’s Oklahoma Hand Surgery Fellowship. At any given time, Baptist Medical hosts two orthopedic surgeons – often from points as far away as Oman and China – interested in the arts of healing the hands. Rayan has trained 32 doctors through the program.

 

“The program has an impact not just on people in Oklahoma City, but around the world. Mentors live through their apprentices. The students we teach are our intellectual progeny. Each one is a seed of knowledge, and when it grows, it benefits many. It’s the difference between giving somebody a fish and teaching them how to fish,” he notes.

 

And that, Rayan knows, will one day be his legacy.

What to Know About Preventing Colorectal Cancer

By David Althouse

 

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths

for men and women combined. Regular screenings and maintaining a

healthy lifestyle are the keys to preventing colorectal cancer from developing.

 

 

 “We found a cancerous polyp in your colon.”

Cancer Cell

I have personally experienced the terrifying effect of hearing those words uttered from a gastroenterologist who had, several days before, performed my third colorectal screening, or colonoscopy.

 

I knew this cancer ran in my family, as it had already claimed a brother some years previously. It took the loss of a loved one to motivate me and other family members to begin regularly scheduled colorectal screenings.

 

Despite the fact that this cancer runs in my family, and despite the fact that the polyp found in my body had already transformed into the cancerous stage, I am here today because of a timely screening in January 2011.

 

While the chances are small that you carry a similar genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer, the fact remains that this cancer remains the second-leading cancer killer of men and women combined in the United States.

 

If current trends continue, one in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer over the course of his or her lifetime, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

 

Screening, which is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease, is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. In many cases, regular screening can prevent colorectal cancer altogether, as most polyps can be found and removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Regular screenings can also identify colorectal cancer early, when it is highly curable.

 

First Prostate ExamThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular screening, beginning at age 50, to prevent colorectal cancer. The U.S. Prevention Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy beginning at age 50 years and continuing until age 75.

 

You may need to begin screenings much earlier if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; if you have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis; or if you have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

 

If you have a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, consult with your doctor about genetic counseling to review your family medical tree and to determine how likely it is that you have one of these syndromes, and discuss if genetic testing is something you should pursue. This can help you decide to begin taking measures against colorectal cancer, like getting screened and treated at an early age.

 

Regardless of your family medical history, consult your doctor to determine when you should have your first colonoscopy and how often you should have them moving forward.

 

Take the word of someone who is here today because of a well-timed colonoscopy – get checked!

 

In addition to regular screenings, there are numerous lifestyle measures that can minimize the likelihood of colorectal cancer developing in your body.

 

In February 2012, the AICRcited recent research showing Americans can prevent tens of thousands of such cancers through what we eat, how much we weigh, and how much we move.

 

“Research now shows that 45 percent of colorectal cancers in the United States are preventable each year through diet, staying a healthy weight, and being physically active,” said AICR Registered Dietitian Alice Bender. “That’s about 64,000 cases every year.”

 

These recommendations stem from AICR and World Cancer Research Fund’s 2010 Continuous Update Project Report, the most comprehensive account ever published on the link between cancer risk and lifestyle.

 

“Shifting into these healthy habits isn’t easy, but there are concrete steps you can take now to reduce your risk for colorectal and many other cancers,” Bender said.

 

The CUP report lists six recommendations.

 

Doctor Consulting A Bowel RadiographyFit activity into your day

Recent reports find that moderate physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer. Find ten minutes a day to move. Whether taking a break at work or whilewatching television, you can jog in place, walk the stairs, or perform push-ups. Build on that over time by extending the duration of these mini workouts.

 

Maintain a healthy weight and fight belly fat

One of the key findings from the CUP report is that excess body fat is linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. The report also concludes that carrying excess belly fat – regardless of your weight – is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Fight belly fat by becoming portion-size savvy. Choose smaller portions of calorie-packed foods like meat, cheese, juice and nuts. Limit desserts and sweets to two or three times per week in small amounts.

 

Eat plenty of fiber

Today, the evidence is clearer than ever: eating a high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily – slightly less than a cup of beans – the risk of colorectal cancer is reduced by 10 percent. Fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts, and no more than one-third with animal protein such as poultry or lean red meat.

 

Cut the red meat; avoid the processed

The latest CUP finding reaffirms earlier evidence that eating too much red meat and processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The report shows that, ounce for ounce, consuming processed meat increases the risk twice as much as consuming red meat. Processed meats include hot dogs, bacon, sausage and deli meats. Limit red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week – roughly the equivalent of five or six small cooked portions of beef, lamb or pork – and avoid processed meat. For sandwiches, incorporate chicken breast, hummus or peanut butter into your diet.

 

colon cancerConsume alcohol in moderation

The CUP report finds convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases colorectal cancer risk in men, and it probably increases the risk in women. The report advises: If you don’t drink, don’t start. For those who already drink, limit the alcohol to no more than two standard drinks daily for men, one for women.Be aware of how much a standard drink is by measuring the following amounts and pouring it into your glassware: 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of liquor.

 

Eat plenty of garlic

The CUP report judgment of evidence suggests that a diet filled with relatively high amounts of garlic reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Add chopped garlic to stews, roasted meats, stir fries and vegetables. Chop the garlic, then wait 10 to 15 minutes before cooking in order to activate the health-promoting ingredients.

 

Other studies suggest that vitamin D – normally found in sun exposure, certain foods, or in a vitamin pill – can lower colorectal cancer risk. Because excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancer, many experts do not recommend this as a way to lower colorectal cancer risk. This writer takes vitamin D daily in the form of a vitamin pill.

 

Take it from someone whose family has experienced the horrific consequences of colorectal cancer caught too late: take good care of yourself, and get screened!

 

For more information about colorectal cancer prevention, visit the website of the American Institute of Cancer Research at www.aicr.org.

 

CHRISTIAN KANE POURS HIS HEAR AND SOUL INTO “50 to 1”

By Paul Fairchild

 

“50 to 1″ isn’t just the title of Christian Kane’s new film. Those are the odds that the pros would have given the Norman native when he left Oklahoma to pursue a career in Hollywood. He beat the odds not once, but twice, becoming a critically acclaimed actor and country rock singer.

 

WR_07390The movie is not a blockbuster, and it was never intended to be. The film opened March 23 on only 19 screens across the country. At first glance, its first week’s box office take of $165,000 looks anemic; but that’s a strong opening for a limited release, and portends good things for the film’s recent wider release.

 

Numbers, however, only tell part of the story. What matters to Kane and crew are the reactions of audiences when the credits roll.

 

“People jumped up applauding at the end of the film. I haven’t seen that happen in a long time,” said Kane. “We snuck into some theaters in New Mexico and sat in the back – the audiences didn’t know we were there. It was the same response in all four theaters we went to. People were clapping at the end of the movie. I’ve never had that happen. That right there touched us.”

 

The film chronicles the Cinderella story of Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner that simply wasn’t supposed to win. In the telling, audiences meet Mine That Bird’s owner, Mark Allen (played by Kane) and his trainer, Chip Woolley (Skeet Ulrich). The heart and soul of the film is their story, a saga of long bets, an unlikely friendship, and a shared passion for winning.

 

IMG_2574.CR2“You know the horse’s story. You’ve seen the race. We’re not trying to fool anybody. The horse wins. The film is about what you didn’t know – the story of these cowboys that were 50 to 1, as well,” said Kane.

 

It’s tempting to say that at the beginning of his career, Kane never would have imagined himself ten years later starring in a feature film, that he would have been happy with lesser roles and waiting tables in-between gigs. To do that, though, requires a fundamental misunderstanding of him and his underdog modus operandi.

 

Kane’s father was an oil worker, and the family followed the oil, crisscrossing Texas and Oklahoma, going wherever the work took them. Before settling in Norman, Oklahoma, Kane drifted on a river of new places and faces, back then changing schools and friends faster than he changes wardrobes on set these days.

 

“I was always the new kid at school. I’ve got to be honest with you – I got beat up a lot. I’d go to movies on the weekends. The movies became my friends. I knew at a really young age that this is what I wanted to do,” he recalls.

 

After experimenting with art history and marketing (as well as beer and women, Kane remembers) at O.U., he came back to acting. Taking a wild chance, he headed out to Hollywood with nothing more than clothes, a stereo, a little bit of cash and the truck he drove.

 

On arrival, he surveyed Hollywood’s perennial crowd of almost-actors waiting for their big opportunity and made a simple, precise decision: waiting is for suckers. He walked into influential star shop Banner Entertainment and made a pitch its people hadn’t heard before: he traded script deliveries for representation. It paid off, and in 1997 he landed a lead role on MGM’s “Fame: L.A.”

 

Money isn’t the only thing that talks in Hollywood. Talent has a voice, too. While the show folded after only two seasons, Kane’s performances as both an actor and a singer generated serious word of mouth. He landed a recurring role on the spectacularly popular “Angel” (where he met his best friend, David Boreanaz) as fan-favorite dirtbag lawyer Lindsey McDonald, attorney for the dead and the damned.

 

Today, Kane’s best known as the hard-hitting, no-holds-barred Eliot Spencer on TNT’s “Leverage.” Fans saw some of the best action sequences on television, in large part due to Kane’s enthusiasm for performing his own stunts. A few bumps and bruises sent him to the hospital now and then, but for him it was just part of the fun.

 

IMG_9833.CR2Cowboy culture was new to most of the cast of “50 to 1,” but not to Kane, still an Oklahoma boy at heart. His familiarity with the scene – and his natural similarity to Mark Allen – freed up acting energy that he funneled into other dimensions of the story. It didn’t hurt that Kane’s longtime friend, Skeet Ulrich, played Chip Woolley, Allen’s partner in crime. The two met over a decade ago while filming Steven Spielberg’s “Into the West.”

 

“I’m from Oklahoma and Mark’s from New Mexico, and we’ve both been in our fair share of bar fights. We get along really well. It was great for me because I didn’t have to find that character. I didn’t have to put on a mask to play Allen. All I had to do was put on a black cowboy hat and I felt right at home. I could concentrate on the emotion of the film as opposed to trying to fit into a character everyday. It was a walk in the park for me to play a guy like this because I grew up with him. I knew him. I was him,” said Kane.

 

Kane’s love for all things western extends to music, as well. A longtime country fan, Kane’s been writing and performing music since his O.U. days. When he began performing in Los Angeles, fans loved his sound and his electric performances, regularly packing popular venues like the Viper Room.

 

2010 witnessed the release of Kane’s first LP, “The House Rules.” It immediately took the top spot on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and reached the number three spot on the iTunes Country chart. Kane wrote “Happy Man” for Tim McGraw’s hit album, “Cowboy’s Back In Town,” and that year he also toured with Brooks & Dunn. That was also the year that Kane realized Nashville might not be the right place for his music.

 

IMG_0618.CR2“We grew up playing music in the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard,” he said. “Yes, it was country, but we had to rock out in the Viper Room. There’s going to be a lot of rock on the next album. I’m doing music for me, now. I’m not doing music for Nashville. They didn’t like me because I’m an actor. They have no problem rolling out the red carpet for Tim McGraw when he does a movie, but they didn’t want actors coming in and stealing spots from those guys.”

 

While working on his next album (“It will have an Oklahoma vibe,” he insists), Kane will also open the next chapter in his television career. TNT’s “Librarians,” based on the Noah Wyle one-offs of the same name, begins filming this fall, with Kane in a lead role. Until then, Kane hopes his fans (particularly the self-proclaimed “Kaniacs”) enjoy “50 To 1.”

 

The “50 to 1″ bus tour – the first of its kind – came to Oklahoma April 7. Film fans crowded the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Eskimo Joe’s and other popular spots to meet the film’s cast and crew. It was an opportunity, says Kane, to say thank-you to the fans.

 

“We appreciate it. I think when they make a big Hollywood movie, most people don’t care about the fans. They sit back in L.A. and they pray for the best. They send it out into the world, and then it’s all about money,” he said. “That’s not us. We made this for the people. We made this to tell the story of Mine That Bird. I don’t know if we’ll make money off of this. But we’re out here because we believe in it, and we want to get it to the people of Oklahoma. These are my folks. These are people with heart, and I really believe that they’ll appreciate the job we tried to do.”

Hair and Makeup Styles for the Maturing Woman

By Heather Rouba

 

Beautiful smiling woman portrait on white backgroundAs women mature, there is always the question of how to gracefully change hair and makeup styles to keep them looking young yet age appropriate. Surprisingly, the answers are very simple: Less is more! But there are always key tricks to implement along the way. We have done our research, and spoken with some of the most talented hair and makeup artists in Oklahoma to help educate us on ways to keep up with the trends, while at the same time staying timeless.

 

Makeup

Makeup artist Chelsey Cobbs, owner of Chelsey Ann Artistry, shared some of the latest makeup trends with us. She says, “Current makeup trends include the fresh face look. This season,it’s less about contouring and more about glowing skin. Bright lip colors are popular, but not the perfected ones. It’s more of a just-bitten look. Also, brows are definitely here to stay.”

 

Cobbs suggests that as women age, it’s important to “be mindful of your trends. Stay within your makeup style, but don’t be afraid to try a new trend if it stays within the style you have been defining. Keep the sparkle off your lips, ladies. Save that for the new 20s girls.” She also adds that her “best advice to stay looking younger is to drop all of the powders. Nothing says youthful more than glowing skin. Pack on the moisture, from foundation to cream blush. Stay away from mattes. Invest in a good face oil that you can put right over your makeup throughout the day.”

 

dreamstime_xxl_22466443There are some aging issues women face as they get older that are easy to mask with the right makeup or skincare application. Around age 40, skin cell turnover starts to slow down, thickening the surface layer. Adding a pop of color to the apples of your cheeks can add a youthful glow. Choose a sheer cream or gel blush in a peach or pink tone for light to medium skin, or honey or caramel for dark skin. The cream or gel adds moisture. Dab it onto the apples of your cheeks and blend in with your fingers.

 

Sun damage starts to shine through around the 30s, often in the form of dark splotches. To even the skin tone, full-coverage foundation in a shade that matches the dark spots will help mask that. Be sure to lighten the foundation around the jawline and chin area so you can blend the color easily into your neck.

Even the best-protected skin starts to lose elasticity and firmness as women age because collagen and elastin production start to slow down. As a result, the features can start to sag. The best nonsurgical way to compensate is to use bronzer as a contouring aid. Sweep a light to medium shade under the full length of each cheekbone, which lifts and defines the face.

In an attempt to mask exhaustion, women tend to overcompensate with a too-light concealer that shines a big spotlight on dark circles instead of hiding them. Choose a concealer color that matches your foundation. Start at the inner corner of your eye and dab dots under your bottom lash line until you hit the middle, then pat gently with your finger to blend. To open the eye area and look more alert and refreshed, highlight your brow bones with a champagne hue for light skin tones, or a bronze shade for darker skin tones.

Collagen production, which startsto get sluggish in your 30s, slows to a snail’s pace in your 40s, causing your eyelids to lose elasticity and droop. Full lashes lift the whole eye area and compensate for the diminishing visibility of the lid. Add depth by smudging a subtle brown liner along your lash base.

 

Lips lose not only fullness now, but also color. As your lips deflate, the corners turn in a bit, so people see less of your lips and more of the surrounding skin. To add color and define your lips, be sure that the lip color you are using extends to the actual size of your lips. A coat of sheer gloss or balm over the lip color will add a fresh touch.

 

hair salonHair

Finding the perfect transitional hairstyle is always a challenge. We spoke with stylist Brenton Cooke,owner of Salon Avignon, to get his opinion on how women can be aware of what is current, yet age appropriate. According to Cooke, today’s trends feature “long, beachy, loose waves or a short crop like Jennifer Lawrence or Julianne Hough. For color, people seem to be gravitating away from highlights and more toward all-over vibrancy and tone. He also suggests all variations of bobs, since they flatter so many different face shapes. The bob is such a great choice for women who want to look chic without a lot of maintenance. Almost any hair texture or face shape can carry a bob. Chin-length bobs are great for petite and angular face shapes. The classic shoulder-length cut is also a big trend right now. It’s easy to maintain, and the styling options are endless.

 

Truly, the theme of “less is more” applies to makeup and hair as women age. Less styled …  more natural. Hair that is too styled can make you look dated. Even if you wear a shorter cut, instead of doing a spikey style, do longer layers within the cut to make it look more natural.

 

As women begin to age, they often think they need to cut their hair short or go for a “mom” style. However, Cooke states, “I personally don’t believe that simply because a woman is of a certain age, she has to keep her hair short. As long as the cut flatters the shape of her face and doesn’t weigh down her features, and the color accentuates her complexion rather than clashes, age doesn’t matter. I find that so many women think their hair should get shorter and lighter as they age, and that is not at all true.”

 

Beauty with perfect natural makeup look and long hair

It’s important to take good care of your hair as you age, since it tends to get more brittle and less elastic. Cooke recommends that women “wash their hair 2-4 times a week depending on the style and texture of the hair. For long hair, one to two deep conditioning treatments each month will help keep the ends, or the oldest part of the hair, looking soft, shiny and alive. For shorter styles, specialty treatments can be applied when needed since the hair is usually cut before it suffers too much wear.”

 

Women are sometimes confused about how often they need a cut. Cooke suggests that, “depending on hair length and style, you should get your hair trimmed every 4-6 weeks according to how fast it grows. Long or curly hair can make it as long as eight weeks. The shorter the hair, the more often it will need a trim. For instance, pixie cuts require attention every few weeks.”

 

Ultimately, when searching for that perfect cut and color, Cooke suggests, “it’s best to consult with a stylist about your specific hair type. Different types of hair take product differently, and it is important to use the product that is best suited for you.”

CUTE PETS – May 2014

Despite the spotty spring weather – including gale-force winds, some rain, storms, etc. (typical spring!) – our pets are definitely aware that it’s “outdoor” season. Unlike some pets, my dog, Otis, loves to be indoors, but nowadays he sits by the door, whining to go for a walk. The other day, as we were playing a rowdy game of fetch, Otis decided he needed to take a quick swim in the koi pond … minus the koi, luckily!He had been running around, flying over rocks and rolling around in the dirt and grass, trying to retrieve the balls that we had lobbed over the fence for him. He just couldn’t help himself!

2014 North American International Auto Show

By Paul Santana

Almost every January since 1907, the automotive world has gathered in Detroit, Michigan to see what new and exciting automotive designs the year would bring. The North American International Auto Show started out as a simple gathering of like-minded car professionals, and has expanded into one of the largest media events in North America. This year, the NAIAS celebrated its 25th year as an international event, solidified by the attendance of over 5,100 journalists from over 60 countries, and utilizing nearly one million square feet of floor space at Detroit’s COBO expo center.It remains the only auto show in the United States to earn an annual distinguished sanction of theOrganisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA), the Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world.Every year, the majority of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers come together to show off their current models, and to gauge interest from the public and critics alike, on future designs.

Toyota-FT-1-concept 2

There were over 50 vehicle introductions at this year’s event, most of which were worldwide, with attendance topping 800,000 (the most since 2003). Following the close of the show in January, NAIAS Chairman Bob Shuman was quoted as saying, “industry confidence shined brightly in Detroit, and for good reason. This was a special show, and everyone knew it. The industry is healthy, the products and technology are spectacular, and confidence is high. It would be difficult to find a more exciting or more important two weeks than what we just experienced in the auto industry here on Detroit’s world stage.”

This year’s multi-week event began with a press preview, where journalists were granted a sneak peak at all the show has to offer, followed by an Industry preview event, leading up to the famous Charity preview event. A traditional black tie gala, the NAIAS Charity preview is the largest single night fundraiser in North America, with this year’s 18,000 attendees raising more than $4.5 millionbenefiting nine different children’s charities across Southeastern Michigan. A true philanthropic event, since 1976 they’ve raised more than $91 million for charity.

Once the limos and tuxedoes had cleared out, the NAIAS opened up to the general public, granting the average consumer thechance to come and experience all the show has to offer.  Just like a traditional car show, the selection of autos ranged from practical to extreme.  Everything from Chrysler’s new minivan offerings to the exotic multi-million-dollar dream machines that most of us can only imagine owning.

2015 Ford F-150

2015-ford-150 Ext 1Every year, a few models seem to pique the interest of the automotive collective, and this year the talk of the show was definitely the all-new-for-2015 Ford F-150. But it wasn’t because of some new dramatic styling decision, or radical capability breakthrough. While the new F-150 does provide updated styling and performance enhancements over the previous year, this wasn’t the reason. As the best-selling truck in the U.S. market for the past 37 years, with over 700,000 trucks sold in 2012, as well as the best-selling vehicle in the world, when Ford decides to make a change to the F-150, the industry takes notice. Ford’s big announcement came in the form of a new body and load bed made almost entirely of an aluminum alloy, a first for such a high-volume production vehicle. After more than 10 million miles of testing,Ford claims this shift away from the traditional steel commonly usedyields a 700-pound weight reduction. This massive shedding of weight correlates to increased towing capacity, increased acceleration, shorter stopping distances and, most importantly, better fuel economy. The all-new aluminum F-150 comes with several other technical advancements, including class-exclusive LED head and taillights, a huge moon roof, a 360-degree-view exterior camera, and an all-new 8-inch productivity screen in the dash.

2015 Ford F-150

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is expecting worldwide growth in their fuel-efficient models, noting that among the more than 10 million vehicles sold worldwide, more than 2 million were fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine models sold over the past four years. In addition to the new F-150 next year, Ford plans on releasing 23 new vehicles this year, including 16 in North America.  Good news on the job front as well, as Mulally also announced “the most ambitious manufacturing expansion” in over 50 years, creating more than 11,000 jobs this year worldwide, attributable in part to the additions to six assembly plants right here in the United States. The buying public’s reception to the all-new F-150 remains unknown, but all early indications point to another record-setting sales year for Ford in 2015.

2015 Corvette Z06

(L to R) The all-new 2015 Corvette Z06 and 2014 Corvette C7.R raAnother show-stopping production vehicle unveiled at the NAIAS was the newly designed 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Building on the success of last year’s Stingray design, the 2015 Z06 was actually designed in tandem with the Chevrolets C7.R racecar, with the Z06 drawing on several race-inspired materials and designs. Blurring the line between production vehicle and racecar means the Z06 will utilize a lightweight aluminum space frame (60 percent stiffer than the outgoing corvette model), carbon fiber roof and hood panels, and a supercharged 6.2L aluminum V8 generating an impressive 625 HP and 635 lb-ft of torque. The C7.R and the Z06 also share several functional design elements,including front splitters and rockers as well as brake cooling ducts, all working together to increase cooling and downforce.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Interor

Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, unveiled the Z06, proclaiming it “themost capable corvette ever,” and that “it produces the most aerodynamic downforce of any production car ever tested by GM.” Many features on the new Z06 were actually introduced last year in the 2014 Stingray, includingmagnetic ride control anda 5-mode drive selector. It will also feature an industry exclusive performance data recorder that will allow owners to relive their drives on or off the track via high-definition video recordings with telemetry overlays on playback. Chevrolet’s 2015 Z06 promises to bring the most track-capable, street-legal production Corvette ever!

Toyota FT-1 sports car concept

Toyota-FT-1-concept 2Of course, no auto show would be complete without providing a glimpse into our automotive future. When it comes to concept vehicles, sometimes the design is so well received that the idea of not bringing some form of the vehicle into production would be considered a travesty.  Toyota has proven this with the production of their highly successful FJ cruiser,and is hopefully headed in the same direction with the unveiling of their stunning FT-1 sports car concept vehicle. According to Toyota, the FT stands for Future Toyota, with 1 representing the ultimate.  Drawing on Toyota’s rich sports coupe heritage, including the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2 and Scion FR-S, the FT-1 features a “function-sculpting” design language resulting in muscular body forms that have seemingly been shaped by the wind itself. Like most supercars, a retractable rear wing adds downforce, while a series of inlets, ducting and vents provide airflow management. Unlike some supercars, the FT-1 concept features a front engine, rear-wheel drive configuration, pushing the cockpit toward the rear of the vehicle for better weight distribution. The minimalist interior is focused around the driver and includes an F1-inspired steering wheel, a pillar pushed rearward to optimize driver visibility,a delta-shaped digital display, and a heads-up projector display that sends vital information to the windscreen allowing the driver to focus on keeping all four wheels on the pavement.

As powertrain details remain yet to be announced, for now the body of the FT-1 will have to speak for the car’s performance, with a transparent glass hood teasing onlookers as to what will lie beneath. Interestingly, Toyota’s Calty Design Research worked with Polyphony Digital, creators of the Gran Turismo driving simulator, to create a virtual FT-1 driving experience.  Toyota executives were provided the unique opportunity to drive a virtual FT-1 around a computer-generated Fuji speedway, before the creation of an actual model. When Toyota president Akio Toyoda, an accomplished racecar driver, beat his best real-world lap time around the actual Fuji track, the concept was approved to be moved into the next step of model production.

Toyota-FT-1-concept Interior_1Although we won’t know what the FT-1 is truly capable of until its performance stats are finalized and made public,it is an exciting indication of where Toyota performance is headed in the near future. Over the past 50 years, Toyota has built more than 25 million vehicles in North America, where they currently operate 14manufacturing plants, 10 in the US, and directly employ more than 37,000 American employees. The odds of a future FT-1 production sports car being built right here in the U.S. by American workers is fairly high. If it’s anything like the rest of what Toyota’s been producing where 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today, it’s sure to be a reliable performance machine.

The NAIAS claims to be “among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, people, and ideas that matter most, up close and in one place.” As the first and one of the largest American auto shows of 2014, the NAIAS kicked off what is sure to be an exciting year of automobiles, full of exciting fuel-efficient models that prove you can still have a beautiful design, without sacrificing performance.

BACK IN TIME AT THE GEORGE M. MURRELL MANSION

By David Althouse

 

Ready to return to a time of gentlemen bowing to the ladies, of foxhunts,

waltzes and the Virginia reel without leaving the state of Oklahoma? This

step back in time is just a short day drive to the George M. Murrell Mansion, Oklahoma’s only living reminder of the Victorian Era and the Antebellum South.

 

 

There is still an antebellum plantation in Oklahoma where beaux once waltzed with belles, where clouds of wood smoke bellowed from the smokehouse, where cracks of gunfire echoed through the woods during a fox hunt, and where sweet scents from a plantation kitchen teased appetites from miles around.

 

MurrelHomePic3That place is the George M. Murrell Home, nestled in the scenic Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma.

 

The George M. Murrell Home, now the only remaining antebellum plantation in Oklahoma, was built in 1845 for George Michael Murrell, merchant and postmaster of Park Hill and Tahlequah.

 

A native Virginian, Murrell married Minerva Ross, a Cherokee woman, in Tennessee in 1834, around the time of The Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole peoples from their native homes in the southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Murrell and his bride,daughter of Lewis Ross, the National Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, and the niece of Principal Chief John Ross, moved to Indian Territory with the Cherokees and settled in Park Hill, three miles south of Tahlequah.

 

The couple built their plantation mansion between 1843 and 1845. The family lived there until the outbreak of the War Between the States in 1861.

 

During that time, the Murrell’s home became a center of activity for genteel society. Murrell often held fox hunts on his property, earning his Greek Revival-style house the title of “Hunter’s Home.”

 

In 1855, Minerva died of intermittent fever. Two years later, Murrell married Minerva’s youngest sister, Amanda, honoring one of the last requests of his late wife.

 

Murrell remained officially neutral during the War Between the States for two reasons: as an intermarried Ross family member, he could never align himself with Cherokee Confederate forces led by General Stand Watie, longtime enemy of Chief John Ross; and as a native Virginian with strong pro-Confederate sympathies, he could never support the North.

 

MurrelHomePic2Thus, the Murrells chose to leave their plantation home for Virginia in 1862. They returned to Hunter’s Home after the war ended, but never again used it as their main residence.

 

The home’s architectural style, the events held there, and the items with which it was furnished recalled Murrell’s home state of Virginia and the plantation life in which he was raised. It was the only such antebellum plantation to survive the War Between the States.

 

“The home is a story of tragedy and triumph,” said Amanda Pritchett, George M. Murrell Home historical interpreter. “Hunter’s Home shows how the Cherokee Nation was able to rebuild remarkably quickly after losing nearly one-fourth of their population on the Trail of Tears. The people of Park Hill, including the Ross and Murrell families, were among the most affluent and best educated people west of the Mississippi River during the antebellum period. The Cherokees rebuilt their social and political institutions, only to have them knocked down again during the Civil War, and then again during the land allotment period of the early 1900s. The Murrell Home survived all of these storms, and stands today as a testament to the resilience and determination of the Cherokee people.”

 

Today, the George M. Murrell Home is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society and features a newly remodeled and expanded Museum Store. The shop is now housed in George Murrell’s library, and store displays are modeled after the original Murrell furniture. Visitors can purchase from a new line of Murrell Home souvenirs, including t-shirts, handmade fiber arts, historic toys, a great selection of books, and much more.

 

The Oklahoma Historical Society goes to great lengths to offer visitors hands-on opportunities to experience antebellum plantation life as it was manifested in the Cherokee Nation of the 1800s.

 
In 2013, the site announced the start of a new monthly living history program that began last October. The 1845 Cherokee plantation home now hosts a different historical demonstration or activity the third Saturday of each month.

On these days, museum visitors see period-dressed interpreters performing tasks in a living history capacity. Guests see a variety of demonstrations and talk to historians, while participating in some of the activities. Topics cover all aspects of Cherokee plantation life, from traditional crafts, cooking and gardening to animal demonstrations, building trades and cultural activities.

 

For the last 21 years, the site has been the backdrop for storytellers spinning yarns about the “Hunter’s Ghost” and other chilling accounts.

MurrelHomePic1David Fowler, who manages the site for the Oklahoma Historical Society, said the innovative, family-oriented program features various storytellers in a number of rooms telling tales about the Murrell house, the Cherokee country and other ghost stories.

 

“The Ghost Stories are one of our most popular events of the year,” Fowler said.

Ghost stories related to the 1845 plantation mansion are documented as early as the 1930s. One story, the “Hunter’s Ghost,” is the legend that grew out of the years George Murrell operated the mansion as his “Hunter’s Home” before the War Between the States, when he often hosted fox hunts in the Cherokee Nation. This and other tales related to the historic home are revived by storytellers in period costume.

Visitors move through the house and listen to stories from various unique storytellers. Guests get to sample hot cider and cookies in the Daniel Cabin.

 

Pritchett said Hunter’s Home is the only surviving example of the successful Cherokee plantation culture of the 1840s and 1850s.

 

“Much of the original furniture imported from Europe and the eastern United States survives and is on display in the museum today,” Pritchett said. “Visitors will also see the original springhouse and 1890s smokehouse.”

 

The Murrell Home’s collection of period adornments grew recently with donations from a great-granddaughter of George and Amanda Murrell. Among the donated treasures are an 1880s Holy Bible analysis that belonged to Amanda; a portrait of Lewis Ross, Amanda’s father, painted in the 1830s by Ralph Earle II; a collection of items owned by George Murrell that includes a miniature portrait locket with a never-before-seen painting of its owner, a watch fob, a marble statue, an oversized floor candlestick, and two ornate mahogany dressing screens; a broach believed to have belonged to either Amanda Murrell or Mary Jane Ross; items once belonging to George and Amanda’s daughter, Fannie, that include two chairs, a ladle and cake server, and two portraits of Fannie as a toddler.

 

The George M. Murrell Home is a National Historic Landmark, a Certified Trail of Tears Site, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home is located at 19479 E. Murrell Home Road in Park Hill.

 

For a wealth of additional information about this historic home and museum, visitwww.okhistory.org/murrellhome or call (918) 456-2751.

The site’s Facebook page is located here.

The site is open for tours year-round, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.

The Beautiful Buntings of Oklahoma

By Roy Neher

 

IMG_5722 copy

Several years ago, a friend admitted to me that he had looked out his window one day and thought he had spotted a bird he just couldn’t believe he was really seeing. I asked him to describe the bird, already knowing what he was about to say. He described a bird with a blue head, red body and a lime green cape, plus some other colors, too. He thought he was dreaming, or possibly, that his mind was playing tricks on him.

 

Seeing the worried look on his face, I had to laugh. Apparently, he had been questioning his sanity for some time. I assured him that he was not going nutty – what he had seen was a Painted Bunting.

 

MALE PAINTED BUNTING AT A FEEDER

 
Although we are all familiar with our state bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, most Oklahomans aren’t aware that we have one of the most colorful birds in America nesting right here in our state. With its plumage displaying just about every color of the rainbow, the adult male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is a dazzler. This sparrow-sized member of the finch family is a sight to behold.
Females and immature birds are uniformly green in color, and a slightly bluish tint can be detected on the shoulders of most. It is almost impossible to differentiate between the females and immatures by sight alone; therefore, they are just known as “Greenies.”

 

MALE PAINTED BUNTING WITH CONE FLOWERS

Male Painted Buntings have to earn their colors. Unlike most birds that get their adult plumage by the end of the first season or, at least, by the following spring, male Painted Buntings don’t acquire their adult plumage until their third year. Some individuals aren’t fully molted until their fourth year.

 

My first sight of a Painted Bunting occurred when one landed right in front of me. It was so brightly colored that it startled me, and my uncontrollable flinch in turn scared it … and the most beautiful bird I had ever seen flew away. To my sheer joy, the gorgeous little bird came back a few minutes later and proceeded to take a long bath. I am sure that I enjoyed that bath every bit as much as he did.

 

Painted Buntings are migratory birds and spend the winter months in Mexico and Central America. They begin to arrive back in Oklahoma, where they will build their nests and raise their broods, in late April through early May. Although they prefer the more heavily wooded areas of the eastern half of the state, there have been documented sightings of them in just about every county in Oklahoma.

 

In mid-August, after the young birds have been fledged and can fend for themselves, the adult males will leave here and begin their fall migration back to the southern climates. The females and immature birds will remain in Oklahoma longer, sometimes as late as November, before they, too, will leave.

 

Oklahoma is fortunate enough to have three species of buntings: the Painted, the Indigo and the Lazuli.

 

TWO GREENIES AT THE FEEDERThe beautiful blue Indigo Bunting is not really blue. Like the gorgets covering the throats of male hummingbirds, which appear bright red or purple, the Indigo’s feathers are actually black. These feathers separate (refract) the colors of the spectrum from the sunlight, absorb all of the colors besides indigo, and then reflect that indigo color back out, which is what we see. They can look black when not in good light, and, depending on the lighting, the feathers can appear different shades of blue.

 

The third member of the group is the pale blue Lazuli Bunting. Often mistaken for a bluebird, the Lazuli has the much thicker, conically-shaped beak of a seed-eating bird instead of the thin beak of the insect-eating bluebird.

 

Females of both the Indigo and Lazuli Buntings are brown, rather plain looking little birds. It takes some practice to be able to distinguish them from sparrows.

 

Unlike the male Painted Buntings that retain their bright colors all winter, the male Indigo and Lazuli Buntings molt in the fall into a brown plumage that resembles the females. Some, however, will still have small patches of blue feathers.

 

Luckily, buntings have started frequenting birdfeeders. I can’t think of a more beautiful addition to not only our yards, but also our lives. They like the smaller seeds, such as millet, which is great for those small birdfeeders that don’t hold many of the larger seeds. Most other birds are not interested in the millet, which leaves the feeder available for the buntings to use undisturbed. Buntings are only aggressive toward other buntings, and can easily be scared off by larger or more aggressive birds. When push comes to shove, though, they will grab a bite of food if they get hungry enough.

 

PAINTED bUNTING ON BIRDBATHI received my first birding guide as a Christmas present when I was 10 years old. It was the Golden Book guide to North American Birds. On the cover were images of all three buntings. For years I dreamt of just seeing each of those birds.

 

One spring, about two years ago, a large flock of migrating male Lazuli Buntings visited my property. They stayed with us about a week, resting and replenishing their bodies after their long migration trek. Prior to that, I had only sighted one Lazuli here, 20 years earlier. Out came the camera, and I photographed them for several days.

 

On one of those beautiful spring mornings, I looked out my window to find all three species of buntings on my feeder at the same time. Andthey were all males! In my excitement, I just kept hitting the shutter button as fast as I could. This was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, and an experience that I will cherish the rest of my life. It was more than I had even dared to dream of.

Cute Pets ▬ March 2014

I don’t know about your pets, but Otis doesn’t much like going out in the snow. One quick frolic and he’s over the whole thing. This month’s pictures include dogs and cats hiding out in their warm beds, as well as those looking forward to spring – wearing sunglasses! We finally had a break in our winter weather (darn that groundhog!) that called for some dog park outings. Happy dogs!

Oklahoma’s Nautical Archeological Treasure Site

A new exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center highlights a story 175 years in

the making – the tale of the early western steamboat Heroine. The Heroine

sank beneath the muddy waters of the Red River in 1838, only to reappear

again in 1999, returning to historians and archeologists a hefty trove of

artifacts from a bygone era on America’s western rivers.

 

By David Althouse

 

DSC_2360The story of Oklahoma’s only shipwreck begins in the late 1830s, the era of America’s earliest steamboats. Those very first vessels were capable of not only transporting people and goods downriver to destinations within the vast and largely unknown American interior, but also able, using steam power, to travel back upriver and begin the process again, thus accelerating western expansion.

 

The steamboat Heroine lay beneath the Red River near Fort Towson for over 160 years before returning to the light of day and to its rightful place in history 15 years ago.

 

One summer day in 1999, fishermen from Idabel, aboard their fishing boat on the Red River, noticed a strange formation of wood protruding from the water. The fishermen floated in closer, tied their boat to the unusual formation, and began a closer inspection. The fishermen were uncertain what they were seeing, but they were certain it appeared to be very, very old.

 

When the fishermen returned to Idabel, they called Oklahoma Historical Society officials stationed at Fort Towson to report their discovery.

 

The Oklahoma Historical Society invited the Institute of Nautical Archeology at Texas A&M University to the site for an investigation. After their initial exploration, officials from Texas A&M fathomed that the protruding wood structure was certainly an early-day steamboat, perhaps from the late 1800s.

 

Their continued exploration and study dated the craft all the way back to 1838. Institute officials further determined the craft sank en route with supplies intended for the Second Dragoons, then stationed at Fort Towson. Located in present-day Choctaw County along the Red River, Fort Towson was, in those early days, a fortress deep within the largely unknown recesses of America’s southwestern-most frontier.

 

Michael Dean, an Oklahoma historian familiar with documents related to the discovery and on-going investigation of the river craft, became directly involved in the story in 2003 while serving as public relations director for the Oklahoma Historical Society. A year before, while serving in the 95th Training Division, Dean found himself on a training mission at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in Fort Lee, Virginia. Dean knew the Quartermaster Corps, the U.S. Army’s oldest logistics branch, established in June of 1775, to be home of tons of documental history related to military provisioning – from the Revolutionary War era to present times. While at Fort Lee, Dean met key contact personnel at the storied museum of the Quartermaster Corps.

DSC_4260

During the summer of 2003, armed with a folder full of documents gathered up to that point as a result of the joint site investigation with Texas A&M, Dean returned to Fort Lee to meet with the staff historian of the Quartermaster Corps.

 

“It took me a while to figure out what I needed to say to him to pique his interest in the story,” Dean said. “He had never heard of Fort Towson and barely knew there was a fort in Oklahoma called Sill. The Second Dragoons was foreign to him. But I got his attention when I said, ‘We think the steamboat was bringing supplies to the army garrison at Fort Towson.’ That was talking his language.”

 

Dean then arranged to bring together representatives from both the Quartermaster Corps and Institute of Nautical Archeology at Texas A&M.

 

“Together, they were able to find advertisements the army ran in eastern newspapers soliciting supplies for the roughly 12 western frontier forts west of the Mississippi River,” Dean said. “They then found the contract the army had signed with two Cleveland, Ohio businessmen charged with providing a year’s worth of supplies for the army garrison at Fort Towson. The contract told us pretty much what was on the boat.”

 

A copy of the contract shows the riverboat’s cargo included 240 barrels of pickled pork, 500 barrels of flour, 220 bushels of white beans, 3,500 pounds of soap, 1,600 pounds of candles, and 80 bushels of salt.

 

DSC_2354“The contract was very precise,” Dean said. “The barrels containing the pickled pork had to be made of a certain type of wood, and the pickled pork could only be the hams and side meat and could not include pigs’ feet and snouts.”

 

Research proved the steamboat was built in 1832 in Albany, Indiana, was named Heroine, and had previously aided in the Texas Revolution by transporting 94 volunteers under the command of Captain Earl from Louisville, Kentucky to their drop-off point in eastern Texas.

 

Heroine transported both cargo and passengers, and a typical trip aboard her decks began in Louisville and ended in New Orleans. William Fairfax Gray, an early travel writer, once said of the vessel, “The officers are very attentive. The steward is the best I’ve seen on the western waters.”

 

Dean said Heroine left Cincinnati around February 1838 bound for the western forts – first making her way down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers before turning upstream when she reached the mouth of the Red River near the new community of Shreveport.

 

The Heroine waited around Shreveport long enough for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Henry Shreve, the riverboat captain and inventor for whom the city is named, to begin clearing a path through the “Great Raft,” a monstrous, 150-mile-long logjam that had clogged passage along the Red River for centuries.

 

“Finally, in April of 1838, Heroine passed through the Great Raft, one of the first large boats in the upper reaches of the Red River,” Dean said. “On May 7, 1838, she hit a snag and started taking on water. The captain and crew survived, but the cargo did not.”

 

By 1843, the wreck of the Heroine was buried by a flood. Later, the Red River changed course, thereby placing Heroine and her cargo beneath the dirt of a farmer’s field near Swink, Oklahoma. She remained hidden there until the spring of 1999, a year of heavy rainfall. Lake Texoma filled to the brim, and Denison Dam sent abnormally large releases of water downstream, causing the Red River to shift once again in its channel, revealing the nautical archeological treasure that is the western steamboat Heroine.

 

“The A&M guys declared the Heroine to be the single greatest fresh-water find because it is classified as an early western steamboat,” Dean said. “In 1840, engineers made changes in how they designed steamboats for the western rivers. Up until discovery of Heroine, there were no known examples of the western river steamboats, but there were many examples of later versions.”

 

The Heroine was a double-paddled vessel that could not reverse itself, making it extremely difficult to steer. Further, steam engines prior to 1840 were operated without a pressure gauge, so engineers on the boats operated under a system described by Dean as “by guess and by golly.”

 

There are good reasons the Heroine is the last remaining early western steamboat, Dean said. Poorly constructed, the early western steamboats sank from falling apart or from catching fire due to exploding boilers.

 

“Our Heroine hit a snag – a log – beneath the water, started taking on water, and settled on a sand bar about a half mile from the wharf by the fort and the town of Doaksville,” Dean said. “So she sort of split in half as she settled on the sand bar. The crew was able to get off. They were able to get the engine off the boat, but they were not able to save any of the cargo.”

 

This was unwelcome news for the two aforementioned Cleveland, Ohio businessmen whose products were on board.

 

“The two contractors would only be paid once the supplies had been delivered to the fort,” Dean said. “Well, the Heroine got to within a half mile of the fort when she hit a snag and sank. They didn’t get their $11,700 which, back then, was a ton of money.”

 

DSC_2347In addition to some of the provisions meant for Fort Towson, archeologists have retrieved from the now-submerged site numerous artifacts that survived mainly because they were underground and not underwater for approximately 160 years. These relics include boots still showing the outline of the owner’s footprints inside; tools such as hammers, picks and chisels; cotton and cargo dollies; assorted dining utensils; a grindstone; and a turnbuckle used in steering the vessel.

 

One of the more perplexing finds was that of a soapbox displaying a diamond “G” label, a trademark of one Mr. Gamble, who later merged with the company of his brother-in-law, Mr. Proctor, a move that created the Proctor & Gamble Company.

 

“The guys at the Army’s Quartermaster Corps were absolutely astounded that we were finding these things from that far back, because they had no actual artifacts from steamboats from that time period,” Dean said. “They only had records because, as you may know, the army never throws away anything.”

 

The largest artifact of all, the hull of the steamboat Heroine, sits submerged underwater. “It is estimated to cost at least $1 billion to retrieve the hull,” Dean said. “In 2005, a helicopter was hired to pull up the center hubs of the paddle wheels. Those have been down at A&M going through a conservation process. These hubs – enormous in size – will one day be back at Fort Towson and part of an exhibition in a new building there.”

Those Idabel fishermen said what they found looked old … and it was.

 

It also turned out to be Oklahoma’s only known nautical archeological site, one showcasing the earliest and finest known example of the celebrated western river steamboat – a catch that, in its prime, ran 140-feet long and weighed 160 tons.

 

Now, that’s quite a fishing tale.

 

To learn more about the western steamboat Heroine, visit the Oklahoma History Center’s new Steamboat Heroine exhibit. For information about the exhibit, visit www.okhistory.org/historycenter.