Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park
Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park is located on Oklahoma State
Highway 28A, at a point 3.5 miles east of U.S. Route 66. The
junction of these two roads occurs in the center of Foyil, OK.
The park and its gift shop are open to the public
Monday-Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm and Sunday 12:30pm to 4:00pm.
No admission fee is charged. To make an appointment or for
more information please call the Rogers County Historical
Society at 918-342-1169 or 918-342-9149, or visit its website.
Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole
Park is the oldest and largest example of a folk art environment
in Oklahoma; its construction lasting from 1937 to 1961.
Totem Pole Park contains the original, highly decorated
creations of Galloway, one of Oklahoma’s premier folk artists
and significant in the “visionary art” movement. The park is
located just 3.5 miles off the Mother Road. All of the art
objects are made of stone or concrete, reinforced with steel
rebar and wood. Galloway incised and carved the objects in
bas-relief and applied paint to decorations that generally
include representational and figurative images of birds and
Native Americans of Northwest Coast/Alaska and Plains cultures
arranged facing the four cardinal directions.
Edward Galloway was born in 1880 in Springfield, Missouri and
began wood carving as a boy. He became proficient in woodworking
and blacksmithing and obtained employment at Sand Springs Home,
teaching manual arts to orphan boys. In 1937, he retired to live
on the property now known as the Totem Pole Park. He constructed
a vernacular Craftsman residence, a smokehouse, and a workshop
(which no longer exists). He began to make violins, furniture,
and decorative wall art. Galloway became interested in American
Indians and found inspiration in post cards and National
Geographic magazines to construct totem poles in the park.
Between 1937 and 1948, he created a 90-foot tall main totem
pole heavily carved with bas-relief designs, the largest art
object on the property. This totem pole is made of red sandstone
framed with steel and wood with a thick concrete skin and sits
on a large three-dimensional turtle. The turtle forms the base
and is carved from a broad, flat outcrop of sandstone in place
on the site. The totem pole is hollow and ascends nine “floors,”
with the ground floor measuring nine feet in diameter. The
plastered interior depicts painted murals of mountain-and-lake
scenes and bird totems. American Indian shields and arrow points
line the tops of the murals. At the very top, the cone is open
to the sky.
Other totems include a pre-1955 Arrowhead
Totem, a c.1955 Birdbath Totem, and a Tree Totem dating c.
1955-1961. The park also includes two sets of concrete totem
picnic tables with seats, a concrete totem barbeque/fireplace,
small bird gateposts, as well as the Fish-Arch gates designed by
Galloway to look like a gar-like fish with bird images facing
east and west.
A museum stands on the property called
the “Fiddle House” which houses Galloway’s fiddles and other
creations. The eleven-sided building resembles a Navajo hogan,
decorated with totemic columns and Native American portraits.
In 1961, Galloway died and the park fell into disrepair
until the Rogers County Historical Society acquired it in 1989.
In a restoration effort conducted from 1988-1998 by the Rogers
County Historical Society and the Kansas Grassroots Arts
Association, art conservators and engineers studied the site and
repainted, replaced, and replicated materials in disrepair.