World’s Largest Totem Pole Gets a Facelift

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totem1 In this line of work, you never know who you’ll have the opportunity to meet. This month it was Erin Turner, the Tulsan-turned-New Yorker who has been tasked with giving the Ed Galloway Totem Pole a much-deserved paint job.

You’ve probably seen the posters around town asking for donations for the Rogers County Historical Society in an effort to repaint the totem pole. After a lot of fundraising and hard work, the job is complete!

One day, many moons ago, Erin’s friend showed her some photos of the landmark totem pole. She wasn’t familiar with it, so they took a road trip over to Foyil to check it out. (To be honest, I’ve lived in Claremore since I was two years old and I never visited the totem pole until I was 27.) While visiting the park, the lady working in the gift shop mentioned to Erin that they were looking for someone to finish the new paint job. Erin, an art student, was intrigued.

totem2The bottom portion of the totem pole was renovated in 2009, but the top hadn’t been touched since the 1990s. Erin knew it would be a chore, but she was prepared. A Tulsa native, she attended the Pratt Institute, a fine arts college in Brooklyn. She transferred home to the University of Tulsa before moving to Argentina. Erin is now settled back in New York, where she is in graduate school for her MFA in social practice at Queens College.

When she was first approached about the totem pole renovation, she prepared a budget and helped with fundraising for the Rogers County Historical Society and Foyil Heritage Association (current owners of the totem pole park) via a Kickstarter campaign. Erin then spent a year researching the best type of paint to use for the project. She decided on a paint that is made of crushed mineral, which will last for 30 years with no fading. The colors are historically accurate. She began painting during the summer of 2015, and came home to finish. She completed the project at the end of June.

If you’re out and about, take a rest at the Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park. It’s a nice place to enjoy a picnic on a beautiful summer day. Totem Pole Park is located 10 miles northeast of Claremore and 3.5 miles east of Foyil and Route 66 on Highway 28A.

-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who is impressed that Erin
did all this work in the
sweltering Oklahoma heat
ashleyheadshot


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