Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve

by Roger Due [10-30-2022].

Be sure to scroll down beyond this introduction to view a large gallery of photos that I took.

Woolaroc is about an hour north of Tulsa, so we did a day trip to see the wild animals in the fields. There is also a barn with animals that young kids can pet. We also toured the Museum and the Historic Frank Phillip's Lodge. I've included some background information from their website and then a gallery of my photos. You can click on a photo to scroll through them one at a time. Expand your browser to full screen for the largest photos. The Woolaroc Preserve is much larger than what I've shown on the above map.

About Woolaroc


The mission of Frank Phillips when he built Woolaroc in 1925 was to (1) preserve the history of the West, (2) educate and (3) entertain. Today, the Foundation and the employees of Woolaroc, still follow that Mission.

Frank Phillips Foundation

The Frank Phillips Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1937 by oilman Frank Phillips and his wife Jane Phillips. In 1944, Frank and Jane Phillips donated all of their personal ownership of Woolaroc (grounds, facilities, animals, collections, and art) to the Foundation.

At that time it was determined that the primary purpose of the Foundation was to assure the operation and the preservation of Woolaroc.

Wildlife Preserve & Museum

Hidden away in the rugged Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma, Woolaroc was established in 1925 as the ranch retreat of oilman Frank Phillips. The ranch is a 3,700 acre wildlife preserve, home to many species of native and exotic wildlife, such as bison, elk and longhorn cattle. Woolaroc is also a museum with an outstanding collection of western art and artifacts, Native American material, one of the finest collections of Colt firearms in the world, and so much more.

With its wildlife preserve, rustic lodge, outstanding museum and rugged natural environment, perhaps the vision of Woolaroc can best be summed up in Frank Phillips' own words: "This isn't all a dream about something, but a place where I can get back to nature. The great difficulty with the American people today is that they are getting too far away from the fundamental things in life. Too much time and money are spent on things which leave no record and which add nothing basically to the present nor to the future. To build permanently and wisely is to benefit all mankind. The conservation of wildlife now will mean much to future generations."

Woolaroc embodies the natural environment, cultural heritage, history and early values that made America great. It is a diverse and unique experience to be enjoyed by the entire family.

The name WOOLAROC is derived from three words—the woods, lakes and rocks that make up the beautiful Osage Hills of northeast Oklahoma where Woolaroc is located. The name was originally intended for the rustic Lodge ranch house, but it was so unique that it soon became the name for the entire Frank Phillips ranch.

Woolaroc has something for everyone. Will Rogers once said, "When you are visiting the beauty spots of this country, don't overlook Frank Phillips' ranch and game preserve in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It's the most unique place in this country." If there is one last under-discovered treasure left in the United States, it surely must be a place called Woolaroc.

History of Woolaroc

The Story of Frank Phillips

Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum Company, was born near Scotia, Greeley County, Nebraska, on November 28, 1873. His birthplace was a primitive log cabin on the sparsely settled frontier where educational opportunities were limited to the traditional one room country school house. This, perhaps, accounted for his later life interest in the education and training of modern youth.

When Frank was a year old his parents moved to a farm near Creston, Iowa, where he spent most of his early youth. There, as a boy, he learned the value of hard work. He earned his first wages digging potatoes for a neighboring farmer at ten cents a day.

Frank Phillips was always determined to do big things. He began to display ability as a businessman and financier at the early age of 24 while working as a barber in Creston. Before many months passed he owned every barber shop in town. His interest, however, soon turned to financial matters.

It was in 1903, while working as a bond salesman that he heard about the new oil field which had just been discovered at Bartlesville, Indian Territory. Moving to the new oil town Frank Phillips went into business for himself using his savings to organize the Citizens Bank and Trust Company.

He soon found that the banking business extended into oil operations and began to acquire a few oil leases. His oil interests grew until in 1917 he and his brother, L.E. Phillips, incorporated Phillips Petroleum Company.

For the first 21 years of the Company’s operation, Frank Phillips served as president. At his suggestion K.S. Adams was elected president in 1938. Frank Phillips then served as chairman of the board of directors of the Company until 1949 when he asked to be relieved of all responsibilities of active management and request that he not be reelected as chairman of the board.

A new title of honorary director and honorary chairman was then created for him by special action of the board of directors.

Frank Phillips, known as "Uncle Frank" by employees and friends, contributed large sums to the Boy Scouts of America and other youth programs. He also organized The Frank Phillips Foundation, Inc., which owns and operates Woolaroc.

Among his many appointments, honorary memberships and honorary degrees, he was most proud of his admittance to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1939, the French Government decoration of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1928, and the Silver Buffalo for Distinguished Service of Boyhood, the highest award presented by the Boy Scouts of America. In 1949, he was awarded the distinguished service citation by the University of Oklahoma.

In the early days of his career he drilled many wells on Osage Indian lands. As a tribute to his fair dealings and interest in their welfare, the Osage adopted Frank Phillips into the tribe and made him a chief. He was given the Indian name, "Wah-Shah-She (Osage) Hluah-Ke-He-Kah (Eagle Chief)" — "Uncle Frank" was the first white man ever to attain this high honor.

Frank Phillips died on August 23, 1950. Mrs. Phillips, affectionately known as "Aunt Jane," preceded him in death by over two years, about eighteen months after their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. Mr. Phillips will be long remembered for his great personal achievements and his unselfish interest in the welfare of people.

(This was handed out at Franks’ funeral with the following forward)

"The death of Frank Phillips is a great loss to all of us who knew him and worked with him. It means the loss of a warm, personal friend. His life exemplifies the best American traditions. By his own initiative he founded Phillips Petroleum Company and became a great leader in American industry. He had the gift of acquiring; the wisdom of giving. In his private life he was known for his humanitarianism and his deep understanding and warm appreciation of people. Frank Phillips’ life is an inspiration for all of us."

K S Adams, President, Phillips Petroleum Company August 1950

Creating the Woolaroc Museum

The Frank Phillips Ranch was founded in 1925 and the Woolaroc Museum had a humble beginning four years later in 1929.

In 1929, a stone pavilion was built on the hill above the Lodge for the WOOLAROC, a small, single-engine monoplane sponsored by Frank Phillips that was flown in the Dole Air Race from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii Territory on August 16-17, 1927. The pavilion was an open structure with no doors or windows. Before long, glass showcases were placed around the plane to display some of the overflow of guns, Indian relics, and other gifts not needed for decorating the Lodge.

Though he did not realize it at the time, he had just built the beginning of his own private museum.

To keep the rain, snow and wind out, a brass door and glass windows were added to enclose the facility. Uncle Frank called it his "airplane museum" as he continued to receive gifts that were placed there. Later, art acquisitions were added that encroached on the space for the small aircraft.

During the 1930's, the "airplane museum" had been enlarged with additions in 1932 and 1939. The art collection also began to expand with a vast array of western art and artifacts to achieve Uncle Frank's vision of "preserving the history of the West that he knew as a young man." Tourism was beginning to develop in Oklahoma and people were asking to see Woolaroc.

The Phillips family realized that the museum was taking on increasing historical significance and that it must become more than a private collection. In 1938, a professional museum director was hired to oversee the preservation and presentation of the increasing Woolaroc Museum collection.

An administrative wing with the Dome Room and the new entrance was added in 1947 in time for the Phillips 50th wedding anniversary.

The Museum display space was significantly increased with another addition in 1976 that provided two levels for special exhibits and the expanding Museum collection. In 1985, the Airplane Room was added to the building as the new "home" for the newly restored Woolaroc airplane. The plane is now displayed suspended in a two-level facility that lets guests get a complete view of this historic aircraft.

Envisioning the Woolaroc Museum as a symbol of his commitment to the community and the youth of America, Uncle Frank wrote this dedication in 1944, six years before his death:

"Those of us who have been more fortunate have a debt to society, which I believe can best be paid by training and educating the youth of the nation. I dedicate this museum to the boys and girls of today the fathers and mothers of tomorrow. May they profit by a knowledge of man's past and be enabled to plan and live a happier future."

That dedication has stood the test of time. Our mission today remains much the same as Frank envisioned it — and we wouldn't have it any other way. Woolaroc is committed to preserving the heritage of the people of Oklahoma and the values of early America that made this country great.