Trips On A Tankful: Ponca City

Tuesday, April 13th 2021, 2:43 pm
By: News 9

PONCA CITY, Oklahoma -

News 9’s Kelly Ogle took some new News 9 employees to see the sights and learn the scandals of Ponca City. The drive time was about 1.5 hours from Oklahoma City. He loaded up the bus’s TV with documentaries about the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch.

“I learned, when my kids were teenagers, if you want to stir their interest in history, show it to them, then let them touch it,” Kelly said.

The 101 was founded by Joe Miller after the Cherokee Strip land run and operated by his three sons: the Miller Brothers. It’s a massive spread covering some 172 square miles, land they leased from the Poncan Tribe through Chief White Eagle. A monument to the chief built a century ago still stands on what was ranch land.

The headquarters is just south of Ponca City, an enormous home known as the White House.

“The little building down there was the power house. They produced their own electricity,” said Joe Glaser, who was featured in the documentary and met the group to show them around this site of the old ranch.

It hosted celebrities, even President Teddy Roosevelt, who came to watch the Miller Brothers World Famous Wild West Show. The show traveled the country and Europe before its demise during the Great Depression.

Our traveling road show had to keep moving, too. And even though we were on a bus, our next stop was the Ponca City Airport for lunch.

Enrique's is a must if you’re near Ponca City, and like Mexican food. 

The next stop: the beautiful old Poncan Theater downtown. The posh downtown theatre has been refurbished to look just like it did in the 1920s.

For 94 years now, the Poncan has shown big name live performances and motion pictures. On this day, our News 9 newbies sat surrounded by history to learn about history: the impossible story of oilman E. W. Marland, and the palace he built just blocks away.

The Marland Mansion rises up over the center of Ponca City, a couple of miles from the refinery that helped pay the $5.5 million construction cost back in 1928, $60 to $70 million today.

“It’s shocking that is in Ponca City,” said News 9’s Storme Jones.

The mansion is stunning in its excess.

"The ceiling is gold leaf. The AC vents have gold nuggets, and the chandeliers have Waterford crystal,” said Executive Director David Keathly as he gave the tour. “So, what you see in this room would be about $2 million.”

“We all live in Oklahoma who are watching this right now. If you haven’t been able to go and see it, you’re going to be in awe,” said News 9 reporter Tevis Hillis.

And Marland's life story was, well, equally excessive.

“We were joking that it’s almost like something you would see on Netflix,” said News 9 producer Matt Kalish.

“There was always a plot twist,” added News 9 reporter Feliz Romero. “It was either from the riches that he lost, to marrying his adopted daughter that no longer was his adopted daughter, to her running away. You were always on the edge of your seat.” 

“I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know where or what Ponca City was,” said News 9 reporter Anjelicia Bruton who moved to Oklahoma from Florida.

“I want to come back. I want to bring my friends and family here,” says Storme.