Cruising down Route 66 near Oklahoma City, an interesting site comes into view. Now giving that you are on Route 66 that should not actually be a surprise, but one look at the Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma and the urge to pull over will be irresistible. Do not be confused with some barns that look round, because they are actually hexagonal or octagonal. The Round Barn is truly a unique landmark because it is truly round and considering that it was originally constructed in 1898, it deserves its place as one of the most photographed landmark along Route 66.
So why build a round barn? Is it to drive people crazy so you can tell them to come out to the barn and meet you in the corner? As fun as that sounds, the real reason is much simpler. It was built because people said it could not be built. William H. Odor wanted to have a round barn and his neighbors told him that it could not be done. Mr. Odor stubbornly proved them all wrong as he soaked local burr oak timbers in water until they became soft and then banded them into the mold to create the curved shapes that formed the sides and roof rafters.
The barn is 60 feet in diameter and roughly two stories high at 45 feet and has a wooden floor upstairs loft that features an architecturally impressive ceiling. The reason for the barn’s round shape was that it would help it withstand the tornadic conditions which is common in Oklahoma. This loft was originally planned for hay storage; but Mr. Odor was convinced to allow the space to be used as a community gathering place for dances. Today, the Loft is available for weddings and parties for groups up to 150 people.
Ironically, this was not the case in 1988 after suffering through decades of neglect, the barn’s diameter roof finally collapsed. The barn was saved by a group of retirees who self-named themselves The Over the Hill Gang volunteer their time, money, and skill to restore the barn over a period of four years.
The Arcadia Round Barn is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and for more information, call (405) 396-0824. After your visit, take a quick trip down Historic Route 66 because your trip to Arcadia isn’t complete without a stop at the unique and colorful Pops. You can fill up on tasty food in the old-fashioned diner and browse their selection of over 600 kinds of soda from classic soda to more eccentric flavors such as beef jerky or sweet corn soda. The highlight of the stop is the 66-foot dazzling multi-colored LED light sculpture of a soda bottle. It is quite the site especially at night.