Native Stonework Making Tulsa’s Gathering Place Distinctly Oklahoman

Thursday, January 26th 2017, 8:29 pm
By: Emory Bryan

One of the distinguishing features designed into Tulsa's Gathering Place is native stone. It's in everything from walkways to archways, on walls and floors and bridge supports.

And getting the stone for such a big project set in motion a massive operation in southeast Oklahoma.

Three and a half years ago, Tommy Caldwell took on his biggest job ever - after architects for the Gathering Place got a look at a sample of Oklahoma sandstone.

It has a nice edge for one, and the color and patterns are unique to the land around Shady Point, Oklahoma.

Caldwell said, “It's a neat stone because you have the different patterns - the different patterns is how it breaks out of the ground."

The stone they're after is under eight feet of topsoil and a few more feet of capstone.

It's about 20 feet thick and comes out in large blocks requiring massive mining equipment.

Much of the rock going to Tulsa's Gathering Place comes from a hillside near McCurtain - one of the largest rock quarries in the state, and it's filled with Oklahoma sandstone.

Special Coverage: A Gathering Place for Tulsa

Project Manager Jeff Stava said the sandstone, 20,000 tons of it, will make the park distinctly Oklahoma.

"Just an unbelievable pallet of colors, with the rust and the browns,” he said. “I think when people look at the Four Seasons Garden and the stone work throughout the park and the lodge floors they'll be amazed at how beautiful it is and how important it will be for the park.”

For BlueBird Stone, it's a business boom.

"We run 24 hours a day, six days a week now. We've put in several new pieces of equipment to ramp up production for the Gathering Place,” Caldwell said.

BlueBird now has 100 employees; it's added more saws to handle the blocks and more finishing equipment to turn out the pattern called "Wildhorse Swirl."

The pattern is unique to LeFlore County and was only discovered six years ago. It's being installed for the first time at the Gathering Place.