'Pioneer Woman Effect' Makes Pawhuska A Boom Town Again

Friday, February 17th 2017, 4:27 pm

If you've been to Pawhuska in the last couple of months, you know it's not a sleepy, rundown town anymore.

"I'm obsessed with the Pioneer Woman," said Courtney Starks, a Missouri resident.

This is the new normal in town. Reminiscent of Pawhuska as it used to be.

"When you come to the Osage, it doesn't take you very long to figure out there's an underlying story," said Joyce Lyons, Osage County Historical Society Museum.

Lyons says Pawhuska was once the wealthiest town in the world.

"Business deals were made and oil was drilled," she said.

The town thrived for years, then in the 80s, something changed. Storefronts closed, businesses left town, buildings started to deteriorate, casting a shadow on the once booming city.

"And it just kind of... Lyons: Dried up. Yes it did." Lyons said.

But The Pioneer Woman's brand, her popularity, has changed all that.    

"We watch her every Saturday," said Christy Prescott; Oklahoma City resident. 

Since Ree Drummond opened The Mercantile on Halloween in 2016, tourists from all over the globe have come to visit.

As the Drummond fans roll into town, so does their money. In just three months, the city's sales tax revenue has jumped nearly $65,000 compared to the same three months from the previous year.    

It's a comeback the town has been waiting for.

The rebirth of Pawhuska is really rebuilding history, taking what is old and making it new again. New shops are opening and historic buildings that have been decaying for decades are being restored.

That includes the town's iconic 1912 Triangle Building. Many feared would eventually be torn down. Instead the developer, Brickhugger, says the five-story building will soon house 20 apartments and retail space on the ground floor.

Work on the Triangle Building Should be finished by the end of the year.

Some might say it's the Pioneer Woman effect. Whatever you want to call it, this old boom town is booming again.

Drummond and her husband are renovating another downtown building, but they've not said how they'll use it.


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