City Of Pawnee Still Feels Effects Of Historic Earthquake 4 Years Later

Thursday, September 3rd 2020, 6:25 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

PAWNEE, Okla. -

Thursday marks four years since Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake on record, and the city of Pawnee is still working to put their town back together.

The town has made progress repairing the damage around town from the 5.8 magnitude earthquake. 

At the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum, the earthquake damaged every structure at the site and renovations are still underway.

The 110-year-old Pawnee Bill Mansion has been under repair for nearly two years. Workers put in new steps but kept every single one of the old stones.

"It makes me happy to see all the major repair work that's been done,” Ronny Brown, Historic Manager said.

Brown said where repairs were needed, every stone was taken down, then they carefully placed them back in their original spots.

"It's so tedious,” Brown said. “To think that they took every rock off of the walls, laid them in rows on the ground and put them back where they were, and it looks just like it did before, except without the cracks."

So far, repairs have cost nearly $2 million, considering insurance and state funding.

Four years ago, stones were scattered across the sidewalk at what was Pawnee Bill’s bank in downtown.

The owner of a tag agency and headquarters for a photography group called "Forgotten Oklahoma" took on the task of restoring that 102-year-old building.

"I think it's the coolest building in town,” Amy Hedges, founder of Forgotten Oklahoma, said.

Hedges bought it almost two years ago, keeping the original ceiling and floors.

“This was Pawnee Bill's bank, and so we just tried to make it have that vintage feel, like it was when it was a bank,” Hedges said.

Looking back at that shaky September day, people in Pawnee take pride in how far they’ve come, even if it means putting things back together one stone at a time.

“That was really scary, honestly,” Hedges said.

Renovations at the ranch are expected to be done by next spring and visitors can expect some new exhibits by then as well. The Ranch is currently open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday and

“Pawnee Bill, I think, is looking down very proud,” Brown said.