New museum display features three decades of McLoud's blackberry history

The Shawnee News-Star
McLoud Historical Society.

After a year of hard work by many volunteers, interruptions by COVID-19, and cancellation of two annual fundraisers, McLoud Historical Society Museum and Heritage Center announces completion of a display featuring three decades of blackberries.

McLoud became known as The Blackberry Capital of the World, after a crate of blackberries was delivered to President Harry Truman, a donation from McLoud Blackberry Growers Association. A thank you letter from the President can be viewed in the display.

The Northwest corner of the large back bay in the museum now features a 1948 International pickup truck bought in McLoud by Chambless Farms and used in blackberry fields west of McLoud. With few exceptions, the pickup truck remains  in its original condition. The truck is surrounded by mounted photos of blackberry festivals during its heydays and features a five-foot by ten-foot enlarged poster of the 1950 McLoud Blackberry Festival. Crowns and other memorabilia worn by former blackberry queens are also featured in a lighted glass case. Surrounded by newly constructed blackberry shipping crates featuring laser printed original labels, the truck claims center stage beneath a street banner announcing the festival. A donated hand-made newspaper stand-up desk cradles a six-page story-board featuring McLoud’s love of blackberries from beginning to end.

McLoud area citizens are invited to donate blackberry memorabilia to fill a large antique wood and glass case set aside for that purpose. 

This special display was made possible through an Oklahoma Preservation grant administered through the Oklahoma State Historical Society. Thanks in part to recommendations by Oklahoma State Representative Zack Taylor and Oklahoma State Senator Ron Sharp. Special thanks to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and McLoud Chamber of Commerce, and also to BancFirst for a video featuring McLoud’s blackberry heritage. This project also included donations of time and energy from many individuals in the community who added their talents and stories to the project.

McLoud Historical Society Museum and Heritage Center will reopen January 8, 2021 following a holiday break. Hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Masks are required as recommended by McLoud Mayor Stan Jackson. For those who cannot come during that time frame, an appointment can be made by calling 405-264-3510 for a private or family opening.