Tulsa, Oklahoma: Golden Driller: Titanic Oil Man

One of the tallest statues in America, the Golden Driller has survived tornadoes and turbulent oil markets.

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Roustabird. Golden Driller - Oil Man statue has a pal

The giant Tulsa Oil Man Statue now has a little friend at his feet: the Roustabird. It appears to be a statue of a filthy oil drilling penguin in overalls and a hard hat (like his giant master).

[Todd Kent, 08/30/2003]

Tipster David Carlson writes that "The penguin in front of the Tulsa, OK, Golden Driller is one of Tulsa's "Penguins on Parade," a local art project to raise funds for the Tulsa Zoo's new penguin habitat."

Golden Driller - Oil Man statue

The infamous "Golden Driller" oil man statue in Tulsa now sports several necklaces of love beads. I'm not sure how long they will be up, but I believe they were put there to call attention to an art exhibit at the Philbrook, oddly enough (the Philbrook is a hoity-toity museum housed in the old Waite Phillips -- of Phillips Petroleum -- home in Tulsa.) You might also like to know that occasionally a local classic rock radio station, KMOD "The Rainbow Station," dresses the Driller in a T-shirt with their logo.

Apparently the love beads on the statue have created a stir among certain elements in Tulsa, who believe that bead necklaces make the Driller somewhat unmanly. Why people feel this way about a hollow statue which is probably anatomically incorrect is beyond me.

[Amie, 03/10/1999]
Golden Driller - Oil Man statue

Tulsa's "Golden Boy" (nickname in my clique, at least) deteriorated over several years and was taken down, laid on its side for quite a while, then replaced in the mid-1970s. He looked a little more natural lying down, at certain times of day. The replacement had a spookier face than the original -- a really creepy grin.

The building behind the Golden Driller, the International Petroleum Exhibition (IPE) Building, had (still has, AFAIK) the distinction of having the world's largest unobstructed interior volume. There are no supporting beams or columns inside it -- they're all on the outside, holding up the roof with cables, sorta like a suspension bridge. (A few of the outside support beams and cables appear in your photo.) Reason: some of the equipment exhibited at the IPE was BIG. Trucks with three-story-high tires, derricks, and so forth.

Tulsa became "Oil Capital of the World" in the 1920's after some largest-known-at-that-time oil reservoirs were discovered near it. At one time, it had headquarters of over 10,000 oil companies. Many of those were one- or two-man, but there were lots of big ones. The Getty family wealth was founded there and then, and there were plenty of other hundred-millionaires (multibillionaires, in today's dollars).

[Richard B. Woods, 05/22/1998]
Golden Driller - Oil Man statue

The giant oil man statue in Tulsa, OK, is locally known as the "Golden Driller." It was put up for an International Petroleum Exhibition in 1966. Isn't it hideous? My boyfriend and I hate it, and take a devious glee in dragging out-of-town friends to view its misshappen charms. It is apparently hollow, as we have knocked (hard) on its Frankenstein-like shoe and heard it echo. There are also tales of wandering kitties climbing up inside it and getting stuck, forcing their owners to clamber inside to retrieve it after knocking unsightly holes through it.

There has been some talk here recently of moving the Golden Driller to another part of the Tulsa Fair Grounds where it currently resides, away from the road and the threat of doom it seems to cast on passing motorists, but I believe whoever is in charge of this endeavor ultimately decided to leave the Golden Mutant be.

[Amie, 04/01/1998]

Golden Driller: Titanic Oil Man

Tulsa State Fairground

Address:
4145 E. 21st St. S., Tulsa, OK
Directions:
On the Tulsa State Fairground, at the corner of E 21st St. S. and S. Pittsburg Ave.In front of the International Petroleum Exhibition Building on the Tulsa Fairgrounds. I-244 exits 9 or 10. Drive south to E. 21st St. S., then turn east (from 9) or west (from 10). On the north side of E. 21st St. S.
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