Tulsa, Oklahoma: Golden Driller: Titanic Oil Man

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

Visitor Tips and News About Golden Driller: Titanic Oil Man

Reports and tips from RoadsideAmerica.com visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

Golden Driller - Oil Man statue

My great-grandfather, Ralph Seegren I, was the son of a prostitute, born in Sweden. She left him in an orphanage as a young boy. At age 14, he climbed the fence and ran away. He found his mother on a street corner, talking with a customer. When he approached her, she pretended not to know who he was. He went to the boat docks and got a job working on a ship bound for America. There he met my great-grandmother, Lillian Mae Hillblom, who had also immigrated from Sweden. She was one of eleven children -- she and her sister had drawn the longest straws, allowing them to come to the USA and work as indentured servants for two years, in exchange for their boat passage. Ralph and Lillian met in Kansas, then settled in Tulsa, OK, where he established what became the largest paint contracting company in the city. His son, my grandfather, Ralph "Bud" Seegren II was the first person to paint the Golden Driller.

[September Brown, 09/19/2005]

Feb. 2006: Carolyn Myers takes issue with this account: "September Brown states her grandfather, Ralph "Bud" Seegren was one of the first to paint the Golden Driller. That is quite a statement, even though it's false. My grandfather, Roger Seegren (Bud's brother) was actually the one who did the painting."


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

4145 E. 21st St. S., Tulsa, OK
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.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Statue Reading a NewspaperStatue Reading a Newspaper, Tulsa, OK - 2 mi.
Meadow Gold Milk SignMeadow Gold Milk Sign, Tulsa, OK - 3 mi.
Two Sides of Freedom: Chainsaw TreeTwo Sides of Freedom: Chainsaw Tree, Tulsa, OK - 3 mi.
In the region:
Bronze Buffalo, Sapulpa, OK - 12 mi.

Latest Tips Across Roadside America

Catch up on the latest discoveries from the road.

Explore Thousands of Oddball Tourist Attractions!

Unique destinations in the U.S. and Canada are our special obsession. Use our attraction recommendation and maps to plan your next road trip.

November 22, 2017

My Sights

My Sights

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Oklahoma Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Ruby City Museum, Franklin, North Carolina (Nov 20-26, 2017)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now