Pawnee Bill Ranch: Touring Oklahoma’s Deep Past 

In the rural, unassuming town of Pawnee, Okla., a piece of history is presented to visitors. Pawnee Bill Ranch symbolizes the pioneering spirit of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The ranch is a preserved and revered part of Oklahoma’s past.  Gordon Lillie, who later took on the moniker Pawnee Bill while living and working with the people of the Pawnee tribe, lived from 1860 to 1942 and was an American showman who specialized in Wild West shows. To this day, the Pawnee Bill’s Original Wild West Show is held and recreated annually in early June at the Pawnee Bills Ranch, a ranch that also holds Lille’s 14-room mansion. 

Gordon Lillie, known as Pawnee Bill, purchased the land his ranch sits on from Pawnee Chief Blue Hawk in 1902. (Photo by Chase Goza)

Pawnee Bill Mansion 

The mansion has been preserved ever since the deaths of Pawnee Bill and his family, giving the whole building an eerie sense of nostalgia. Ghostly appearances have been sited of what some observed as the restless spirits of Pawnee Bill Ranch and its visitors. And to be honest, one can easily feel the haunting feeling of being watched by spirits that possibly still grace the mansion and its guests to this very day. 

An employee of the Pawnee Bill Ranch has offered evidence of the mansion’s eerie sightings. An apparition of the late stage and motion picture star Will Roger is said to have appeared in a mural owned by Pawnee Bill shortly a year after Roger’s passing in a plane crash in 1935. (Photo by Chase Goza) 

Not only are guests treated to a historical experience presented by the Oklahoma Historical Society at the Pawnee Bill Ranch, but there is a whole herd of bison and longhorn cattle who graze on the ranch’s grassy hills as well. 

A variety of Clydesdale horses, buffalo and longhorn cattle reside on Pawnee Bill Ranch. Joy is a longhorn calf born on Christmas Day. (Photo by Chase Goza)

Wild West Show 

The Wild West show is held annually in early June, and numerous other events occur at the ranch throughout the year. In October, guests are treated to a spooky night in the mansion, where only the security lights are on at night. An annual Easter egg hunt will be held on March 30, and a Sunrise Service is offered on Easter, March 31. The ranch is also in the Pawnee community, which is the home of Chester Gould, author of the Dick Tracy comic book series, and the Buffalo Theatre, where concerts are still hosted. 

Guests to Pawnee are treated to a taste of an era gone by for those looking for a return to simpler times. (Photo by Chase Goza)

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