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Tulsa's Golden Driller gets a makeover

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Posted at 10:58 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 12:14:57-04

TULSA, Okla — Tulsa iconic Golden Driller statue now has a revamped home, after the dedication of a $3.4 million development for the new Golden Driller Plaza on Thursday.

"The Historic Golden Driller is a Tulsa icon, we are so excited to finally be updating the area around him. This park-like setting will enhance the experience for all who enter our facilities, as well as the many visitors who capture their souvenir photo with the icon," said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

SEE MORE: Photos of new Golden Driller plaza

The project started in March 2021 with funding from Vision Tulsa, Tulsa County and Expo Square aimed at enhancing the area around one of Tulsa's most visited landmarks.

What's New?

Changes include moving the main drive lanes to provide a more efficient entrance and exit to the building and a welcoming entrance. The goal included created a safer environment for guests visiting the area to see the Driller.

"We are very pleased with this opportunity to update the Golden Driller Plaza. One of our main goals with this project is to improve the flow of traffic around the Plaza entrance, while increasing pedestrian safety. The updates will also improve informative signage for visitors and complement the other improvements we have made with Vision Tulsa funding," said Ron Peters, Tulsa County Commissioner.

Here's a look at the area before and after the project.

Why Now?

The Golden Driller, originally built as a temporary exhibit during the 1953 Petroleum Expo, quickly became a landmark. The Oklahoma Legislature officially named the Driller as the state monument in 1979. So why the remodel now?

"This is our front door, and we want to showcase Expo Square by making an excellent first impression. This project does just that, while improving the safety and convenience of guests attending our events. We consistently strive to improve Expo Square, positioning the facility to attract and retain events for Tulsa County." Expo Square has a steady emphasis on progress and construction, catapulted by the dynamic needs of clients and events. The goal is to never have a finish line, and always position Expo Square to be an economic engine for Tulsa County," said Tulsa County Commissioner Stan Sallee.

The remodel and dedication coincided with the announcement of new naming rights for the Expo Square with SageNet, a Tulsa based managed network and cybersecurity services company.

Who is the Golden Driller?

The Driller is now one of the best known landmarks in Green Country, and statewide, but that wasn't the original purpose.

First built by the Mid-Continent Supply company in 1952 as a feature of the International Petroleum Exposition, that version was removed after the exposition ended. Six years later another one was build for the 1959 show and was a big hit with the crowds, so the company donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority and it was permanently installed.

After some minor changes, adding Tulsa to the belt buckle and resting his hand on an old oil derrick from Seminole, the Golden Driller became a permanent fixture in Tulsa and a tourist attraction for people across the world.

The inscription at the base of the statue reads: "The Golden Driller, a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God's abundance a better life for mankind."

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