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Great State: Did You Know in Poteau

POTEAU, OKLAHOMA — Did you know this building used to be the Lowrey Hotel?

Now, it’s the newest museum in Poteau.

The old coffee shop downstairs is full of pictures and stories of local law and outlaw, Lighthorse and light fingers.

The bank across the street was robbed by Bonnie and Clyde four months before their careers in crime ended.

Local historian Eric Standridge says, “This area was known for a lot of outlaw activity.”

Standridge is helping place dozens of exhibits in the old Lowrey, which is now the new home of the Leflore County Historical Society.

“This is kind of a crossroads for history,” remarks a visitor.

“Yeah. It is,” agrees Standridge.

The old hotel still looks pretty good.

Take trip upstairs and you can still find a room set up just like it used to be.

Room 110 is supposed to be haunted. “Allegedly,” humphs Standridge.

Poteau history has a long of ‘did you knows’ that most people forgot or just plain didn’t know.

Standridge says, “It’s going to take several years of archiving.”

For instance, did you know the Frensh used to have a fur trading post a the foot of Cavanal Hill?

Poteau is french for post.

You might know about the Heavener Runestone but did you know the Vikings are supposed to have left even more messages around?

There’s a Poteau Runestone, a Shawnee Runestone, and a whole pile of runestones no one can read.

There is still a big debate about whether the Vikings actually made them too.

“A lot of people don’t believe it,” Eric says, “But I’m pretty well convinced.”

On the third floor of the old hotel is a story that really did happen.

In 1944, a Lt. named Clarence Coggins convinced more than 900 German soldiers to surrender.

He did this by himself.

Coggins was from Poteau.

Standridge says, “He had them believing the entire allied army had them surrounded.”

This part of Oklahoma is a colorful place.

It’s always been that way.

There are lots of interesting ‘did you knows’ if you know where to look.

The Lowrey Hotel Museum is still placing new exhibits brought out from storage.

For hours and exhibits go to http://www.leflorecountyhistoricalsocietymuseum.webs.com