D.W. Correll spent his long life collecting anything he thought was interesting; then he gave it to his favorite Oklahoma town

Great State

CATOOSA, Okla. (KFOR) — If it was in the ground he liked it.

“We have more than 5,000 rocks and minerals here,” says curator Eric Hamshar.

If you could play with it, he liked it.

“Toys,” he says as he continues pointing to a series of displays.

If you could drive it, he liked that too.

D.W. Correll grew up a child of the Great Depression and a collector of everything made before or since.

“Was there any end to his interests,” asks a museum visitor.

Hamshar chuckles, “There doesn’t appear to be.”

He runs the D.W. Correll Museum, now which houses more than 20,000 artifacts.

“He traveled the world collecting this stuff,” says Eric.

It was D.W. who collected everything – the Tulsa newspaper clippings, the cars, including rare ones like this 1898 Steamer, or a 1906 Purple Cadillac (purple was the original color).

Hamshar says the official name for it was, “Hurley’s Purple Lake.”

Correll worked on airplanes for years at the Tulsa McDonnell-Douglas plant, but he spent all his off-time scrounging the country for stuff.

“Farm equipment, tools, wagons, surreys, bottles, antique toys, all kinds of goodies.”

He was extremely interested in the history of zinc and lead mining in Northeast Oklahoma.

His collection of pictures and mining equipment fills a display cabinet.

“It was the leading industry there for more than a century,” says Hamshar.

D.W. didn’t mind tipping a bottle now and then either, especially if that bottle was interesting or rare.

‘In his cups’ or not, he never stopped.

The collection of tools made sense, but he also assembled a big collection of jacks.

If he thought something was interesting, it went into the collection.

He even kept a mummified cat he found in an abandoned building.

“I guess he thought it was cool,” Eric shrugs, “and kept him.”

When someone passes away, it’s pretty common for an auctioneer or estate sale agency to help sell off all the items the remaining family no longer wants.

D.W. didn’t want to do that, so he made a deal with the City of Catoosa and gave it all away as long as leaders there promised to keep his little museum open.

Eric says, “the city has been in charge of the museum since 1999.”

Through storms, a housing crisis, busts, booms and a pandemic, the Correll Museum stays open just the way D.W. planned it.

Hamshar says, “I’d like to think he’s looking down on us, and is proud of what we’re doing here.”

The D.W. Correll Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, a block off Route 66 in Catoosa.

Admission is $3 for adults and free for children 18 or under.

For more information, go to www.cityofcatoosa.org.

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