(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

This space cowboy and his Route 66 souvenir shop are out of this world

Following is a guest blog by Sweetums, who really got a kick out of this place.

By Wil Elrick

If you have never seen a 21-foot-tall space cowboy holding a rocket ship, you are missing out, my friend. If you have absolutely no idea of what I am talking about and are wondering “why would a such a thing exist?”, I am here to enlighten you.

I am talking about the literally and figuratively larger-than-life “Buck Atom,” a roadside figure located on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He stands beside a quirky little souvenir shop.

Buck has an awesome fictional backstory, as told by the shop’s owner. Buck was a rodeo cowboy who made his way through the Oklahoma rodeo circuit until 1953, when he suddenly vanished. Well, he didn’t actually vanish, he was taken aboard an alien spacecraft. He then spent the next 66 years be-bopping across the cosmos until he learned that “The Mother Road” (aka Route 66) was in need of help and he came back to earth landing at “Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios” and instantly became a Route 66 goodwill ambassador.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa, Okla. (Photo by Wil Elrick)

The real story of Buck Atom is not as fantastical, but just as compelling. He is a re-purposed muffler man who served his first duties as a cowboy-hat wearing muffler man in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Click here to read the history of Muffler Men.

He eventually fell into disrepair and ended up a junk yard where the awesome company American Giants rescued him in 2018 and turned him over to fiberglass artist Mark Cline to rebuild him. Check out their work here.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa, Okla. (Photo by Wil Elrick)

This happened to coincide with Mary Beth Babcock opening a small curio shop in a refurbished 1950s gas station. She had already created the mascot Buck Atom and she wanted to really showcase the character. Seeing various muffler men of Route 66 in her travels, she liked the idea of having her own. She was put in contact with Mark and the two worked together to create the towering tough guy.

While Mark was working on re-storing and re-configuring the muffler man local Tulsa, artist Chris Wollard was busy building the iconic rocket Buck is holding. The interesting thing here is that both projects were done separately and then combined to create the iconic mascot in time for his unveiling in May 2019.

While being the largest attraction at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios, he is far from the only one. There are cool murals, and a robot and all types of things to see that give a truly authentic Route 66 experience. The store features all sorts of memorabilia, with oddities thrown in there, as well. You can find your own smaller version of Buck Atom to bring home is easy breezy. I can’t say enough about how friendly the owner was. She was astute enough to notice my Sasquatch-related vehicle tag and immediately showed me her Sasquatch gift section when I entered, so that is always definitely a plus in my book. She obviously loved telling the story of Buck Atom and how her little shop came to be. So, if you happen down Tulsa way and decide to visit the Mother Road’s famous space cowboy be sure to veer in and do a little shopping at the coolest curios on this side of the cosmos.

You can also find the store at https://buckatomson66.com.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa, Okla. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa, Okla. (Photo by Wil Elrick)

Wil’s note: I bet you thought I was done there didn’t you? Besides just being cool, Buck Atom’s holds a special place for me in my heart. This will also give you a small glimpse into the weirdness of everyday life in Kelly’s and my household. When we visited Buck Atom’s, it was the last stop on that particular roadtrip before heading home. Sometime after we got home, I started with a funny saying. Now I will randomly tell Kelly in my best Robert Goulet voice “I Love You to Buck Atom and back – BABY!”

Kelly’s note: ***sigh*** (Seriously, my guy, who is almost as big as Buck Atom, is so sweet to me. The big nut).

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