To the delight of small visitors to Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, there is a small sandstone lioness residing there. She is a tame lioness who loves children and thrives on "make-believe.” She was chiseled by Ed Galloway, circa 1915, and was donated to the park by Galloway's grandson, Gary Galloway. But did you know this lioness is not an orphan? She has a family - a father, a mother, and a little baby cub sibling.
Sculptor Nathan Edward Galloway is best-known in Rogers County for his brightly colored, unforgettable totems on display to the public at his iconic sculpture park, 3.5 miles east of Route 66 on Oklahoma State Highway 28A, Chelsea, Oklahoma. But before Galloway began his concrete and rebar Totem Pole Park features, circa 1937, he carved many intriguing structures from huge sycamore tree stumps and created exquisite wood furniture with intricate inlay designs [Tulsa Daily World, 8-2-1914].
When one of Galloway’s large sycamore sculptures caught the eye of Oklahoma philanthropist Charles Page, in 1914, Page was so impressed with Galloway’s skill and character that he invited Galloway to become the manual arts instructor at Page’s Sand Springs Boy’s Home. “In securing the services of Mr. Galloway, the boys at the home [received] practical instruction in all kinds of wood work, including cabinet making…” [Sand Springs Leader, 8-13-1914]. But that was just the beginning.
At first glance, the lone sandstone sculpted lioness seemed to be a departure from Galloway’s usual wooden bird and reptile carvings, and his concrete Native American totem pole subjects, or was it?
One sentence in the book, Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park (page 27), written by Oklahoma historian John Wooley, gives a clue. "Although he used 'we' when talking about who worked on the pair of 10-ton sandstone lions made for the park (at Sand Springs), they were undoubtedly crafted largely by Mr. Galloway, with a little help from his students. (After guarding the entrance of the Sand Springs Park for years, the statues were moved to the Sand Springs Home's entrance where they still stand today.)" Eureka! More stone lions were crafted by Ed Galloway, and they still exist!
When Ed Galloway retired from the Sand Springs Home in 1937, he left the “lion’s share” of his pride of lions there to watch over the children. One simple fieldtrip to the Sand Springs Home confirms this lions' tale. But Galloway’s small sandstone lioness stayed in the midst of the Galloway family watching over his grandson. Now this Queen of the Jungle holds court at Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park for the pleasure of all, young and old, who wish to make her acquaintance. Why not stop by and say, “Hi.”
This article appeared in The Claremore Progress, June 19, 2021.