TLO Travelogue: The Holy City of the Wichitas

Every January, I go on an annual Dudes Cabin Trip excursion with my best Dude Friends. It’s mostly just all of us drinking and smoking our respective weights in Banquet beer and legal herbal medicine. We watch bad movies and cook and hike and eat snacks and exist for a weekend in a region where none of us have cell phone reception. It’s great and relaxing and not worth boring you with the rest of the details.

This year, we found a remote cabin just northwest of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It was scenic and there was cow shit all over the acreage and the wind was constantly whipping. We saw buffalo and cows and families of deer jumping over fences and all the other things you expect to see when you’re near Mount Scott.

But something that was new to me was the Holy City. I’d never heard of this weird roadside oddity, but my friend Randy insisted we check it out on our way back home on Sunday.

According to Atlas Obscura, the Holy City was started in 1926, and later turned into a WPA project (which seems like some separation of church/state, but what do I know?). The idea was to have a spot in the glorious area of Mount Scott where Catholics could put on passion plays every year. Allegedly, it’s the longest running Easter service in the country, according to a sign they had posted that I didn’t take a picture of because I didn’t realize I would want to write about it until I got back home today.

This is thankfully the only photo that my ancient, busted-lensed phone could capture, but it goes a long way to describe the atmosphere [Photo credit to Big R for the rest of these]. The first building we walked in contained a canned voice perpetually reading an Easter service. Behind a set of bars was all these plastic figures doing… whatever they are doing. Not really sure what this is supposed to depict, but we were hitting sick vape rips so that might have clouded my understanding.

There is a selection of mossy stone dioramas placed around the area that are glassed in. They all host cheap ceramics from Mardel featuring traditional Jesus stuff. The one that was supposed to portray Judas was smashed in and the diorama was missing. Speaking of Judas…

That’s my friend Randy (PLUG ALERT: Randy co-hosts Mondo Mondays with me at Ponyboy, check us out and see weird movies for free every Monday at 9PM). The tree is supposed to replicate the tree Judas was hung from. I guess? I don’t know much about this particular myth, but I’ll roll with it.

While crawling around this weird park, there are lots of empty stone buildings and places to climb up, and chairs/make-shift thrones for some reason. It probably makes sense in context of the passion plays they do, but for heathens like us it’s basically a chance to get photo ops sitting on some wobbly rocks.

My favorite character of the bible was always Lazerus. He could raise his hands and go ‘PEW PEW PEW PEW’ and shoot beams at his enemies. Or was he a EDM DJ? I can’t remember.

There’s also a set of crucifixes and a boat and a bunch of rocks and locked doors that I sure as hell tried to get into but couldn’t. I had been to Mount Scott like four or five times before, but never even knew this existed. It’s worth spending 20 minutes to wander around next time you’re in Lawton to join the Army or get murdered or whatever else happens there.

Before we left, obviously there was a gift shop trip that had to be fulfilled. My goal was to find a branded shot glass, which is a universal gift shop item, and also Catholics are fine with the booze. I left empty handed, which was unfortunate not only because they didn’t have what I was looking for, but also because the several staff members in the backroom were having a loud and heated conversation that was more important than greeting us or even popping their heads out to see who jingled the door.

It’s a quick trip from OKC, worth checking out for the weirdness (but mostly the beautiful surrounding wilderness), so next time you’ve got a weekend off and want to see a bunch of janky stone buildings that are meant to represent Jerusalem, check out the Holy City.

And if you go to the gift shop, don’t let this haunt your dreams: