PONCA CITY -- E.W. Marland died half a century ago, but his

legacy remains alive here.

Marland's life ran to legendary proportions. The Pennsylvania

native won and lost an oil fortune in West Virginia, a much

larger one in Oklahoma, was a high-stakes gambler, lived

lavishly, spent great amounts on his community and his workers,

was a businessman with a strong social conscience, an enthusiastic

conservationist and gardener.

He had boom-and-bust times in politics as well as oil. After

losing his independent Marland Oil Co. to financial sharks

led by the younger J.P. Morgan, Marland a Democratic convert

and ardent New Dealer won a term in Congress and one as

Oklahoma's governor. Two bids for the U.S. Senate were unsuccessful.

After his first wife died in 1926, he created controversy

by having the legal status of their adopted daughter, Lydie,

changed so he could marry her.

He drilled for and found oil from the Appalachians to California,

over much of the West and into Mexico. He pioneered in drilling

the rich Three Sands and Burbank fields of Oklahoma this

by a man trained as a lawyer, an early-day coal prospector

self-taught in geology.

He was someone not easily forgotten.

As if to make certain of that, two former Marland mansions

in Ponca City now are fascinating museums.

One, Marland's older and (relatively) smaller home, is a

more traditional museum. It has a fine, extensive collection

of American Indian artifacts plus early-day photos, sculpture,

a room devoted to the area's fabled 101 Ranch and another

honoring the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The other home is a monument to ego, elegance, exhibitionism

and enterprise.

Combined, the museums are an excellent excuse for the modest

drive from Tulsa. While visiting them, also see the 17-foot-tall

bronze `Pioneer Woman" statue Marland's gift to Oklahoma

in 1930 and adjacent museum.

The older Marland mansion, now the Ponca City Cultural Center

and Museums once was surrounded by 400 acres of gardens

and golf course. Even on today's much more modest lot, its

Mediterranean style is regal.

Its four stories include a 15-by-70-foot swimming pool in

the basement, and a large living room, sun room and library

on the first floor. The library has a mural of a fox-hunting

party. That blood sport and polo were two of Marland's favorites.

A former garage has been turned into a collection of Bryant

Baker's works. The renowned sculptor did the `Pioneer Woman"

statue. On his death, many of his busts of famous persons

were purchased for display here.

The museum's crowning attraction, how-ever, is room upon

room of Indian artifacts war bonnets, spears, beadwork,

saddles, blankets, baskets, pottery, axes, arrowheads, moccasins,

dresses, cradle boards, pipes, kachina dolls, paintings.

Quality and display are excellent.

On the outside, the building needs considerable patching.

LaWanda French, city director of cultural affairs, plans

major repairs, but said the city lacks funds for all the

work needed. Don't let peeling deter you, though; the mansion's

interior is striking.

Marland moved from his first mansion to his second in 1928.

It is gargantuan in scale 43,561 square feet of floor space

that cost $5.5 million more than six decades ago.

Marland's surrounding property once was 2,500 acres, including

a golf course, game preserve, polo fields and five lakes.

John Sutton,executive director of the Marland estate, said

the lands now total 31 acres.

The mansion could seem overbearing except for the superb

artwork, craftsmanship and use of furnishings.

The inner lounge in the basement has a colorful ceiling

that depicts Oklahoma's history from the pre-Columbian period

to the discovery of oil.

The dining room has a barrel-vault ceiling, English oak

paneling from a royal forest and gleaming silver sconces

(wall brackets for lights).

What appear to be gold mosaics on arches are cleverly crafted

oil paintings.

The huge, airy salon is a favorite, with striking floor

pattern, bamboo furniture and art.

Paneling in Marland's bedroom includes carved heads of two

favorite ponies bracketing crossed polo mallets.

Lydie Marland's bedroom is a soft combination of lime-wood

walls with delicate carvings and a pink marble fireplace.

The house had seven safes, including one for silverware

(the kitchen could handle dinners for 350 people). Walk-in

closets are larger than most folks' bedrooms. A call system

enabled people in any room to signal to the kitchen that

they needed refreshments.

Period furniture ranging from massive to dainty is spread

throughout the huge home. Much of it was owned by Marland.

The squeeze of the Great Depression and an unfriendly takeover

of Marland Oil by Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) forced Marland

out of the oil business and soon out of his new home, which

became too expensive for daily upkeep.

He and Lydie moved to the adjacent artists' studio, using

the mansion only for special occasions. Shortly before he

died in 1941, Marland sold the mansion and remaining grounds

to the Carmelite Friars for a reported $66,000.

Both museums have rooms devoted to the 101 Ranch, that great

spread of the Miller brothers near Ponca City that once covered 110,000

acres in four counties. Marland and the equally interesting

Millers were friends.

The 101 may have been the greatest diversified farm in America,with

thousands of cattle and hogs, hundreds of horses, vast acreage

in wheat, cotton and other crops, fruit and pecan trees

and much more.

Because oil was discovered on the ranch, it had its own

refinery. It also had a packing house, tannery, power plant,

cannery, dairy and other enterprises.

For years, the 101's Wild West show toured the United States

and Europe, and movies were made on the ranch's broad lands.

Future actors Tom Mix and Hoot Gibson got their starts there;

a photo shows Mix as a member of a ranch baseball team.

Bill Pickett, the black cowboy who invented bulldogging,

was a featured performer for decades.

Numerous photos of frontier towns, Indians, oil-boom times

and the ranch await visitors at each museum.

In one outbuilding of the second mansion, two rooms hold

a petroleum exhibit and Marland memorabilia.

The museums provide insight on Marland's fascinating character

-on a man who loved an opulent lifestyle, yet championed

good wages and working conditions for his employees and

welfare programs for those in need.

They also depict the frontiersmen and Indians who helped

to shape that character.

It was a time and land where fox hunters could end up chasing a coyote.

Information

Marland Mansion and Estate

WHERE Monument Road, Ponca City 74604. Located about two

blocks north of Pioneer Woman statue; take U.S. 77 up east

side of Ponca City, then curve between statue and museum

on east side of 77 to reach Monument.

HOURS Open daily noon to 4 p.m. September through May; 10

a.m. to 5 p.m. during summer. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas

and New Year's Day.

TOURS Guided tours 1:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; 1:30 and 2

p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Pamphlet available for self-guided tours.

COST Adults $4, senior citizens $3, students (6-17) $1.50,

under 6 free.

INFORMATION Call 1-800-532-7559 and ask for mansion, or

405-767-0420.

Ponca City Cultural Center and Museums

WHERE 1000 E. Grand, Ponca City 74601, east of downtown

on Business U.S. 60.

HOURS Monday, Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday

1 to 5 p.m; closed Tuesday. Also closed Thanksgiving, Christmas

Eve and Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

COST $1 for non-Ponca City residents.

INFORMATION 405-767-0427.