Ponca City is a small city in Kay and Osage counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, which was named after the Ponca Tribe. Located in north central Oklahoma, it lies approximately 18 miles (29 km) south of the Kansas border, and approximately 15 miles (24 km) east of Interstate 35. 25,387 people called Ponca City home at the time of the 2010 census, making it the largest city in Kay County. The city is near the Arkansas River, the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, Kaw Lake, and Lake Ponca, which all provide numerous recreational opportunities.
Pioneer Woman statue and museum:
Ponca City is the site of the Pioneer Woman Museum and the Pioneer Woman statue. The statue was erected to commemorate women pioneers. In the early 1920s, E. W. Marland decided to create a statue commemorating the Pioneer Woman. Marland was reportedly asked, "E. W., why don't you have ... a statue to the vanishing American, a Ponca, Otoe, or an Osage - a monument of great size?" Marland answered, "the Indian is not the vanishing American - it's the pioneer woman." He sponsored a competition for the winning statue. In 1928, miniature 3 feet (0.9 m) sculptures were submitted as part of a competition by 12 U.S. and international sculptors: John Gregory, Maurice Sterne, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, James Earle Fraser, Alexander Stirling Calder, Wheeler Williams, Mario Korbel, F. Lynn Jenkins, Mahonri Young, Arthur Lee, Jo Davidson and Bryant Baker). They were displayed in twelve cities around the state, where they were viewed by 750,000 people who voted for their favorite. The twelve original submissions have been on display at the museum at Woolaroc near Bartlesville, Oklahoma since the 1930s. Marland sold them to Frank Phillips after losing control of the Marland Oil Company.
The British-born American sculptor Bryant Baker was chosen as the winner. His full-scale work was unveiled in a public ceremony on April 22, 1930. Forty thousand guests came to hear Will Rogers pay tribute to Oklahoma's pioneers. The statue is 27 feet (8.2 m) high and weighs 12,000 pounds. A related museum commemorating Oklahoma women was opened on September 16, 1958, on the 65th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip land run. It recognizes the work of Native American as well as European-American women, and their leadership and stamina in creating homes, raising children and taking care of the work of sustaining life and communities.