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Seattle Parks: Oxbow Park

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 8, 2015
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11113072_10206317077543177_3209106952138144481_n-2Sorry, Texas. The world’s biggest cowboy hat and boots belong to us. Georgetown’s Oxbow Park, to be specific.

It’s a tiny park, smaller than a single acre. It’s a local person’s park, unnoticed by most in Seattle. But Oxbow Park has a 44-ft wide cowboy hat and a pair of 22-ft high boots. If that were 44 and 22 inches, it would still be huge. But in feet? Let’s put it this way: The hat used to serve as a gas station’s main office and each boot used to hold a bathroom.

The giant cowboy pieces are called Hat ‘n’ Boots, and they’re relics from a 1954 gas station called “Premium Tex.” The western-themed gas station was a hit back in those post-War years; for a while, it was the best-selling gas station in the state. Everyone wanted to fill up at a giant cowboy hat and take a bathroom break inside matching Cowgirl/Cowboy boots.

Premium Tex had plans to develop an entire cowboy-themed shopping center, but when the brand new I-5 was built in the sixties, the interstate diverted traffic away from the gas station and the booming business dried up faster a gold rush. It was the real-life plot of Cars, and it happened right in our back yard.

Hat ‘n’ Boots decayed. Vandals cracked the brim of the 44-ft wide cowboy hat. The boots traded their original paint for graffiti. The future of the beloved Hat ‘n’ Boots looked bleak.

But a local community council stepped up. They raised money to move Hat ‘n’ Boots to Oxbow Park in 2003, and two years later, they fixed up the Boots. In 2010, they restored the Hat.

“The Hat n’ Boots is as important to Georgetown as the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco,” said Allan Phillips, former director of the Georgetown Community Council. “If the Hat n’ Boots were ever to be gone from Georgetown, it would be like losing our soul.”

As temperatures rise and the sun starts shining again, consider a visit to Oxbow Park. In addition to Hat ‘n’ Boots, Oxbow Park has a playground, a P-Patch, and a picnic table. It’s not big enough for a nice jog, it doesn’t offer views of the Sound, and it doesn’t have volleyball or bonfires—but who needs those when Oxbow Park has the world’s biggest cowboy hat and cowboy boots, with plenty of Seattle history and community support to boot?