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James Pratt

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Seaba Station Motorycle Museum in Warwick, Oklahoma is hosting their annual Cold Butt Motorcycle Ride to the museum on January 1, 2018. Plan to arrive at the museum at noon. The museum will be doing a raffle for a motorcycle, with the drawing being held at 1 pm. Yea, it might be cold, but layer up, turn on the heated vest, load up the kids in the truck and come out to the museum to see all the cool motorcycles and meet long-time friends.

There are dozens of cool old motorcycles to see, with an emphasis on old motocross, flat track and dirt bikes. Visitors from across the world stop by to see this eclectic collection of two-wheeled magic and the January 1 is a great way to start of the year with a ride to the museum to hang out with fellow motorcycle enthusiasts and see some old iron.

Every heard of a RUPP motorcycle? Me either. It has a SACHS engine and looks like a nice ride. Nobody knows because it has never been started.
Seaba Station co-owner and founder Gerald Tims (right) chats with John Vale from London who stopped while passing through on a ride across the US on Route 66
A 1941 DKW motorcycle – forerunner to modern day motocross bikes – is on display at the museum.

“Your bike is ready.”

I got a call today about 3 hours after dropping off my 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure at Eurotek in OKC for some recall and extended warranty work. When I saw the my caller ID I assumed they were calling with some type of question about maintenance.

“Did I hear you right? My bike is ready? Are you sure you have the right person? I just dropped it off.”

“Yep, we got it all done. You can stop by any time and pick it up.”

“I haven’t even left town yet. I will be right over.”

I thought I must have been in a time warp or something. Same day service from a motorcycle dealer? I quickly looked out the window of my truck to make sure there wasn’t a sun spot, or make sure Aston Kutcher wasn’t around to Punk me.

You see, I am used to the service at BMW of OKC from many years ago. I bought my first GS there in 2002 and by 2003 I learned that one doesn’t take one’s bike to the BMW store if you wanted to ride it anytime in the next two months. Instead I learned to work on my bikes myself so that I could actually get some riding time in during the summer. I learned to do tire changes, oil changes, valve adjustments, all the routine maintenance items. If not my bike would be gone for a month or two during riding season, even if I called well ahead of time, scheduled an appointment, brought the bike in the day I said I would bring it in – it would still sit at the BMW shop for 4 weeks before they even looked at it.

Finally a BMW dealer in OKC that provides outstanding service and does what they say they will do. Refreshing.
Finally a BMW dealer in OKC that provides outstanding service and does what they say they will do. Refreshing.

I had been putting off getting this recall and extended warranty work done on my R1200GS because I figured my bike would disappear into the maw of the bike shop and I wouldn’t see it again until months later. I finally broke down and called the new BMW dealer in OKC, Eurotek – now a BMW, Ducati, and Triumph dealer in OKC.

“Hey, I got a 2008 BMW R1200GSA that has some recall work needed. Can you guys do that for me?”

“What is your VIN number.” I gave them that info.

“We don’t have all the parts in but we will order the parts and give you call when they get in and schedule the work.”

Yea, yea I thought. SURE you will give me a call. I made a mental note to call Eurotek back in a couple of weeks to see if they got the parts in. Nobody calls you back like they say they will, right?

Lo and behold, I got a call two days later. “We have your parts in. When would you like to bring your bike in?”

“Huh? My name is James Pratt. Are you sure you are calling the correct number? I don’t own a Ferrari or Bentley.”

“Yes sir. This is Eurotek. You have a BMW R1200GS Adventure right?”

Yep, they had the correct person. We scheduled a time for the following week and I brought it in exactly when we agreed. Dropped my bike off on a cold, wet, rainy February day. I trailered the bike to the shop because I figured I would need to drop it off and then pick it up a few weeks later when it was done. I loaded up my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials bike beside the big GS and after dropping off my Beemer, I drove on down to Tombo Racing to have my racer/bike builder friend Jimmy Cook weld up the aluminum frame. Afterwards I hung around and chatted with owner Tommy Bolton, loaded up my Aprilia, ran another errand in Midwest City, and as I was leaving MWC for home in Edmond I got the call from Eurotek – “your bike is ready.”

Tombo Racing's Jimmy Cook welding the aluminum frame on my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials motorcycle.
Tombo Racing’s Jimmy Cook welding the aluminum frame on my Aprilia 280 Climber observed trials motorcycle.

I just knew two planets had slammed together, or one of these Oklahoma earthquakes had rattled someone’s brain, or maybe my friend and adventure rider guru Bill Dragoo was pulling my leg. Sure enough, I drove back over to Eurotek and there was my GS, all ready to go and running like a top. They replaced the fuel pump, fuel gage strip, did some adjustment on the clutch cable, and replaced some type of flange in the rear hub assembly. All at no cost to me, paid for my BMW Motorrad.

Dang. Double dang. These guys did what they said they would do. What a novel concept!

I normally don’t write a post about a motorcycle shop, but I normally don’t get unbelievable service like this either. People actually call me back? Exceed my expectations? Communicate clearly and do what they say they are going to do? Is this an alternate dimension?

If you are looking for a BMW, Ducati or Triumph, man, you will have to look far and wide to find a better dealer than Eurotek OKC. I am very, very pleasantly surprised that we have an A#1 top notch BMW dealer in OKC now. It is about time.

A Duc in the rain. This Ducati Diablo was sitting outside on a cold, rainy February day. Poor Duc.
A Duc in the rain. This Ducati Diablo was sitting outside on a cold, rainy February day. Poor Duc.

While searching the Internet for a story recently, I ran across a map and GPS waypoints showing the old Butterfield Overland Mail and Stagecoach route from St. Louis or Memphis to San Francisco and specifically, the route the stage took through southeast Oklahoma from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Denison, Texas. The stage line began in either St. Louis or Memphis and joined at Fort Smith, where the route was the same all the way to San Francisco. John W. Butterfield began the line in 1857 and it remained active until the Civil War began in 1861. The trip averaged about 25 days, and a two stagecoaches per week left either San Francisco on a Monday and Thursday morning. Passage cost $200 per person for the entire trip. The Butterfield Overland Stage Company had more than 800 people in its employ, had 139 relay stations, 1800 head of stock and 250 Concord Stagecoaches in service at one time.

As I looked at the route on Google Earth, I realized that nobody could actually ride the route today because of river crossings and private property issues. Most of the Oklahoma portion of the route followed existing highways and dirt roads, so I decided to map out this route through Oklahoma in a manner that someone on a dual sport motorcycle could actually ride.

This map shows the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage route across the southwest United States.
This map shows the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage route across the southwest United States.
Typical stage station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. This one is in Fort Chadbourne. "Fort Chadbourne Stage Station" by Pi3.124 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fort_Chadbourne_Stage_Station.jpg#/media/File:Fort_Chadbourne_Stage_Station.jpg"
Typical stage station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. This one is in Fort Chadbourne. “Fort Chadbourne Stage Station” by Pi3.124 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fort_Chadbourne_Stage_Station.jpg#/media/File:Fort_Chadbourne_Stage_Station.jpg”

Fort Chadbourne museum

Below is a picture of Trahern’s Station in Leflore County.
Trahern's Station

This marker is at the beginning of the Old Military Road from Fort Smith to Fort Towson. It also is where the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage Route began in Fort Smith in 1857.
This marker is at the beginning of the Old Military Road from Fort Smith to Fort Towson. It also is where the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage Route began in Fort Smith in 1857.

You can click the download link below this map to download my GPX file. Be aware that there are two tracks and one route in the file. The original track is labeled as V1 and is unrideable. The second track is labeled V2 and it includes both a “route” and a “track”. I recommend that you follow the “track”, not the “route, since each GPS routes slightly different and you may not be able to follow my tracks properly. So be sure and activate “Butterfield Overland Mail Stage tracks V2” on your GPS and try to follow that track. Let me know how it goes post pictures!

Below is a Google Map with both the original route and my updated tracks. I used Google Earth to try and map out a route that closely resembles the original route. Ride it and let me know if this works and whether I need to make updates. In particular, Pulsey’s Station might be a bit difficult to reach.

My wife Kay and I recently attended an “Intro to Observed Trials” school put on by Chris Johnson and his wife Claire at their Buffalo Dream Ranch in Lawton. The class taught us the basics of trials riding, with an emphasis on how those skills transfer to our normal everyday riding on dirt bikes, dual sport and adventure bikes.

I produced a quick podcast interview with Chris where he talks about the school, what skills you will learn, and what gear to bring.

Chris Johnson rides a wheelie past his class motorcycle. There is plenty of room to practice at their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson rides a wheelie past his class motorcycle. There is plenty of room to practice at their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson are wonderful hosts during their intro to observed trials school west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson are wonderful hosts during their intro to observed trials school west of Lawton.
May wife Kay and I attended Chris and Claire Johnson's observed trials school west of Lawton.
May wife Kay and I attended Chris and Claire Johnson’s observed trials school west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson jumps his trials motorcycle over a gap in the dirt at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson jumps his trials motorcycle over a gap in the dirt at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson both ride observed trials motorcycles.
Chris and Claire Johnson both ride observed trials motorcycles.
Chris and Claire Johnson raise belted Galloway beef cattle on their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson raise belted Galloway beef cattle on their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson is an expert level observed trials rider who teaches an intro to trials riding course at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson is an expert level observed trials rider who teaches an intro to trials riding course at his ranch west of Lawton.
Claire Johnson cooks awesome food for the trials riding class attendees.
Claire Johnson cooks awesome food for the trials riding class attendees.

Today I sat down with my good friend Tommy Bolton with Tombo Racing just to check up on what his team of go-fast guys have been doing lately. I just happened to have some time free and was driving by his place and had my gear, so here you go!

Tommy tells us that this has been his busiest year in drag racing in quite some time. In addition to competing in the PMRA series in Tulsa, they have been to ManCup races in Memphis, to Fontana California for some west coast races, and to Louisiana for a bit of racing – all with good results and several 6 second passes, quite a few wins, and one championship.

Tombo Racing Bagger in white.
Tombo Racing Bagger in white.

In addition, this year Tommy started building his own Tombo Racing performance bagger motorcycles. These are not some chopped up custom bike, but instead the frames have an MSO and are custom built by Tombo Racing. This means the bike can be insured and financed like any other production motorcycle. Big front wheels are the “thing” in the bagger world, and Tommy has bikes with 26″ wheels and one in the shop with a 30″ that will be out soon. Pretty sweet looking.

So cue up your phone and get the update on Oklahoma’s own Tombo Racing for 2015.

A few miles east of Shawnee lies the ghost town of Earlsboro. Actually the town still exists today with a few small businesses – namely a tag agency and a restaurant, along with several homes. It offers quite a history, having been through two boom and bust cycles before 1940.

Earlsboro is worth the visit to stop and grab a fried pie or hamburger at David’s Cafe. A transplant from California, David moved to Oklahoma to be closer to his grandkids. He serves up the small town staple of hamburgers, daily specials, and fried pies. Many days you will find locals at the back table. Be sure and give them a shout and learn a bit of history about the area. David has a lot of old pictures from Earlsboro’s boom days on the walls.

Downtown Earlsboro circa 2015
Downtown Earlsboro circa 2015
David's Cafe in Earlsboro is a great place to stop and grab lunch.
David’s Cafe in Earlsboro is a great place to stop and grab lunch.
Be sure and talk to David and the locals at the cafe.
Be sure and talk to David and the locals at the cafe.
Grab a fresh cooked fried pie at David's Cafe.
Grab a fresh cooked fried pie at David’s Cafe.
Old pictures from Earlsboro's past adorn the walls of David's Cafe.
Old pictures from Earlsboro’s past adorn the walls of David’s Cafe.

Although not exactly a ghost town, Earlsboro is listed as such in John W. Morris’ book “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma“.

COUNTY: Pottawatomie
LOCATION; (a) Sec. 8, T 9 N, R 5 E (b) 4‘/2 miles south, 7 miles east of Shawnee; 7 miles east of Tecumseh
POST OFFICE: June 12, 1895-
NEWSPAPERS: Earlsboro Border Journal; Earlsboro Echo; Earlsboro Plain People; Earlsboro Times; Earlsboro Journal; Earlsboro Messenger
RAILROAD: Choctaw Coal and Railroad Company (Rock Island)

Earlsboro has twice been a boom town of considerable importance and twice a decaying, disintegrating, and dilapidated village. It was formed in 1891 a few days after the Choctaw Coal and Railroad Company extended its tracks westward from the Seminole Nation. The town was platted under the name of Boom-De-Ay. A post office by the name of Tum was moved to the new site, and the name was changed to Earlsboro.

Ealrsboro, 1926. Five miles of traffic in the nearby oil fields slowed or stopped as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding.
Ealrsboro, 1926. Five miles of traffic in the nearby oil fields slowed or stopped as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding.

The fact that Earlsboro was situated near the Indian Territory boundary aided its early growth. Liquor was prohibited in Indian Territory, but saloons in Oklahoma Territory were legal. Because of the demand of the people living in Indian Territory for liquor, Earlsboro became known as a “whiskey town.” Three of the first four businesses established were saloons; the other was a grocery store. The number of saloons and stores handling liquor continued to increase and to dominate the business activities of the village until 1905. During that year it was estimated that 90 percent of the merchants were dealing profitably in liquor. With approaching statehood, however, many liquor dealers started moving their activities to other states, and the first boom period ended.

Ealrsboro, 1927. Fire at the Twin States No. 2 Hearn well. One person was killed, several injured.
Ealrsboro, 1927. Fire at the Twin States No. 2 Hearn well. One person was killed, several injured.

Along with the whiskey trade, Earlsboro developed as a small commercial center serving nearby farmers. A blacksmith shop, gristmill, and cotton gin were built. Churches were started and a school district organized. Some streets were graded, and homes were constructed. The railroad located a boxcar next to the track to serve as a depot, and the village became a regular stop for passenger service.

Earlsboro, 1928. Traffic at the west end of the principal business street. Usually it took about thirty minutes to drive the two to three blocks. (Courtesty E. D. Keys)
Earlsboro, 1928. Traffic at the west end of the principal business street. Usually it took about thirty minutes to drive the two to three blocks. (Courtesty E. D. Keys)

During its first year of existence Earlsboro had a population of about 100 persons. By 1900 the population had increased to 400, and it continued to increase until 1905, when it reached an estimated 500 persons. The special census of 1907 recorded only 387 persons, the decrease being accounted for by the moving of liquor dealers. Population continued to decrease gradually, the 1920 census showing a total of 317 persons.

Earlsboro, 1975. Same street as shown in the 1928 photo.
Earlsboro, 1975. Same street as shown in the 1928 photo.

During the early 1920s the commercial activi- ties of Earlsboro were like those of many other small, farm-centered communities. Poor roads and slow transportation caused farmers in the vicinity to trade in Earlsboro. Subsistence stores supplying the most essential needs dominated the business area. A bank and a newspaper also aided in making it an active rural center.

The situation was completely and abruptly changed on March 1, 1926. On that day the first oil well to be a commercial producer in the
Earlsboro Sand, the well that caused the active development of the Earlsboro Field, “blew in.” The Earlsboro Sand was penetrated at a depth of 3,557 feet, and oil started flowing at a rate of two hundred barrels per day. Although this well was minor compared to some drilled shortly thereafter, the discovery started a violent oil boom; speculation in royalty rights and leases mounted rapidly, and drilling became frenzied.

Once begun, Earlsboro grew rapidly, so rapidly that in two or three months the town had a population variously estimated at from five thousand to ten thousand people. Main Street was lengthened from one to five blocks, with numerous side and parallel streets added to the business section. The streets were lined with stores of all types in addition to pool halls, picture shows, beauty shops, lumberyards, and cafes. A large four-story brick hotel was soon under construction. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and geologists sought office space in any type of building. The residential area expanded as rapidly as the business section. Shotgun houses of all varieties were built on land once used for gardens or lawns. Tents frequently occupied unused spaces, and often tent space in a back yard rented for as much as twenty-five dollars per month. No streets in the residential area were paved or graveled. Public utilities were almost unknown to Earlsboro when the boom started. There was no sewage disposal, the water supply was furnished by individual wells, and most of the homes used kerosene lamps for light. The post office was entirely inadequate to handle the increase in mail. Earlsboro was too small to have delivery service, so everybody received his mail at the general delivery window or from a box in the post office. Two general delivery windows were soon opened, but this procedure only slightly relieved the situation. The people waiting to receive their mail often formed lines over a block in length.

One of the biggest problems that faced Earlsboro during the boom period was transportation. There were no paved roads in the community or town. Because of the heavy traffic, every road leading to Earlsboro was either a cloud of dust or a sea of mud. Automobiles, teamsters, and trucks all moved at a snail’s pace. Rainfall was exceptionally heavy during the fall of 1926, greatly exceeding the normal. Roads and fields were so boggy that it seemed drilling would have to be temporarily discontinued. Trucks were practically abandoned in favor of horses. Rail transportation was even more inadequate than the roads. Trackage and storage space were missing.

By 1928 the boom was beginning to settle as the limits of the producing fields were determined. New oil developments in nearby fields resulted in many of the single workers seeking steadier employment elsewhere. New city leaders, working with the older ones, began to bring order out of chaos and to improve the facilities of the community. Main Street was paved, a city water system was developed, and electricity was brought to the town.

In 1928 the population within the incorporated limits of the community was estimated at 4,000, but by 1930 it had decreased to 1,950. Also in 1928 the number of business establishments, as listed in the Earlsboro Journal, totaled 286. The 1940 population census (486) and a count of business establishments in the same year (19) showed that the second boom period had definitely ended and that the second stage of decay was well advanced.

Present-day Earlsboro is but a broken hull of the twice-booming community. About forty homes, many unpainted since the 1930s, remain scattered about the incorporated limits. Several residential streets have been closed and a few plowed and planted. Only uncared-for trees and broken foundations occupy previously densely populated blocks. The business area definitely shows that the boom is over and that the town is dying. Once busy streets are now’ almost unused. One block of brick buildings remains, and only three of them are in use. Grass and weeds grow in cracks along the sidewalks and in places once occupied by buildings. The depot built to replace the first boxcar has long since been removed, and trains no longer stop.

The 1970 census recorded only 248 persons. The population continues to decrease. How long will Earlsboro continue? As one of the
oldest residents stated recently, “We can always hope for another boom.”

 

Established in 1902, Avery is a stop along our Guthrie-Stillwater-Cushing dual sport loop. Currently there is an old school building still standing, and a few houses in what once was a thriving agricultural community in Lincoln County. Many of the early citizens of Avery worked in the nearby Cushing oil fields.

From the book “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” by John W. Morris:

County: Lincoln
LOCATIONS (a) Sec. 11, T 16 N, R 5 E
(I7) 12 miles north, 7 miles east of Chandler; 7 miles south, 1 mile east of Cashing
POST OFFICE: September 16. 1902—August 26, 1957
RAILROAD: Eastern Oklahoma Railway (Santa Fe)

Avery, established in 1902, became one of the most important agricultural growing and shipping centers in central Oklahoma before World War I. The soils of the area were fertile, the growing season long enough for crops such as cotton and fruits to mature, and the pastures suitable for cattle grazing. Roads were poor, and there were no large towns in the immediate vicinity until Cushing developed as an oil collecting and refining center. Also, the railroad through Avery made connections with the main line of the Santa Fe at Newkirk and Pauls Valley as well as connections with the Rock Island at Shawnee.

Avery, ca. 1916. Four passenger trains served Avery each day. (Courtesty Oklahoma Historical Society)
Avery, ca. 1916. Four passenger trains served Avery each day. (Courtesty Oklahoma Historical Society)

As agriculture developed, the railroad became the source of life for Avery. Reports indicate that more animals were shipped from the town during certain years than from any other place between Pauls Valley and Arkansas City, Kansas. Herds of hogs and cattle were driven to the stockyards by men on foot. There was one day in 1907 when 125 cattle cars were loaded and shipped to Kansas City. About twice a year notice would be sent to farmers that a poultry car would arrive on a certain date. Farmers would then bring in chickens, ducks, and turkeys to sell. During the cotton picking season the gins would run twenty~four hours a day. One man stated that he “had counted 125 wagon loads of cotton and forty loads of grain on the streets of Avery in a single day.” In addition to shipping out, the railroad was responsible for bringing in the feed, seed, coal, and machinery sold and used.

Avery was also the cultural and social center for the area. ln addition to the saloons, which had to be closed at the time of statehood, the village had the usual stores, livery stables, blacksmith shops, and restaurants. There were two hotels, which tried to outdo each other. The price of a hotel room for one night plus breakfast was fifty cents. One could get an entire home—cooked dinner for twenty-five cents. Each Saturday night a dance was held in the hall above the drugstore. “The single boys came on horse back; those dating came in buggies; and those married came in wagons with plenty of hay and straw in the bottom so the youngsters could sleep while mamma and papa were at the dance.” There was also a magic lantern show which operated on Saturday nights. With the opportunity to make “big money” working in the oil fields near Cushing, Drumright, or Shamrock, many young men left the farms. World War I also took others away. The Model T Ford and better roads made it easier to buy and sell in the larger towns. The soils of the area, not having been fertilized, declined in production. Gradually, farms were consolidated and much land returned to pasture.

The old main street of Avery is now overgrown with weeds, and trees stand where buildings formerly stood. The remaining business buildings are unused, some half torn down, others rotting and falling down. The depot has long since been removed. Although the tracks remain, they are seldom used. The large school, built during WPA days. stands vacant and neglected. A few homes are still occupied.

Avery, 1974. Remaining abandoned buildings and foundations of former buildings located in the heart of the old Avery business district.
Avery, 1974. Remaining abandoned buildings and foundations of former buildings located in the heart of the old Avery business district.

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Pleasant Valley is an old Oklahoma ghost town located between Stillwater and Guthrie, just south of the Cimarron River along a dirt road. It once was called “Cowboy Flats” and was a place with plentiful grazing. Cowboys would stop and let their cattle graze here on the drive north. It was a bustling location in the early 1900’s but then faded from existence as improvements in transportation meant people could travel further and faster to get supplies. Now there are only a few homes in the area and the remains of some old buildings.

From the excellent book “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” by John W. Morris:

Pleasant Valley

COUNTY! Logan
LOCATION: {a} Sec. 33, T 18 N, R I W
(I1) 7 miles north, 7 miles east of Guthrie
Post OFFICE: February 29, I 904-May 31, 1947
NEWSPAPERS: Banner Breezes
RAILROAD: Eastern Oklahoma Railway (Santa Fe), abandoned 1959

Pleasant Valley, first known as Campbell, had its start in 1899 in that part of northeastern Logan County known as Cowboy Flat. On January 29, 1900, a post office with the name of Anna was opened in Campbell, but the name was changed to Pleasant Valley on February 29, 1904. Prior to the opening of the Unassigned Lands in 1889, Cowboy Flat was used as grazing land for thousands of cattle. Many cowboys who worked with those herds “soonered” in the area before the run. They helped each other in holding claims, and in numerous cases they dumped cornerstones in the river.

Pleasant Valley, ca. 1910. elevators, switchyard, and the depot. (Courtesty M.C. Rouse)
Pleasant Valley, ca. 1910. elevators, switchyard, and the depot. (Courtesty M.C. Rouse)

In 1900 the Eastern Oklahoma Railroad built a line from Guthrie eastward to Cushing via Pleasant Valley. M. C. Rouse, an old-timer still living in the vicinity, states: “True to custom of frontier towns, one of the first buildings was a saloon. Chief clientele consisted of Irish workmen on the railroad. Business buildings of that time had the front end extended up as high as the gable. On the front of it was painted a man riding a two-hump camel, indicating the name of the town. The man wore a derby hat, and a deck of cards protruded from his pocket.” With the coming of the railroad Pleasant Valley became the important center of Cowboy Flat. Eventually there were two passenger trains each way each day plus a freight each way. Many of the first homes built were small one-room af- fairs, and some were half-dugouts.

Pleasant Valley, 1908. Street scene on Western Trail Avenue. (courtesy M. C. Rouse)
Pleasant Valley, 1908. Street scene on Western Trail Avenue. (courtesy M. C. Rouse)

Pleasant Valley had its greatest period of prosperity between 1910 and 1930. A bank existed from I909 to 1934. Agricultural land was productive enough to support two elevators, a gristmill, a cotton gin, and a feed mill. A small flour mill operated for five or six years about 1920. The two, and sometimes three, general stores bought eggs, butter, and cream in exchange for groceries, clothing, and farm equipment. A hardware store, blacksmith shops which changed to garages and filling stations, and a fifteen-room hotel also served the community.

Cultural life in Pleasant Valley function around its churches and school. In the 19208 annual township fair was held, during which there were horse races and other kinds of entertainment. For a few years there was a town band. A justice of the peace court was organized to settle local difficulties. One unique case was that in which a minister sued a bridegroom for nonpayment of a $2.50 marriage fee.

Pleasant Valley today is an isolated community served by neither railroad nor state highway. The foundation of an old elevator is clearly visible, the walls of an old business building still stand, and a few small houses continue to be lived in. Some of the former streets remain open. Cowboy Flat continues to be good agricultural
and grazing land. It is easy to understand why Pleasant Valley developed in such a location before modern transportation.

Pleasant Valley, 1889. Rendezvous of the Dalton gang before the Coffeyvill raid was located near the edge of town. (Courtesty M. C. Rouse)
Pleasant Valley, 1889. Rendezvous of the Dalton gang before the Coffeyvill raid was located near the edge of town. (Courtesty M. C. Rouse)

This dual sport loop takes you along dirt roads from Guthrie to Stillwater to Cushing and back to Guthrie. The loop features a number of interesting stops along the way with a bit of Oklahoma History sprinkled in the mix. It can easily be ridden in an afternoon – about 4-5 hours if you blast the route and don’t stop, but it is better to plan 6-7 hours so you can explore the locations, read a bit of history about the spots, enjoy lunch and stop to take pictures along the way.

While you can start the loop from any location, we start in Guthrie and travel clockwise to Stillwater, then Cushing, then back to Guthrie.

Guthrie to Stillwater

Begin your journey with breakfast at Stables Cafe in downtown Guthrie, on the corner of Highways 33 and 77. Stables offers a vast menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a regular motorcycle hangout.

Stables Cafe in Guthrie is a great place to start your trip. They offer great food and are open 7 days per week.
Stables Cafe in Guthrie is a great place to start your trip. They offer great food and are open 7 days per week.

Follow the route east and a bit north to Summit View Cemetery just outside Guthrie. Summit View features their very own “Boot Hill” section and is home to an infamous outlaw named Elmer McCurdy. You see, McCurdy was just an unknown petty thief and train robber when he died, but after his death he traveled a circuitous route that ended up in a museum in Santa Monica, a freak show in the circus, and even a guest appearance on the “Six Million Dollar Man” television show.

Boot Hill is where the locals buried outlaws when nobody would claim the body.
Boot Hill is where the locals buried outlaws when nobody would claim the body.
We stopped by the Boot Hill section of Summit View Cemetery on our dual sport motorcycles.
We stopped by the Boot Hill section of Summit View Cemetery on our dual sport motorcycles.
Charlie Pearson was a desparado buried in Boot Hill.
Charlie Pearson was a desparado buried in Boot Hill.
I am guessing Little Dick West was not fond of his nickname.
I am guessing Little Dick West was not fond of his nickname.
Elmer McCurdy was killed near in the Osage Hills of Oklahoma and became "famous" well after his death.
Elmer McCurdy was killed near in the Osage Hills of Oklahoma and became “famous” well after his death.
This old schoolhouse sits across a 4-way intersection from Summitview Cemetery.
This old schoolhouse sits across a 4-way intersection from Summit View Cemetery.
This bridge awaits you before you get to Stillwater.
This bridge awaits you before you get to Stillwater.

After leaving Summit View Cemetery, follow the route across I-35 and you will come across a home with cow skeletons on the fence.

Just east of I-35 you will come across a home with cow skeletons on the fence.
Just east of I-35 you will come across a home with cow skeletons on the fence.
Pleasant Valley is an old ghost town that is in an area that once was known as "Cowboy Flats".
Pleasant Valley is an old ghost town that is in an area that once was known as “Cowboy Flats”.
You cross the Cimarron River north of Pleasant Valley. A dirt road leads to and from this bridge.
You cross the Cimarron River north of Pleasant Valley. A dirt road leads to and from this bridge.

Stillwater to Cushing

After lunch in Stillwater, the route takes you south and east and skirts the north bank of the Cimarron River, following mostly dirt and gravel roads. It travels along part of the Oklahoma Adventure Trail and eventually crosses the Cimarron River. An old bridge and a graffiti bridge embankment is found along the way.

After leaving Stillwater, the route follows the north bank of the Cimarron River and crosses Stillwater Creek on this bridge.
After leaving Stillwater, the route follows the north bank of the Cimarron River and crosses Stillwater Creek on this bridge.
You can actually ride you bike down to the Cimarron River at several places along this route.
You can actually ride you bike down to the Cimarron River at several places along this route.
An old river bridge over the Cimarron River has been decorated by many graffiti artists over the years.
An old river bridge over the Cimarron River has been decorated by many graffiti artists over the years.

Cushing to Guthrie

Once you arrive in Cushing, visit their downtown area or stop by Braum’s for an ice cream. The route takes you south out of Cushing past the airport (watch for skydivers) and through the huge oil storage facility that Cushing is known for. Head further south to the ghost town of Avery, then the route turns back west and zig-zags through Iowa Indian tribal headquarters and on to Langston and then back to Guthrie.

Cushing is known world-wide as a major petroleum storage area. Many pipelines meet in Cushing, carrying oil nationwide.
Cushing is known world-wide as a major petroleum storage area. Many pipelines meet in Cushing, carrying oil nationwide.
An old school house marks the ghost town of Avery, Oklahoma.
An old school house marks the ghost town of Avery, Oklahoma.
This antique farm equipment is a recent addition to the route.
This antique farm equipment is a recent addition to the route.
Just west of Highway 177 you pass through Kiowa Tribal Headquarters.
Just west of Highway 177 you pass through Iowa Tribal Headquarters.
This monolith marks the Indian Meridian and is used for land surveys all across central Oklahoma.
This monolith marks the Indian Meridian and is used for land surveys all across central Oklahoma.
Just north of Guthrie is the abandoned headquarters of Cabo Oil Company.
Just north of Guthrie is the abandoned headquarters of Carbo Oil Company.

Click the DOWNLOAD button above (below the map) to download GPS tracks of this route.

The thirteenth annual Clayton Lake Dual Sport Ride is in the books, and what a great weekend.  The weather was darn near perfect except for the dust from dry conditions. Mornings were cool, afternoons were warm, and the skies offered enough clouds to keep the late afternoon sun at bay.

Friday Day 1

Kay and I showed up late Thursday afternoon and set up camp. Several folks were already there and had already been out for a ride. Friday morning we hit the trails around 11 am, riding a very nice loop south out of Nashoba, crossing the Little River at a bridge that has been washed out for years, then looping east and then north for about a 45 mile fun ride. I was on my good friend Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525, since I had left the key of my DRZ-400 in the on position overnight and had drained the battery. Luckily Bill had loaned me his Beta as a backup so I plugged my much loved DRZ into a charger and jumped on Bill’s much more nimble and powerful “Red Devil”. We headed out with Kay on her Honda CRF230L, me on the Beta, our daughter Emily Mathews on her Honda CRF-250L, Connie Hamilton on her Kawasaki KLX-130, and Jim Finley on his Suzuki DR-650.

On our Friday ride We encountered two water crossings. On the first crossing our friend Jim took his girlfriend Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki KLX-130 through the deep part of the crossing. The water washed over the seat and the bike died mid-stream, filling Jim’s boots with water for the remainder of the day. He pushed the little Kawi out of the water and we proceeded to drain the exhaust pipe and intake. Luckily no water had made it into the cylinder or engine cases so after 30 minutes of trailside work we had Connie’s bike running again.

Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton's Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just north of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just south of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.

Once across the small bridge out just south of Nashoba, we meandered south and east into the Honobia wildlife management area. This requires a permit ($10 for 3 days for in-state riders, $80 for an annual pass for out-of-state riders). This area is the size of Rhode Island and crisscrossed with logging trails. Since southeast Oklahoma had been dry since July, I decided to try crossing the Little River at what is termed the “bridge out” waypoint. Little River is a pretty major river that divides this riding area and several bridges span the river. This bridge has been washed out since at least 2002 and probably longer, but during late summers with low water, the river can be crossed – with a bit of difficulty. Riders must travel downstream along the banks of the river, then cross the actual riverbed which is strewn with large boulders. Top level riders on light weight dirt bikes can make the crossing generally without putting a foot down, but it is a challenge. Most riders end up stalling their bike in the boulders or even falling over and need help getting across. This day we all got across with a bit of pushing, shoving, lifting and sweating.

This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
I went first on Bill Dragoo's Beta 525 - made it without putting a foot down - not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
I went first on Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525 – made it without putting a foot down – not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn't get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn’t get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.

The remainder of our Day 1 ride was fairly easy compared to the river crossing. We hit some great trails that had seen very little traffic so the trail was not ground into dust. Some of the trails were very rough and rocky but fun as we dodged tree limbs and clambered up and down craggy washed-out trails. Late in the day we ran across a small pony and his mule sidekick. The pony, which we promptly named “Rusty” was fond of our peanut butter crackers, while his mule friend watched warily from a distance.

My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend "Rusty" who we found along a trail way back in the woods.
My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend “Rusty” who we found along a trail way back in the woods.

Towards the end of our ride we got back on pavement to cross Little River again, this time westbound. The fall colors were just beginning to show and the river crossing was stunningly beautiful. While taking a few pictures a lady in an SUV with a couple of girls stopped to say “hi”. Her girls were interested in riding and we let the sit on our bikes.

The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left - Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left – Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day's ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day’s ride.
My two favorite gals - Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
My two favorite gals – Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie's little Kawasaki for a picture.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie’s little Kawasaki for a picture.

Below is a GPX file of our route. You can download this route and load it into your own GPS and follow our trip.

Nashoba River Run loop

Saturday Day 2

Quite a few people joined us for our second ride of the weekend. After charging overnight, my Suzuki DRZ-400 was ready to roll. Once again we pulled out around 11 am with about 15 riders in the group. Since we had such a fun ride the first day, our plan was to start with our Friday route and see how things ended up. We made the creek crossing at Nashoba without incident and the river crossing at Little River without anyone hurt. In fact we rolled up on another group of riders from camp at the river crossing and we all joined in to get the bikes across.

During a stop on the trail we talked about control position - brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing.
During a stop on the trail we talked about control position – brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing. Here he is straightening Kay’s gear shift lever after it had been bent in the river crossing.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.

Later in the day we stopped at Battiest for lunch and gas. There we met a 14 year old young man on his Honda C-70 moped who joined us in the shade of the store. He inherited his C-70 from his grandpa and used it as transportation around the farm and to town. Connie made friends and asked plenty of questions, which he was willing and eager to answer.

A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.

Kay and I split off on the ride home. I wanted to find a quicker way home from Battiest, since we often end up there late in the day and need a fun yet quick way back to Clayton.

Clayton to Battiest Loop 2015

Day 3 – Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol

On Sunday most riders left early. Kay, Emily, her husband Dirk and I decided to take a short dual sport ride north of Clayton to the Choctaw Nation Capitol in Tuskahoma. Most of our route was paved, with one easy and optional river crossing thrown in. It was interesting to visit the Choctaw Nation Capitol, where they feature a replica Choctaw town from before the Removal.

Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.

Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol Loop