Elmer McCurdy and Bill Doolin Outlaw Gravestones

A picture of Elmer McCurdy in his coffin

A picture of Elmer McCurdy in his coffin

A nice little side trip while you are riding near Guthrie is a stop by the Boot Hill section of Summit View Cemetery to see Elmer McCurdy and Bill Doolin‘s gravestone. Both are well known Oklahoma outlaws, although Elmer became famous for his travels AFTER he died. The location is accessible by both dual sport and any street bike.

McCurdy was a low level outlaw who liked to use his skills with nitroglycerin to blow up safes and trains. He wasn’t all that bright however and would often pick the wrong train, or use too much nitro, or just make a mess of things. Finally three Oklahoma lawmen caught up with him, a shootout ensued, and Elmer was killed. His body was taken to a funeral home in Pawhuska where he was embalmed. Nobody claimed the body so the funeral home owner eventually propped Elmer up in front of the funeral home with a rifle and called him various names like “Oklahoma Outlaw”. He would charge a nickel for people to take a picture.

Eventually Elmer drew the attention of circus and freak show operators, who offered the funeral home owner money for the body. The owner refused. Eventually a couple of guys showed up claiming to be Elmer’s long lost brother, claimed the body, and promptly placed it in a traveling wax museum called “The Museum of Crime”. Elmer’s body made the circuit and eventually made his way to places such as Mt Rushmore and Long Beach, Ca. His body deteriorated so much that operators no longer would show it, and the corpse ended up being stored in a warehouse in California. In 1976 the body was used as a prop in an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. After body parts fell off during filming, it was determined that Elmer was an actual person, not a wax museum leftover, and attempts were made to discover who he was and have his body properly buried. Eventually it was determined he was the Oklahoma outlaw Elmer McCurdy and he was returned to Guthrie for burial.

GPS Coordinates: N35 53.8880, W 97 24.2130

 

It took Kay and I several trips to find Elmer McCurdy's grave in the huge Summit View Cemetery.

It took Kay and I several trips to find Elmer McCurdy’s grave in the huge Summit View Cemetery.

The Boot Hill section of Summit View Cemetery is located just northeast of the maintenance shed along the north fence of Summit View Cemetery.

The Boot Hill section of Summit View Cemetery is located just northeast of the maintenance shed along the north fence of Summit View Cemetery.

Boot Hill is where outlaws were buried after nobody would claim their bodies.

Boot Hill is where outlaws were buried after nobody would claim their bodies.

 

About James Pratt

I am an Oklahoma based writer, photographer, videographer and adventurer. I love telling stories about people. A motorcycle is my preferred means of travel, and I have over 5,000 hours piloting small airplanes.

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