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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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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.

Anyone who has ridden motorcycles long enough has met these dastardly “friends”. Because we are out in the weather and subject to the vagaries of Oklahoma’s fickle weather, we can start a ride in warm sunshine and end the ride with rain, hail, wind and even tornadoes.

Earlier this week I needed to go to Claremore to photograph some electrical utility lineman for Oklahoma Living Magazine. Like many motorcyclists, I prefer to ride than drive if all possible. It seemed like a nice day and I made my first mistake – I didn’t check the weather forecast. April 1 is can still be pretty nippy in the morning, but it looked like sunshine and I expected the weather to warm up quite nicely.

I got to my office and started to fire up my BMW R1200GS but WHAT? The battery was completely dead. No clicks, no lights, no electronics – nothing. I had just ridden it the previous week but looks like I left my key on and the battery was completely drained. I didn’t have time to charge it and I knew a bump start wouldn’t be enough to start and then run a high tech electronic bike like the GS with zero power. Still wanting to ride, I one of my favorite rides, my Suzuki DRZ-400S. It is a dirt bike mostly but I have rigged it for street use with a hand made pannier rack and some soft luggage. I tossed a camera and some lighting strobes in the saddle bags, threw on my helmet and jacket, and away I went.

I rode my Suzuki DRZ 400S to Claremore and back.  It was supposed to be a nice day and get warmer, but it got colder and started raining instead.  No heated grips or vest and no wind protection made for a cold ride.  I went down dirt roads near Cushing to bypass rain.
I rode my Suzuki DRZ 400S to Claremore and back. It was supposed to be a nice day and get warmer, but it got colder and started raining instead. No heated grips or vest and no wind protection made for a cold ride. I went down dirt roads near Cushing to bypass rain.

The weather was a bit cold to start but not bad, plus I expected it to warm up as the sun rose. Not a cloud in the sky – a perfect day for a ride. I like to ride back roads and even dirt roads when I can, so I started out the back way from Edmond along mostly paved but secondary county roads, out through Wellston. Knowing I needed get moving to get to my photo shoot on time, and not wanting to ride the Turner Turnpike with its 75 mph speed limit on a DRZ, I jumped on the always fun Route 66. I have been down that road so many times I know it like the back of my hand. It was an enjoyable ride, even on the DRZ with a board hard dirt bike seat, no wind protection, no heated grips or vest.

About the time I got to Tulsa I noticed the weather had not gotten warmer – it had gotten COLDER! Dang, this was looking less like fun and I wasn’t dressed for cold weather riding. I had a great KLIM Lattitude jacket on but just jeans, boots, gloves and a thin riding shirt on under my jacket. Luckily I had chosen my full faced helmet instead of my open face that I often ride my DRZ with (the better to take pictures without removing your helmet).

I finally made it to Claremore but the temps were now hovering around 55 degrees – about 10 degrees colder than when I started. I got my work done – they were surprised to see a photographer show up on a dirt bike. I was done by 2:30 pm and ran back to Claremore to top off with gas (total fuel usage for entire trip = 6 gallons, about $21 round trip Edmond-Claremore-Edmond) and grab some food. My plan was to enjoy the ride back along dirt and gravel roads, secondary county roads, stop and take pictures along the way, and just enjoy the day riding.

Mr. Cold Weather joins me

But by now my friends had joined me. It seemed the temps were really dropping and the constant wind of 45-55 mph on a bike with zero wind protection was starting to drop my core temps. I stopped at Kohl’s and purchased an oversized fleece jacket on markdown for $5 to go under my riding jacket. That helped tremendously. But after a while your core body temp starts dropping and you get chilled and just can’t get warm again soon. I stopped a few spots along the way and took pictures of things and places that interested me, but now my mind was becoming more focused on how darn cold I was than one how much fun I was having. Those friends were getting close and comfortable now, making my back and neck ache, my body shiver, and carrying the fun away from the party.

Now Mr. Rain tags along

Just east of Cushing on Highway 33 I saw rain clouds ahead. Humm. That was going to suck. I could see clear skies to the south along what looked like the Turner Turnpike corridor. And it was just starting to get dark. So I pointed the DRZ south along a dirt road, bypassing Cushing and hoping to bypass the rain.

No luck. The cold rain caught up with me. Luckily not a downpour, but just steady rain that ranged from light to moderate. Of course on a bike even a light rain can get you wet pretty quick. I didn’t have any rain gear but luckily my KLIM jacket is totally waterproof. It kept my torso dry but my hands and legs go pretty wet.

Now imagine riding a dirt bike at speed at night in 48 degree temps – in the rain, on a dirt road, at dusk.

My friends cold, wet and uncomfortable were in full party mode!

I kept a steady lookout for deer. Those four legged creatures can ruin a nice bike ride real quick. I finally got past the rain and made it to Highway 18, which then led me south to Chandler, where I could catch 66 home to Edmond. By now it was fully good and dark and by the way, the light on a DRZ dirt bike really kind of sucks, especially on low beam. I shivered and shuddered the rest of the way home, mulling over in my brain the age old question they write country songs about – “what was I thinking?”

But still, riding my bike all day was fun. It was a challenge and was not comfortable for much of the day, but that comes with the territory at times when riding a motorcycle. You need to be ready to NOT have fun. But the pleasure and freedom of riding a motorcycle more than makes up for the not fun part.

I eventually made it home safe and sound. It took me a long hot shower and 4 hours under an electric blanket on high power to finally warm up and stop my teeth from chattering. A small price to pay for the freedom and fun of riding a motorcycle.

I was riding my DRZ motorcycle home from a job in Claremore and bypassed south of Cushing to get around a rain storm.  Came upon this drilling rig at sunset with storm clouds in the background.
I was riding my DRZ motorcycle home from a job in Claremore and bypassed south of Cushing to get around a rain storm. Came upon this drilling rig at sunset with storm clouds in the background.
Flying G ranch just west of Sand Springs.
Flying G ranch just west of Sand Springs.
Flowering redbud trees in an empty forest always remind me of spring in Oklahoma.
Flowering redbud trees in an empty forest always remind me of spring in Oklahoma.
I ran across this odd looking house in far west Tulsa.  There is an underground portion below the tower.  Looks like a control tower.  It is up on a hill and has an awesome view of downtown Tulsa about 15 miles away.
I ran across this odd looking house in far west Tulsa. There is an underground portion below the tower. Looks like a control tower. It is up on a hill and has an awesome view of downtown Tulsa about 15 miles away.