Author

James Pratt

Browsing

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

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.

 

I was traveling back roads in Oklahoma on my way home from an assignment in Altus when I ran across an old rock gasoline station that caught my eye. The architecture of this building is similar to structures in Medicine Park, using the rounded stone and concrete mortar. I stopped to photograph this abandoned building and noticed the pipes leading to now empty gasoline storage tanks. A small water cistern sits nearby – for drinking or just water for the automobiles?

Across the street is a sign for the Hancock Ranch, listed as one of the Oklahoma Centennial farms. I drove down the road to the south and did not notice anything unusual. Across the street is a modern metal building for the “Sedan Volunteer Fire Department”.

If you are in southwestern Oklahoma and like to explore, follow these GPS coordinates to see an unusual Oklahoma location.

I was in my truck on the way back from Altus and stopped to take a picture with my large format 4x5 view camera.
I was in my truck on the way back from Altus and stopped to take a picture with my large format 4×5 view camera.
The Sedan Volunteer Fire Station is across the street from the rock gas station.
The Sedan Volunteer Fire Station is across the street from the rock gas station.
The Hancock Ranch is located near Sedan.
The Hancock Ranch is located near Sedan.

Map of 1910 Grand Boulevard Loop as part of OKC Parks Plan of 1910Many in Oklahoma City are familiar with Grand Boulevard. There is even an exit for it off I-35 between SE 29th and SE 44th street. And they may drive it when touring the opulent homes in Nichols Hills. Or jog along its path in south OKC. Or follow it to Trosper Park in Del City, or Lincoln Park on northeast Oklahoma City.

Wait, what?

How can one road be seen in so many places in Oklahoma City? Doesn’t this cause confusion?

Way back in 1910 – shortly after statehood and only a few years after Oklahoma City was founded – the Oklahoma City Council hired W. H. Dunn, then Superintendent of Parks in Kansas City, to develop the first Oklahoma City Parks Plan. As part of that plan, Dunn developed the Grand Boulevard Loop. It wasn’t until 1930 that the City of OKC incorporated the Grand Boulevard Loop into a formal document – The City Plan for Oklahoma City. Much of the right of way for the boulevard was acquired, and a significant portion of the loop was constructed.

Download original plan here —-> 1910 Oklahoma City Parks Plan by WH Dunn

Download GPS tracks here —-> Grand Boulevard GPS Tracks

This plan from 1910 is the basis for many of the parks we see in Oklahoma City today – Trosper Park, Lincoln Park, and Woodson Park being the most prominent. This “Grand Boulevard” was designed to loop around the outskirts of Oklahoma City and provide a plan for not only parks and a road, but for zoning and long term development of Oklahoma City.

The plan wasn’t formally adopted by the City Council until 1930 and of course by then a few things had changed, but the basics of the plan was still in place. The right-of-way for the loop and parks was acquired and construction began. The loop was never officially completed until the construction of the Interstate system was developed, using much of the right-of-way acquired for the Grand Boulevard loop. That is why you see many of the access roads around I-44 and I-35 labeled “Grand Boulevard”.

I decided to retrace this route with my dual sport bike several years ago. It is a challenge trying to piece the route together without actually driving on the Interstate. My goal was to travel as many roads labeled “Grand Boulevard” as possible while sticking to the original route yet staying off the Interstate. This way I thought the route could be ridden by any motorcycle or even bicycle. Recently I rode this route again and logged it with my GPS so I could share with others. It took me and my daughter Emily Mathews exactly 2 hours to ride the route with a couple of short stops along the way. You have to really pay attention to the route in certain places. For example, near I-44 and Kelly, if you take the wrong turn it can lead you onto the Interstate, while if you turn just 20 yards further, it takes you along the I-44 access road – i.e. Grand Boulevard.

My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.

There are several interesting stops along the way and I only included a few in my GPS file. Tombo Racing, a long time Oklahoma City motorcycle speed shop, is located right on south Grand Boulevard just east of I-35. You will also pass Capitol Hill High School, and of course Trosper Park and Lincoln Park. The Railway Museum is marked near Lincoln Park, and the route takes you right in front of the OKC Zoo and Remington Park.

You can download the route by clicking “download” beneath the map. This will download GPX waypoints, which you can then load into most any GPS unit. Then follow the tracks for a tour around the “Outer Loop” of Oklahoma City!

For those of you without a GPS. you can click the Google Map below and follow the route on your phone:

Below are many beautifully hand drawn maps from the original 1910 plan.

img_dunn1910_005_fullmap

img_dunn1910_002_nepark

img_dunn1910_003_separk-640x683

img_dunn1910_007_riversidepark

img_dunn1910_001_classen1

img_dunn1910_008_shawsheights

img_dunn1910_09_classensection

img_dunn1910_010_westernandsixth

img_dunn1910_011_grandblvdsketch

img_dunn1910_012_grandblvdplan

img_dunn1910_013_grandblvdaerial

img_dunn1910_014_grandblvdsection

img_dunn1910_015_grandblvdbefore

 

Below is a map of Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory. Oklahoma City was nothing more than a stage stop along the route.

Oklahoma map from 1885 when still Indian Territory

Here is an artist rendering of Oklahoma City circa 1890.

Artist rendering of Oklahoma City around 1890

The two images below are from the Oklahoma Historical Society and are scans of a tourist handbill about Oklahoma City.

Grand Boulevard Map 1

Grand Boulevard Map back page

Finally, here are a few newspaper articles from years past you can download to read about Oklahoma City’s “Grand Boulevard”.

Harvard 1911 Municipal Engineering report

How Oklahoma City Secured Its Park and Boulevard System

1909 Story about The Park System of Oklahoma City

 

 

Sod Town is a ghost town in the eastern portion of the Oklahoma Panhandle. There is nothing there now except the remains of an old roadbed and I had to drive well over a mile into an open field just to find those remains. A bit about Sod Town from John Morris’ excellent “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” book:

Sod Town was unique among the early settlements of the Panhandle. It was the first town to be built in the eastern part of No Man’s Land, and all the buildings were constructed of blue creek sod. The village has been described as “standing irregularly and nakedly on the prairie.” It had one store, a blacksmith shop, two saloons with pool halls, a restaurant, and a shack that served as a school. Doors and windowsills were unpainted and often broken, refuse littered the space between the buildings, and building interiors were little more than dark, bad-smelling rooms.

The town was noted for the characters – horse thieves and badmen – who loafed around the saloons. Most of the Chitwood gang, notorious horse thieves who lived nearby and frequented the saloons, were eventually hanged by vigilantes. In general, however, thieves would not steal from neighbors who treated them in a friendly manner. Harry Parker, who as a pioneer youngster attended school in Sod Town, stated: “I do not recall the name of my first teacher in No Man’s Land, but I do remember that two or three of the older students carried six-shooters to school. They would remove them and hang them on the wall by their hats.”

Sod Town, spawned in poverty and crime, has passed into oblivion. the land where the town stood has been cultivated for a number of years, but the ruins of old sod buildings have left ridges that can still be seen from the road east of it.

GPS Coordinates: N36° 32.198′ W100° 14.116′

Below is a map showing the location of Sod Town. You can click on the Download link below the map to download GPX coordinates to load into your GPS.

Sod Town, ca. 1885. Sod house with a curved roof. Rocks were placed on top to hold the roof in place.
Sod Town, ca. 1885. Sod house with a curved roof. Rocks were placed on top to hold the roof in place.
Sod Town, ca. 1885. A sketch of the "Outlaw Town" by Halley Roberts. (From History of Beaver County)
Sod Town, ca. 1885. A sketch of the “Outlaw Town” by Halley Roberts. (From History of Beaver County)

On a return trip from Guymon in January 2015, I decided to try and find Sod Town. It was difficult to find since it ended up being right in the middle of a rancher’s field. After attempting to approach it from the north and west with no luck, I finally came in from the east side and had some luck. In the end I drove down an old oil field access road, then down a two track trail that eventually turned into a barely discernible trail through the grass. I never saw the mounds left by the sod buildings, but I did follow and old wagon trail leading to Sod Town.

Below are three videos I took with my iPhone while trying to locate Sod Town.

I finally found signs of Sod Town.

This old washed out wagon trail is all the remains of Sod Town that I could find.
This old washed out wagon trail is all the remains of Sod Town that I could find.

I was recently meandering my way back from working in Altus and like usual, was traveling back roads, often gravel covered or paved secondary roads. As luck would have it I ran across a town that I had not heard of and that was not in my “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” book -Cowden. Located south of Mountain View and north of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Cowden is a small town that began in 1893. A school and church was organized on December 4, 1893 and Cowden became an independent school district C-2 when it was consolidated with schools from Valley View, Bunker Hill and Caddo schools. Cowden remained a school from 1911 to 1968. Today only the school gymnasium remains. At one time the small community of Cowden housed a post office, gas station, blacksmith shop, general store, cotton gin, barber shop, doctors, and a cream station and cafe. Now all that remains is a monument and the old school gymnasium.

GPS Coordinates: 35.2475598048,-98.7088907696

The Cowden high school gymnasium is all that is left of the school buildings.
The Cowden high school gymnasium is all that is left of the school buildings.
This monument, erected by prior students, is a nice place to take a break and enjoy the nearby scenery.
This monument, erected by prior students, is a nice place to take a break and enjoy the nearby scenery.
Past students of Cowden Independent School District erected this monument.
Past students of Cowden Independent School District erected this monument.
A small fence and park surround the Cowden Independent School District monument, which includes benches and tables.
A small fence and park surround the Cowden Independent School District monument, which includes benches and tables.

As you travel along the Oklahoma Adventure Trail in northern Oklahoma, be sure and take a one mile detour north to visit the United Methodist Church in the ghost town of Jefferson, Oklahoma. Built in 1895, the church is still in use today and worth the visit.

The town itself has an interesting history. According to “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” by John W. Morris, it was established in 1866 by James R. Mead as a trading station at what was then called Round Pond Creek on the Chisholm Trail in the Cherokee Outlet. Jefferson is located on the low divide between Osage and Pond Creeks and is about a mile from the confluence of the two streams. Therein lies one of the principal causes of the demise of Jefferson – the area is subject to heavy flooding.

Mead recalled “Mr. Chisholm’s teams and my own were the first which ever passed over the route and marked out what afterward became known as the Chisholm Trail.” There, at Round Pond, the cattle route crossed an old Indian warpath, Black Dog Trail, named for an Osage chief. In November, 1879, a post office named Pond was located at this place. The station and post office were closed in 1887. The Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement in 1893. In 1894 the town of Jefferson came into existence.

Jefferson, surrounded by some of the best agricultural land in Oklahoma, soon became a growing farm center. Within ten years some twenty stores and shops plus two banks and two hotels had located in the town. In addition, there were two produce houses, an agricultural implement dealer, a wheelwright, three black-smith shops, three elevators, and a feed mill. Better-than-average medical care was available, for three medical doctors and three osteopaths had established offices. A weekly newspaper advertised the virtues of Jefferson throughout the area. The town also had its saloon keepers and liquor dealers who had moved in fast “to quench the thirst of the newly located settlers, townsmen, and others.”

Two churches were soon started. The First Methodist Church, which still stands, was built in 1895 of rock quarried along the Oklahoma-Kansas border and brought to Jefferson in wagons pulled by teams. A school system was also organized. In the early 1900’s a two-story frame opera house was constructed. Performances by touring theatrical companies and musical organizations were given on the first floor, and dances were held in the upper story. The building also served as town hall for local meetings.

Jefferson reached its peak about 1915, when it had an estimated population of about six hundred persons. After that there was a gradual decline until 1944. At that time the first big flood in fifty years hit the town. Most homes and businesses were inundated. On October 10-11, 1973, Jefferson had its biggest flood. It was reported that fifteen inches of rain fell in five hours. “After that mess several families moved out.” Again, in 1974 there was another great flood and more families moved. During these last two floods water covered the lower floors of homes, store buildings, and churches.

Currently about eighteen families live in Jefferson. Two churches remain open, but all stores and the school are closed. An elevator continues to serve the farmers of the area. There is evidence of repair to homes in some places, but more evidence of flood damage and decay. Boggy places in and about the town can be seen, and in many places driftwood left by the receding waters remains.

Below is a map showing the location of the church in town. You can download a GPX file by clicking the link below:

The United Methodist Church in Jefferson was built in 1895 and is still operational today.
The United Methodist Church in Jefferson was built in 1895 and is still operational today.

Just south of the ghost town of Jefferson, Oklahoma and along the Oklahoma Adventure Trail likes two markers – what I call “Cowboy Tombstone” and a marker for the Old Sewell Stockade. They are literally 50 yards apart, one on the north side of the road and the other on the south side of the road. Be sure and visit both.

The north marker is for the “Old Sewell Stockade”. The footing of an old stockade can be found on the location, along with this marker erected by the Pond Creek and Medford Lion’s Club in 1937. The inscription on the marker reads:

“On this spot stood the old Sewell Stockade erected in the late sixties (1860’s) and later known as the Pond Creek Ranch House. For nearly a quarter of a century prior to the opening of the Cherokee Outlet, this ranch stood as a haven for weary cattle drivers, freighters, and travelers on the Chisholm Trail. Two hundred yards west the Black Dog Osage Indian Trail crossed the original Chisholm Trail.”

Marker for the Old Sewell Stockade along the Oklahoma Adventure Trail

Details about the Old Sewell Stockade on the Oklahoma Adventure Trail

If you travel across northern Oklahoma on the Oklahoma Adventure Trail, you will run across two markers close together – a Cowboy Grave marker and the Old Sewell Stockade. If you are not careful, you can miss one or the other, thinking the are one GPS waypoint. One is on the north side and one on the south side of the road. Both are about a mile south of the old ghost town of Jefferson, Oklahoma.

The marker on the south is what I call “Cowboy Tombstone”. It was erected in 1937 by the Pond Creek and Medford Lions Club and says:

“On this spot lie buried two cowboys who gave their lives in winning the frontier to civilization. Tom Best road south from Kansas in 1872 to join the Texas cattle drivers, but was killed by hostile indians a short distance north of this point. Ed Chambers, in 1873, rode north with a herd from Texas, and he, too, was killed by Indians about a mile southeast of here.”

It seems to me a bit odd that this marks the spot where two cowboys died, out of hundreds or thousands that died all across Oklahoma during the 1800’s. Still, this is a cool marker to visit if you are in the area.

You can download the GPS waypoints below:

Cowboy gravestone along the Oklahoma Adventure Trail

This cowboy gravestone south of Jefferson, Oklahoma is on the Oklahoma Adventure Trail - OAT - and marks the spot where two cowboys were killed.

My wife Kay and I were driving in our Jeep north of Enid, Oklahoma and saw a sign that pointed to “Skeleton Creek Ranch”. Thinking this was some type of cool dude ranch or something, we followed the signs to see something. Eventually one small sign pointed down a cow path in an empty field. Huh? We looked around and could see no “ranch” in site, so turned down the cow path. It looked like it was going towards and oil field tank, but then another little sign with just an arrow pointed down an even smaller cow path. Double humm.

Now the going got a bit rough in our Jeep but never requiring 4WD – just bumpy and uneven. A couple of times we had to drive over into the grass to bypass a mud hole. This was now getting quite interesting.

Finally we came to a small clearing overlooking more of a depression than a creek, but with the grain elevators of Enid clearly visible in the background. The only thing around was this marker explaining Skeleton Creek Ranch and how it came to be named.

“The Skeleton Trail Ranch was located at this site overlooking Skeleton Creek. Like other trail ranches, it provided a location where the cattle herds could be contained and provided basic amenities to the drovers.

The creek and ranch got its name from a disaster experienced by members of the Wichita drive following the civil war. The tribe had relocated to present day Wichita, KS during the Civil War from an area along the Wichita River near present day Anadarko, Oklahoma. With the war over the tribe was attempting to return to their former home when they caught cholera from Army troops. Devastated by the disease, they managed to get as far as this creek when they could no longer travel. So many died that those remaining alive could not bury their dead, and for many years skeletal remains lay scattered over the area.”

This is a perfect dual sport side trip if you are in the area, and an easy 10 minute jaunt from downtown Enid. Approach from the north and look for the small road signs.

GPS waypoint: N36 25.700 W97 50.899

Kay reads the marker for Skeleton Creek Ranch.
Kay reads the marker for Skeleton Creek Ranch.
The marker is basically in the middle of a field north of Enid. Approach from the road to the north.
The marker is basically in the middle of a field north of Enid. Approach from the road to the north.
This is the permanent marker at the site.
This is the permanent marker at the site.
A detailed marker with information about the site.
A detailed marker with information about the site.
Getting here requires a bit of off road riding. A pickup truck or any motorcycle can make it pretty easily.
Getting here requires a bit of off road riding. A pickup truck or any motorcycle can make it pretty easily.
The grain elevators of Enid are visible in the background.
The grain elevators of Enid are visible in the background.