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Elmer McCurdy

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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.

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.