Grave of Elmer McCurdy.

Grave of Elmer McCurdy the Sideshow Mummy

Field review by the editors.

Guthrie, Oklahoma

Elmer McCurdy was an inept, bottom-rung outlaw, alcoholic and disease-ridden, when he died in a shootout near the Oklahoma-Kansas border in 1911. The posse who killed him believed that he was part of a gang that had robbed a nearby train, but he may not have been, and in any case the robbers had robbed the wrong train. It would have been an appropriately stupid end to a forgettable life.

Elmer McCurdy's career, however, had just begun.

Since no one would claim his body, Elmer was propped in a corner of a Pawhuska, Oklahoma, mortuary where visitors could view him for a nickel a peek. This went on for five years. Then two men claiming to be Elmer's brothers took the body -- and turned it into a freak show attraction at various traveling carnivals. This lasted for five decades. Elmer eventually wound up painted to glow in the dark in a Long Beach, California, amusement park, where he dangled from a noose. Shrunken and mummified, McCurdy was simply called "the dummy." People had forgotten that he was real.

Grave of outlaw Bill Doolin.

One day, while filming a TV episode of The Six Million Dollar Man at the amusement park, a workman moved McCurdy and his arm fell off, exposing the skeleton within. The mysterious dead man was autopsied by the LA County Coroner and made the headlines. People wanted to know who the body belonged to.

Oklahoma eventually proved that it belonged to Elmer McCurdy, and on April 22, 1977, he was finally given a proper burial in Guthrie's Summit View Cemetery next to Bill Doolin, another outlaw (The cemetery refers to these two graves as its "Boot Hill.") Guthrie's medical examiner ordered two cubic yards of concrete to be poured atop decay-proof Elmer's grave, so he could never be dug up and used as a mummy again.

Grave of Elmer McCurdy the Sideshow Mummy

Summit View Cemetery

N. Pine St., Guthrie, OK
Summit View Cemetery. North edge of town. I-35 exit 157 west onto Noble Ave./Hwy 33. North at first light onto Pine St. The cemetery will be several blocks north on the east side. The grave is in the "Boot Hill" section, which is near the northeast corner.
Gated after hours. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Statehood WeddingStatehood Wedding, Guthrie, OK - 1 mi.
Guthrie Gunfighters - Free GunfightsGuthrie Gunfighters - Free Gunfights, Guthrie, OK - 2 mi.
Giant CrossGiant Cross, Edmond, OK - 17 mi.
In the region:
45th Infantry Division Museum - Hitler's Mirror, Oklahoma City, OK - 27 mi.

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