We like to post anything that's spooky, haunted, abandoned or fun.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Elmer McCurdy (January, 1880 in Washington, Maine – October 7, 1911) was an Oklahoma outlaw whose mummified body was discovered in the Nu-Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California in December 1976.

On the TV Series Wild West Tech, Western historian Drew Gomber famously said that "As an outlaw, Elmer McCurdy was truly God's own idiot. He had no business being a bandit." After three years in the army, McCurdy traveled to Oklahoma and joined a gang of bank and train robbers. It appears that McCurdy was confused about the train, and believed it contained a safe which held thousands of dollars in government tribal payments. It turns out that the train was delayed for a few hours. He and his gang actually robbed a passenger train, getting away with a paltry take of $46 and few bottles of liquor. He was shot to death in a gunfight in the Osage Hills shortly after. Ironically, just before he was shot (in the thorax by a .32-20 caliber bullet, according to a contemporary newspaper account), his last words were, "You'll never take me alive!" His body was subsequently taken to a funeral home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. When no one claimed the corpse, the undertaker embalmed it with an arsenic-based preservative and allowed people to see "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up" for a nickel. People would place nickels in McCurdy's mouth in which the undertaker would remove later. It was said that Elmer made more money in death than in life. Many carnival operators asked to buy the mummified body from the undertaker, but he refused.

Almost five years after McCurdy died, a man showed up from a nearby traveling carnival known as the Great Patterson Shows claiming to be McCurdy's long-lost brother. He indicated that he wanted to remove the corpse to give it a proper burial. Within two weeks, however, McCurdy was a featured exhibit with the carnival. For the next 60 years, McCurdy's body was sold to successive wax museums, carnivals, and haunted houses. The owner of a haunted house near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, refused to purchase him because he thought that McCurdy's body was actually a mannequin and wasn't lifelike enough. Eventually, the corpse wound up in "The Laff in the Dark" funhouse at the Long Beach Pike amusement park in California.

During filming of the 1977 episode "Carnival of Spies" for the television show The Six Million Dollar Man, which was shot at the Pike in December of 1976, a crew member was moving what was thought to be a wax mannequin that was hanging from a gallows. When the mannequin's arm broke off, it was discovered that it was in fact the embalmed and mummified remains of a human. Later, when a medical examiner opened the mummy's mouth for other clues, he was surprised to find a 1924 penny and a ticket from the Museum of Crime in Los Angeles. That ticket and archived newspaper accounts helped police and researchers to identify the body as that of Elmer McCurdy.

His remains were examined in 1976 by forensic anthropologists. McCurdy's remains revealed incisions from his original autopsy and embalment, as well as a gunshot wound in the right anterior chest. Additionally, a copper bullet jacket or gas check from a .32-20 caliber projectile was found embedded in his pelvis (analysis of the projectile showed that the jacket was manufactured between 1905 and the 1930s). Also, video superimposition of the remains with photographs of McCurdy's corpse curated at the University of Oklahoma's Western History Collection confirmed McCurdy's identity.

He was finally buried in the Boot Hill section of the Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma on April 22, 1977. The state medical examiner ordered that two cubic yards of concrete was to be poured over McCurdy's casket, so that his remains would never be disturbed again.

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