Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Secrets of Cimarron County

Sightseeing off the map



 



It was almost dusk when the pickup seemed to apparate out of nowhere, careening off a dirt road intersection to roar up on our passenger side in a spray of gravel. The men inside – two in front and two in back of the club cab – held rifles beside them: stocks on the seats, barrels in the air.
 

They leaned forward to squint through the dust squall, scanning my unfamiliar face and then looking across to the driver, a third-generation Cimarron County resident.

Nods were exchanged.

“Oh, hey. Didn’t recognize your truck.”

“Got a new one, just a couple weeks ago.”

“Alright. Didn’t look familiar. Had to check.”

 



(above)

A labyrinth of eroded sandstone buttes created beneath an ancient sea stands guard near the top of a rise near the Oklahoma-Colorado border. Century-old graffiti, including foot-tall letters spelling out the local name of the site, is etched into the worn sedimentary rock.
 


 

After some rat-a-tat chitchat, the mini-militia spun the steering wheel and faded back in the opposite direction in a cloud of dust. Our off-the-grid tour of Cimarron County, led by long-time friends who are descendants of pioneers, continued.

The deal: a backroads glimpse of abandoned farms, ancient rock formations, historic sites and cave petroglyphs tucked behind locked gates and fenced pastures. Photographs were encouraged; the sharing of directions and identifying details was not.

The epic landmarks are under the radar in digital archives and draw blanks in Google searches, existing in the realm of places unmarked on maps that can only be found by those who already know where they are.

In that spirit, these images offer a glimpse of some of the oldest landscapes in one of the youngest states, preserved among the secrets of Cimarron County.

 


 

Cimarron County, the 34-mile-wide by 54-mile-long westernmost rectangle of the Oklahoma Panhandle, is the fourth largest – and dead-last least populated – of the state’s 77 counties.

The former section of No Man’s Land has several claims to fame: Cimarron is Oklahoma’s only county without a stoplight, and the only one with a few acres in the Mountain Time Zone. Fossilized dinosaur tracks pockmark the area near Black Mesa, the state’s highest point. It is the nation’s only county to share borders with four other states: Kansas and Colorado to the north, New Mexico to the west, Texas to the south.

It is home to 2,200 souls – about half as many as 50 years ago, and down from the 5,927 population at the time of statehood. Those who remain share a sense of community and a common worldview: in the last presidential election, Donald Trump captured 89.3 percent of the vote.

 


 


(above)

It was only by counting the spoked wheels scattered among the charred pieces of wood that the size of the doomed party could be determined. Sometime before 1880, about 20 wagons traversing the Cimarron Cutoff of the old Santa Fe Trail were ambushed by attackers described as Utes. Dozens of the iron-rimmed wheels stayed where they had fallen, in the shadow of Wolf Mountain, until the metal was eventually salvaged. In 1991, brothers Robert and Albert Koehler, then in their late 70s, “cobbled up a sign,” welding a monument atop a concrete tower and adding a fence to keep off the cattle that graze nearby.
 

 


 


(above)

The carvings on Cimarron County’s sculpted overhangs and shallow caves are open to the elements – and to interpretation. They have been hailed as classic petroglyphs and pictographs by some, and interpreted as evidence of Egyptian influence and Celtic travelers by others. Between the world wars, excited locals took researchers into their confidence and swore them to secrecy about the artifacts within. But promises made were soon broken, and expeditions returned without permission to excavate. Newer graffiti now pushes in near original carvings of people and horses and bison – in a tableau exposed to the elements and protected only by their remoteness.
 


 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Maestro’s Farewell Concert Postponed

OKC Philharmonic’s Joel Levine in recovery

What's Up in the 405

Our top 6 picks for fun stuff to do in and around OKC

Curbside Chronicle to Expand Its Reach

More jobs and online platform thanks to Google cash boost

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Friends to Follow

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2018

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Free Spanish Conversation Practice for Beginners! We invite all beginner-level Spanish-speakers to practice with OKC Spanish! At each meeting, we read a Spanish-language article together,...

Cost: Free

Where:
AMH Language Office
11212 N May
Suite 115
Oklahoma City, OK  73120
View map »


Sponsor: AMH Language / OKC Spanish
Telephone: 405.896.0955
Contact Name: Addie Eubanks
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Oklahoma City residents will get a once-yearly, behind-the-scenes look at their state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility. Visitors will be able to view the 220-ton cyclotron, which accelerates...

Cost: Free

Where:
ProCure Proton Therapy Center
5901 W Memorial Rd
Oklahoma City , OK  73142
View map »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags