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10 Unusual Places in Oklahoma

Andrew Knittle, The Oklahoman Modified: November 7, 2008 at 11:39 am •  Published: October 31, 2008
Gravity Hill, Bartlesville

Gravity Hill, located south of Bartlesville on Gap Road at the Matoaka Switch, has been a source of local lore and mystique for decades now. According to the locals, the hill in question is unique because it defies the laws of gravity. If you park your car facing downhill and put it in neutral, you’ll be surprised as your car starts rolling backward, which is uphill. Similar experiments, like spilling soda on the ground to see which direction it flows, have produced the same unusual results as the fluid runs back uphill.

A popular place for first dates or just a sight to see if you’re in the area, Gravity Hill – one of dozens of “Gravity Hills” across the country – is more readily explained by science than the supernatural. The only way to be truly sure, however, is go there and check it out for yourself. The hill’s location is available on Google Maps and other online mapping tools. Or, you can just ask a local if you’re in town.

Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hugo

In what was once called Circus City, USA, due to the more than 15 shows that wintered in the small southeast Oklahoma town, Hugo’s Mount Olivet Cemetery features a section called Showman’s Rest, a place for circus performers to rest in peace after a life spent wandering the country. Headstones can be found in all shapes and sizes, including an elephant, a mini circus big top and a Ferris wheel.

Bull Rider’s Reprieve, dedicated to former rodeo stars and a handful of notable bulls, can also be found be found at Mount Olivet. Hugo also houses the second largest elephant herd in the U.S. during the winter off-season.

The Woods of Southeastern Oklahoma, near Honobia

This part of Oklahoma, rich in streams, creeks and vast tracts of dense, uninhabited forest, is prime Bigfoot territory. Numerous expeditions have been conducted in the area, and the town of Honobia, situated in the Kiamichi Mountains, even holds an annual Bigfoot convention/conference every year, complete with keynote speakers from the scientific community. Local residents have been having encounters with Bigfoot for decades, perhaps centuries if Indian accounts are factored in. Reports of people smelling the beast, finding footprints and eyewitnesses who claim to have seen the creature with their own eyes are widespread throughout the region.

Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City

The legend of Effie, her crying baby and the woman’s nude apparition have been associated with the Skirvin Hotel for decades now. According to legend, William Balser Skirvin, the owner of the original Skirvin Hotel, had a mistress, named Effie, who became pregnant with his illegitimate child some time in the early 1930s during Prohibition. To avoid public detection, Skirvin kept Effie, who had worked as a maid in the hotel, on the top floor of the building as her pregnancy advanced. After the birth of the child, Skirvin continued to imprison Effie and the infant on the top floor, never allowing them to leave. According to local lore, Effie became so stir crazy that she leapt – with the baby in her arms – from the hotel’s highest point, killing them both.

Legend has it that Effie’s baby could be heard crying throughout the hotel, so much so that many guests complained about losing sleep due to the constant sobbing. Some male guests also reported hearing a woman’s voice propositioning them, as Effie was known for her loose morals and promiscuity. Other men reported seeing the image of a naked woman while in their rooms.

World War II bombing site, Boise City

Located in the far west of the Oklahoma Panhandle, Boise City still bears the scars of the bombing it endured during World War II. In fact, Boise City is the only city in the continental U.S. to get bombed during WWII, and it wasn't even by an enemy.

On a training mission in the early hours of July 5, 1943, a B-17 based out of the Dalhart (Texas) Army Air Field mistakenly took Boise City for Conlen, Texas – 30 miles due south. Thankfully for the residents, the bombs were mostly sand and nobody was injured during the 30-minute air raid. Some of the areas hit have been preserved and a memorial stands outside the town’s chamber of commerce, just across from the courthouse in downtown Boise City.

The Old Masonic Home for Boys, Guthrie

Although the Old Masonic Home for Boys in Guthrie was recently renovated and transformed into a posh events center called the Dominion House, the location is still as haunted as any place in Oklahoma. Today, lavish weddings, corporate gatherings and other special events are held on the sprawling property, but when the manor was built in 1923, it served as an orphanage for abandoned children. After a change in state law, the house closed in 1978 and was left abandoned for about 20 years.

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