Wild West Fact: Elmer McCurdy

Outlaw Elmer McCurdy’s life may not have been too appealing when he was alive, but as a dead man his corpse did lots of fascinating traveling.  It was in 1911 when Elmer held up a passenger train he thought had lots of money but only came away with $46.  Soon afterwards, the law caught up with the thief and he was shot dead.  His body was preserved in arsenic and sold to a traveling carnival where he was put on display as a sideshow oddity.  Around 60 years Elmer’s body was bought and sold by several different people and traveled all over the place.  It ended up in an amusement park funhouse where a finger was accidently broken off revealing that the figure everyone thought was wax wasn't wax at all, but human.  66 years after Elmer died he was finally buried in the Boot Hill cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas.


  1. I wonder what it was about this particular man that made them think, "Huh, let's dip him in arsenic and sell him to the carnies!"

    Also, I hope that same bright idea isn't said of my corpse one day.

  2. Haha, I have no idea why him, but I thought the story was bizarre. I hope I don't end up in a carnival sideshow either.

  3. How weird! I'm curious as to how anyone could think a corpse was a wax figure? Arsenic could really keep a body that fresh or wax-like? I've actually never thought of arsenic as a body preserver.


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