I have written about Horse Thief Canyon before but that canyon, actually more than one, were all in the state of Kansas. It seems the name was popular in several places including the state of Oklahoma.
In Logan County, Oklahoma, just a little south of the Cimarron River, lies a rugged canyon known as Horse Thief Canyon. It is thought the canyon was given it’s name sometime around 1892 due to all of the outlaw activity in the area, not to mention more than a few horses that went missing. The canyon has several steep bluffs and rock overhangs that could have been used for shelter and there are stories of people finding make-shift rail fences in more than one spot in the heavily timbered canyon.
The canyon has several stories about outlaws using it as a hideout and it is known that law-abiding cowboys passing through the area took shelter in the canyon on occasion. In later years people wanting to go on a picnic or camping trip also frequented the canyon. One of the more famous visitors was a man by the name of Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton. For those college fans out there Pistol Pete’s image of a weathered, two gun packing, mustachioed cowboy was used as the logo for Oklahoma State University.
Horse Thief Canyon became a semi tourist attraction in the early 1930’s and owner of the land at the time opened it up to tourists for hiking, camping and “nature study”. Is that what we do? Nature study? I’ll have to remember that one!
With a little bit of research in the old newspapers of the area you are sure to find the many stories of the outlaws that used the canyon as a hideout and I would guess that there are more than one or two carvings in the canyon that would warrant a little look-see.
This also sounds like a spot that would make for some good relic hunting too. As we all know, there are more kinds of treasure out there than just gold and silver.
It’s ironic that one of the most memorable things that occurred in Horse Thief Canyon is a meeting that was held by the Anti-Horse Thief Association around the time of Oklahoma’s statehood.
Horse Thief Canyon is located in Section 23 and is just about a mile long and you can just about drive right up to it.