Christa Rice

On a ghostly All Hallows' Eve, Claremore's creepy C.C. Long's Historical Museum would have been the perfect place to spend a skin-crawling sleepless Halloween night. According to an entrance ticket held by Randy Leach, the museum was strategically located just off Route 66, at 1002 West Will Rogers Boulevard, Claremore, Oklahoma, where Reasor’s stands today. Four blocks south of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and visited by tourists from around the globe, Long’s mysterious inner sanctum was said to be filled with over 50,000 unique oddities, “items of historical importance from all over the world, dating back to the 17th century” (John Denbo, museum postcard). Each carefully chosen artifact was displayed for tourists’ education and enjoyment, yet, only 10% of the entire, extraordinary assortment was available for viewing all at once; there just wasn't enough floor space to exhibit the matchless collection of exceptional, archived treasures.

Long’s is indelibly remembered for its more than 100 bone-chilling wax figures, brought to life "to surprise, delight, and shock" unsuspecting guests. Likenesses of notables such as President John and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Claremore’s own favorite son and humorist Will Rogers, and female airplane pilot Amelia Earhart were among the reincarnated statues. One advertisement brochure also exclaimed, "See the world's most famous 'Last Supper' in life sized wax figures."

“World-famous personalities almost talk to you! Five movie stars, statesmen, and inventors - to the ghastly display of the corpses of Hitler and his henchmen, his mistress, the wax figures at Long's Historical Museum make the personalities live again. Intricate detail and authentic settings will live long in your memory.” Other celebrities included “The Beatles - inimitable British rock-and-roll singers and Henry Ford and his Tin Lizzy."

There were shrunken heads to churn the stomach and pique the imagination as many a soul wondered, "How and why did they do that?"

The museum held the world's second largest gun assemblage containing "one of the world's finest Colt collections." (Of course everyone knows that the world's largest gun collection was just down the road at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Claremore.) Also on exhibit were "one of the most complete coin collections in the world;" a "vast stamp collection;" and a "typewriter that types several different languages" which was a rarity in an age before desktop computer technology. The museum preserved "beautiful antique cars including an elegant 1911 Cadillac," and the "hearse which carried Abraham Lincoln's body to" its "second burial." There were "antique music boxes - most of which still play perfectly well," and an "unusual piano collection including player pianos, one of which also has player violins." Again, this would have been unique in a time before synthesized electronic musical instruments. A "huge African lion" was displayed “in authentic jungle setting featuring replicas of lush undergrowth native to natural habitat" (Long’s Historical Museum Brochure, Holbrook Printing, Tulsa, Oklahoma).

Long's Museum Chapel was advertised as the world's most beautiful. The museum gift shop was filled with exotic souvenirs to purchase and mementos to take home. There was even a Long’s Motel and pool nearby to entice the weary traveler to spend the night.

Nostalgic Claremore residents remember visiting Long’s on school field trips and family outings. Unfortunately, the museum left Claremore half a century ago, disappearing from local phone book listings after 1978, leaving history enthusiasts, connoisseurs of the quirky, peculiar, odd, and grotesque looking elsewhere for comparably bizarre museum-worthy eccentricities. Yet, such bewitching childhood memories are not easily set aside. Those who “long” to recapture the past, remember Long’s Historical Museum and its distinctive presence in Claremore.

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