All aboard the Lincoln County Express

Abandoned Route 66 artifacts

Occasionally, you’ll find out about something you unwittingly passed dozens of time but never saw.

One of those things is the so-called Lincoln County Express, a child-sized locomotive and other metal sculptures that apparently have sat off Route 66 east of Stroud, Oklahoma, for decades.

Tulsa photographer Rhys Martin discovered it in June 2014; apparently vegetation conceals it from passing motorists much of the time. The site also includes a metal cactus, a Martian and two cows.

He posted a photo of the train on his Facebook page, and that led to him being on contact with the creator’s family and eventual an article in the current This Land magazine. More about the site:

Apparently, it was built by Paul Hicks, who was born in 1921 and worked as a pipeline welder in northeast Oklahoma. In the mid-70s, he used his metal-sculpting skills to assemble this wonderful roadside attraction. People have been stopping by ever since.

Over the years, various groups have shown interest in this Mother Road gem: Volvo came out in the early ‘90s and took photographs for one of their automobile catalogs, the Children’s Miracle Network inquired about buying it, and Paul himself was even featured on a local PBS broadcast.

Although Hicks passed away in 2001 and the collection has fallen into disrepair, it hasn’t halted a flow of travelers from showing interest. Paul’s family plans to refurbish the train this year so that children can once again come and play on the Lincoln County Express, ensuring that Paul Hicks’ legacy remains intact for years to come.

Martin says he’s surprised how few Route 66 aficionados know about the site. It sits a few hundred yards east of Graham Road east of Stroud. It’s on the north side of the highway; a livestock corral is on the other side of the road.

Martin reported a few days in a Facebook message the locomotive hadn’t yet refurbished. Here’s hoping the family can fix it up next spring so travelers can enjoy it.

(Image of the Lincoln County Express courtesy of Rhys Martin)

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