Claremore museum plans new statue of Andy Payne

The Claremore Museum of History in Claremore, Oklahoma, plans to place a life-size statue of local athlete Andy Payne at Lynn Riggs Park, also known as Gazebo Park, a few blocks east of Route 66.

The Claremore Daily Progress reported a new exhibit, “The Andy Payne Family Collection,” donated by Payne’s daughter, will be shown in the museum this fall.

Payne, a Cherokee Indian resident of nearby Foyil, Oklahoma, won the 3,400-mile International Trans-Continental Footrace (aka the Bunion Derby) in 1928, much which took place on a fledgling U.S. 66. He earned $25,000 for winning the race in 573 hours, 4 minutes, 34 seconds — a pace of 6 miles per hour.

The newspaper reported the museum plans to debut the exhibit and the statue Nov. 17.

The collection includes items from Payne’s service in the Army, artifacts from the Bunion Derby, such as his original jersey, books, correspondence, drawings, photos, recording and scrapbooks. Also included will be a bronze sculpture by the late John Free Sr. and son John Free Jr. made at Bronze Horse Foundry.

Claremore Museum of History Director Andy Couch said that by some great luck, the statue of Payne that the Museum hopes to acquire was one of only a handful of statues not destroyed in a fire at the artists’ foundry in 2012.

The statue will be engraved so that the jersey is identical to the jersey on display in the museum. The jersey will set this statue apart from the three others cast by the same artists located at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, OK, along Route 66 in Foyil and by Lake Overholser in front of the Cyrus Avery Observation Tower at Route 66 Park in Oklahoma City.

Payne went on to be a clerk for the Oklahoma Supreme Court before his death at age 70.

Gazebo Park sits at West Will Rogers Boulevard and North Weenonah Avenue, about one-third of a mile east of Route 66.

(Screen-capture image from video of Andy Payne during the 1928 Bunion Derby)

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