It was late in the afternoon of July 7, 1893, when the eastbound train slowly went out of sight and all that remained was black smoke in the distance. As the train disappeared, a lone horseman rode west along the tracks toward the station.
In an overly warm room of the train depot eight men sat discussing the topics of the day, as they did a few times every week. The main topic this day started out with the collapse of the price of silver. As a bottle was passed around however, the talking became more heated. Uncle John, the oldest of the men, raised his voice and said, "Back in the tough and tumble days I was hired to protect the Wells Fargo Express Company somewhere in Wyoming and the first time out I killed three stage robbers. Now its time I leave this civilized town of Mancos and go where I can slap my eyes on train robbers, draw my six-shooter and convince them they chose the wrong way of life."
Young Ed Caviness smiled and asked, "Didn't you find killing off bandits a rather risky way to live?"
"Naw, all I needed to do was to get them to look me in the eye and I would commence."
Uncle John's comment was cut short when a stranger walked into the room. He was dressed like a cowboy with a long overcoat. In addition he had a large sock drawn over his head that concealed the features of his face. He held a six-shooter in each hand and calmly said, "Throw up your hands and be quick about it."
Uncle John had obviously not caught the stranger's eye because his hands went up as quickly as the seven other men. The calm highwayman then pointed to Henry Sprague, dressed like a station manager, and said, "Open that safe, Mr. Agent." Then, pointing to Ed Caviness he said, "Take this bag and put all of the money in it."
At that point a salesman, who had come in on the eastbound train and had walked over to the section house looking for a hotel, made the mistake of walking into the room. The bandit said, "You're just in time, mister. Get in line and raise your hands. Now, agent man hand me that bag."
It quickly became obvious the robber was not satisfied for he said, "Turn your pockets inside out. And you", pointing to young Ed Caviness, "put the boodle in this here bag." With the bag in hand, the stranger backed out the door and as he did so said, "Don't even think about lowering your hands for two minutes."
The nine men couldn't hear a sound and decided to lower their hands and check to see where the calm bandit had gone.
Back in the room strode the stranger, who said rather loudly, "I told you to keep your hands in the air for two minutes. Don't any of you make the same mistake again." Nearly two minutes went by before the men heard the clatter of hoofs off to the east.
The aftermath of this Mancos Times-reported heist will come next week.