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The Passing Of Peg-Leg
In the early part of September, '91, the eastern overland express on the Denver and Rio
Grande was held up and robbed at Texas Creek. The place is little more than a watering-
station on that line, but it was an inviting place for hold-ups.
Surrounded by the fastnesses of the front range of the Rockies, Peg-Leg Eldridge and his
band selected this lonely station as best fitted for the transaction in hand. To the
southwest lay the Sangre de Cristo range, in which the band had rendezvoused and
planned this robbery. Farther to the southwest arose the snow-capped peaks of the
Continental Divide, in whose silent solitude an army might have taken refuge and hidden.
It was an inviting country to the robber. These mountains offered retreats that had never
known the tread of human footsteps. Emboldened by the thought that pursuit would be
almost a matter of impossibility, they laid their plans and executed them without a single
About ten o'clock at night, as the train slowed up as usual to take water, the engineer and
fireman were covered by two of the robbers. The other two--there were only four--cut the
express car from the train, and the engineer and fireman were ordered to decamp. The
robbers ran the engine and express car out nearly two miles, where, by the aid of
dynamite, they made short work of a through safe that the messenger could not open. The
express company concealed the amount of money lost to the robbers, but smelters, who
were aware of certain retorts in transit by this train, were not so silent. These smelter
products were in gold retorts of such a size that they could be made away with as easily
as though they had reached the mint and been coined.
There was scarcely any excitement among the passengers, so quickly was it over. While
the robbery was in progress the wires from this station were flashing the news to
headquarters. At a division of the railroad one hundred and fifty-six miles distant from
the scene of the robbery, lived United States Marshal Bob Banks, whose success in
pursuing criminals was not bounded by the State in which he lived. His reputation was in
a large measure due to the successful use of bloodhounds. This officer's calling
compelled him to be both plainsman and mountaineer. He had the well-deserved
reputation of being as unrelenting in the pursuit of criminals as death is in marking its
Within half an hour after the robbery was reported at headquarters, an engine had coupled
to a caboose at the division where the marshal lived. He was equally hasty. To gather his
arms and get his dogs aboard the caboose required but a few moments' time.
Everything ready, they pulled out with a clear track to their destination. Heavy traffic in
coal had almost ruined the road-bed, but engine and caboose flew over it regardless of its
condition. Halfway to their destination the marshal was joined by several officials, both
railway and express. From there the train turned westward, up the valley of the Arkansas.