Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life and Death in the Old West

Calistoga sure doesn't look like the old west anymore. There are wineries, vineyards and restaurants. Mercedes-Benz and BMW's seem to be the primary mode of travel, but there was a time when Calistoga was part of the old west.
...One of my favorite rides is the Silverado Trail from Napa to Calistoga. After a great spring ride, Marie and I stopped at Buster's Barbeque for lunch. After lunch we stopped at the Pioneer Cemetery, just west of Calistoga on Hwy 28. We located the grave marker of Bud Philpott. Here is the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper article from March 16, 1881.
At about 11 o'clock last night, Marshal Williams received a telegram from Benson stating that the Kinnear & Company's coach, carrying Wells Fargo & Co.'s treasure, had been stopped near Contention and "Budd Philpott, the driver, killed and one passenger mortally wounded. Almost immediately afterward A.C. Cowan, Wells Fargo & Co.'s agent at Contention City, rode into this city, bringing a portion of the details of the affair. In a few minutes after his arrival, Williams, the Earp brothers, and several other brave, determined men were in the saddle, well armed, en route to the scene of the murderous affray.
...From telegrams received from Benson at the Epitaph office, the following particulars were gathered.As the stage was going up a small incline about 200 yards this side of Drew's Station and about a mile the other side of Contention City, a man stepped into the road from the east side and called out "Hold!" At the same moment a number of men--believed to have been eight--made their appearance, and a shot was fired from the same side of the road, instantly followed by another. One of these shots struck "Bud" Philpott, the driver, who fell heavily forward between the wheelers, carrying the reins with him. The horses immediately sprang into a dead run. Meanwhile, Bob Paul, Wells Fargo & Co.'s messenger, one of the bravest and coolest men who ever sat on a box seat, was ready with his gun and answered back shot for shot before the frightened horses had whirled the coach out of range.
...It was fully a mile before the team could be brought to a stand, when it was discovered that one of the shots had mortally wounded a passenger on the coach named Peter Roerig. As soon as the coach could be stopped, Paul secured the reins and drove rapidly to Benson, and immediately started back for the scene of the murder. At Benson a telegraph was sent to the Epitaph office, stating that Roering could not possibly live. There were eight passengers on the coach, and they all united in praise of Mr. Paul's bravery and presence of mind.
...At Drews Station the firing and rapid whirling by of the coach sent the men at the station to the scene of the tragedy, when they found poor "Bud" lying in the road, and by the bright moonlight saw the murderers fleeing rapidly from the place. A messenger was at once dispatched to inform agent Cowan of the circumstances, and within twenty minutes after the news arrived Mr. Cowan had dispatched nearly thirty well-armed volunteers after the scoundrels. He then rode rapidly into Tombstone, when the party above mentioned started out to aid in the pursuit. This, with Mr. Paul's party, makes three bodies of determined men who are in hot chase, and Mr. Cowan stated to an Epitaph reporter that it is almost impossible for the murderous gang to escape, as the pursuers are close at their heels and have moonlight in their favor. Should the road-agents be caught they will meet with the short shift which they deserve.
..."Bud", the murdered driver, whose real name is Eli P. Philpott, was one of the most widely known stage-drivers on the Coast. For years he has borne a high reputation as a skilful handler of the "ribbons," won on the principal stage lines in California, and during a year's residence in Arizona, most of the latter time in the employ of Kinnears (formerly Walker & Co.'s) line. He will be sincerely mourned, not only by hosts of personal friends, but by thousands of passengers who have ridden on the box seat with him and been captivated by his simple manners and frank, manly ways. It was a rare treat to "make the trip" with him, for his memory was rich in reminiscences of the "old stage days" in California, and when he so willed he could keep a companion's attention riveted by his quaint, droll conversation. He has a wife and young family at Calistoga, California, who had the tenderest place in his big heart. And now there is another little home in the world which has been desolated and despoiled by the ruthless bullet. There is something inexpressibly sad in the sudden death of such outwardly rough, but inwardly brave, true hearted men, and no better representation of this class could be found than the man whom the murderers last night sent unwarned to his last home. He was proud and fond of his team and the big new coach on which he met his death as if they were human, and the horses aways seemed to know when "Bud" was at the other end of the lines.
...Posses headed by U.S. Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp and Sheriff Johnny Behan failed to find the perpetrators. Bud Philpott had a further brush with fame, as Tombstone's Dr. George Goodfellow inspected his remains, made a report at the inquest and billed the county $100.00.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mr. Desmo Cuts a Long Deal

...My friend Greg, who owns a Ducati Monster and has been thoroughly desmodromic, had developed a need for pushrods, probably something having to do with approaching old age. Maybe he is one of those rare motorcyclists that can recognize the beauty of both the Ducati and the Harley Davidson, but it's probably just old age.

.....Greg had been looking for a Road Glide, but when he found a really good deal on a Street Glide, he bought the bike. It was a beautiful 2007 Street Glide with only 8,000 miles on the clock, but he still really wanted a Road Glide.

.....It's a big world, somewhere out there is a guy, a mirror image of Greg, who has a Road Glide but really wanted a Street Glide. Call it fate, call it predestination, call it Craig's List, sure enough there's a guy in Salinas with a 2007 Road Glide with 4000 miles that wanted to trade for Street Glide.

.....They met at the San Jose Harley dealers parking lot, traded bikes and went home happy.