Recounting Pagosa Springs’ last stage holdup

Pagosa Country’s last stage holdup took place in September of 1892 and resulted in a minor international ruckus.

Seventeen-year-old Alfred Black was driving a mail wagon, a hack, bound from Pagosa Springs to Amargo. Lawyer Frank Spickard was a passenger on the stage.

The holdup took place near the present intersection of Light Plant Road and U.S. 84. In those years the road south out of Pagosa Springs when there was no U.S. 160 and no U.S. 84 went south from the Hot Springs to Mill Creek, (Agua Frio in 1892), then up Agua Frio to about where U.S. 84 is today, then south to Amargo and the Denver and Rio Grande train station. The route was similar, but in no way identical, to today’s route through Coyote Park and Edith.

The Pagosa Springs News reported: “On Monday morning three miles out from Pagosa, the mail carrier was unceremoniously invited to hold up his hands. Frank Spickard was a passenger and the request was also directed at him. Alfred Black was driver that morning. As the two gentlemen looked down the barrel of a large six shooter they unhesitatingly, though unwillingly, complied with the slight request.

“The occurrence took place on top of the first hill beyond Montroy’s ranch, where a man behind a tree gave orders. He made the parties get out of the wagon and turn their face away from him. Then he ripped the mailbag and after taking out what he desired he relieved Mr. Spickard of $38 cash. After commanding them to resume their seats in the wagon they were ordered to lose no time in hitting the road for Amargo, with which request they complied. They drove on about three miles when they turned back and came back to Pagosa and related their experience. Three men started in pursuit at once but as of this writing they have not returned yet.

“The driver saw but one man, but Mr. Spickard thought once of making a determined resistance, when at that moment he was looking down the barrel of a Winchester protruding from a tree on the other side of the road and heard the click of a gun as it was being cocked. Mr. Spickard at once gave up the idea of contesting his rights as a free American citizen.

“There were but two registered letters in the mail that morning, one containing fifty dollars sent by J.M Bonnett, and the other contained five dollars sent by Mrs. Cade. So the robbers secured $55 in the mail and $38 from Spickard. Besides this they took from Spickard papers belonging to J.V. Johnson, which represented about $2,000 in value which Mr. Spickard had for collection.

“This is the first time that the mail on this route has been robbed. The passengers have been held up as recently as 1882.”

Young Black was so impressed with the holdup that he gave up driving stages. Following the holdup of the Creede-Spar City stage a week after the Pagosa Springs holdup, a Canadian citizen by the name of Alexander McKenzie was arrested and charged with both crimes. McKenzie was destitute. In seeking funds for his defense, the courts turned to the British consulate in Denver. After a considerable amount of international pushing and shoving, McKenzie was convicted of the robberies in a Denver court.