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Stage robber is arrested, convicted

We started writing last week about Pagosa Springs’s last stage coach holdup, which took place in September of 1892.

It should be noted that in the early days of Colorado history, stage coach holdups were not unusual, especially in mining districts where stage coaches carried mine payrolls and gold.

The holdup we are reporting took place near today’s intersection of Mill Creek Road and U.S. 84. We pick up today where we left off last week.

Three men set out to find the bandit as soon as the holdup was reported to local law enforcement.

The stage driver, a teenager named Alfred Black, was so frightened he gave up driving stage coaches. The three men from Pagosa who were searching for the bandit looked generally in an easterly direction, riding toward Summitville and Antonito. They found nothing.

A week later, the Creede-Spar City stage was held up.

Spar City was a mining camp located a few miles southwest of Creede. It remains to this day as a privately-owned ghost town. A man by the name of Alexander McKenzie was soon arrested for the Creede-Spar City holdup. He was also charged with robbing the Pagosa Springs stage.

When it was learned that McKenzie was a Canadian citizen, the whole affair took on an international hue.

McKenzie was destitute. In seeking funds for his defense, the court turned to the British consulate in Denver. In the end, McKenzie was found guilty of both holdups by the Denver court.

When I first attended local historical society meetings during the late 1970s, the holdup was discussed several times. Some of the oldtimers attending those meetings thought the Pagosa Springs holdup was conducted by a local man, Jule Macht. They didn’t know anything about the arrest and conviction of McKenzie. I don’t know if they were being tongue in cheek or not. One of four brothers, Jule was a prominent local citizen who contributed much to the welfare of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. Macht had a ranch off of the Blanco Basin Road in the Little Blanco drainage where he raised cattle. Among other things, Jule built the brick home at the corner of Third and Pagosa streets in town. He was also prominent in the founding of the Methodist Church.

Correction: Last week when I was describing the stage route from Amargo to Pagosa Springs, I said, paraphrased, “the route left Halfway Canyon and crossed the Navajo River.’” I should have said, “the route left Halfway Canyon and crossed the Blanco River.” The Navajo River is a considerable distance south and crosses U.S. 84 at Chromo.

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