When I was but a wee lad, I had the opportunity
to get to know and become, friends with the last
train robber in the old west; and I guess that
it shows how old I really am. As wild as it may
seem, this is a true story.
His name was Bill Carlisle and when I knew him
he was an old man. I was in Junior High School.
Bill had robbed trains in Wyoming belonging to
the Union Pacific Railroad a number of times
and escaped, but finally a posse caught up with
him and he spent over 20 years in the State Pen.
He had been kind of a Robin Hood figure at the
time, as homesteaders and small ranchers hated
the UPRR and some even hid and helped Bill in
eluding the posses.
On his last robbery, he had slipped onto the
train at a water stop. He hated rich people
but never took anything from the poor, or at
least that was his story. The last robbery took
place during World War one and there were a
number of soldiers on the train going home on
leave for Christmas.
According to Bill, He ordered everyone but
women and soldiers to "Shell it Out."
He went along and collected everything that
they held out. As he reached the end of the
car, a soldier at the other end pulled a
.22 pistol and shot him in the hand.
Bill jumped off the train and got his horse
and took off for the wild country near Laramie
peak. He knew the country and the people there
were his friends.
Well, to make a long story short. A posse came
after him and after several days they were
closing in on him.
He was hungry, cold and in considerable pain
from the wound in the hand. He had decided
that he couldnt continue and if the posse
caught up to him he would go out in a blaze
Well, many years later, after being captured,
spending time in prison, he was released and
returned to his old stomping grounds, Laramie
I dont know how he did it, but when I knew
him he had a restaurant and motel and general
tourist trap at the east side of Laramie and
used his reputation as a gimmick to draw the
Over the years, he had become a good friend
of my great uncle and they loved to play
poker. My uncle won his motel etc from him
a number of times in big games, but said he
couldnt take the only honest thing Bill
had ever done.
I was working at our ranch up at Medicine
Bow one summer and Bill came up to visit one
By now Bill was an old man. Sunday afternoon
another car load of old-timers came to visit
my uncle and aunt and they got to playing
cards and visiting.
One of the new comers was a fellow named
Eenie Peterson, he was in his 90's at the
time. He sat across the table from Bill and
as the afternoon wore on I noticed that Bill
was really looking hard at Eenie.
Finally he asked Eenie,
"Have we ever met before?"
Eenie said, "No, Ive known about you all
my life, but we never met."
They went back to the cards, but Bill was
still looking. Finally he said very
"I know you from somewhere....... was you
ever on a posse that was looking for me?"
Eenie said, "Yeah, I was on one, but we
never got close to you, there was another
bunch that finally caught up with you."
Bill said, "Was you on the one that rode up
(I dont remember the name of the Crick)
and at one point you all stopped and lit a
fire and had coffee?"
Eenie, now began to look at Bill with real
interest and said "Yeah, Why?"
Bill said, Well, I was tuckered out and
decided that when the posse got a little
closer, I was gonna pop the first one,
and die fighting. I was hid in some willows
and was gonna bushwhack them when they came
around the bend. But the posse stopped about
50 yards away and made a fire.
Well, Eenie was plumb interested now and you
could hear the wheels turning.
Bill said, "One rider separated from the bunch
and rode up the draw towards me and I figured
he was my man. I pulled the gun out of my pocket
and took a bead on the guy and was about ready
to pop him, but he got off and took a crap and
rode back to the bunch. They rode back the way
they had come.
"I just couldnt shoot a man with his pants down."
Eenie was wide eyed by now and said quietly,
"I rode up that draw and took a crap!"
Bill leaned back in his chair and said, "I know.
I told you I had seen you before."
"Ive looked at you over gun sights."