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"Gunsights!"


  
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 couldn’t continue and if the posse 
caught up to him he would go out in a blaze 
of glory.
 
Well, many years later, after being captured, 
spending time in prison, he was released and 
returned to his old stomping grounds, Laramie 
Wyoming. 
 
I don’t 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 
tourist trade.
 
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 
couldn’t 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 
weekend. 
 
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, I’ve 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 
emphatically, 
"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 don’t 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 couldn’t 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." 
 

"I’ve looked at you over gun sights."


2003 Chip Harding

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7/31/07