Bay Area's Last Stagecoach Robbery Commemorated By Band of Eccentrics Wearing Funny Hats
The masked man demanded stagecoach driver Ed Campbell throw down the Wells Fargo strongbox and the mail bags before passing a hat among the coach's several passengers. He then fired his gun in the air, spooking the horses and sending the coach on its way. His haul for the day: An empty strongbox and mail bags and $4.30 from the passengers. Even 104 years ago, this was no great haul; a round-trip stagecoach ride between Half Moon Bay and Pescadero -- then a resort for well-heeled San Franciscans -- cost $4. Even worse, one of the coach passengers had been hiding more than $100 and a gold watch, which eluded driving goggles-feedbag man.The highwayman was never caught.
The ignominious raid was the last in Bay Area history; The steady march of progress ensured that future miscreants would engage in train robberies or car-jackings. And it was commemorated over the weekend with the placement of a plaque along what is now a quiet, Hillsborough road by the San Francisco chapter of E Clampus Vitus -- a society of men with a fondness for drink, Western history, and bizarre attire (not necessarily in that order).
The news of a stagecoach robbery -- an archaic crime even for 1905 -- was the Bay Area's big story of the day, and inspired the following ditty in the San Francisco Call:
Huzzah! Romance returns again, once more as in the days of old/For a slideshow of the peculiar plaque dedication, click here.
Disdaining banks or chu chu train, a robber stops a stage for gold/
Trouble for the terrible tempered triggerman terminated:
Hurrah! Such news is great immense!
But softly, what is this I am told?
This robber robbed me for thirty cents?