After many years of research combining science with my imagination I have located the site of the last Sierra gunfight.
The last Sierra gunfight occurred in the 1930’s in the depths of the Great Depression on the Main Street (the only street) of a mining town which was located in a forsaken corner of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The town was well known for its’ red dust in the summer, red mud in the winter, and its’ poverty year around. The local claims produced just enough gold to provide the miners an escape from their desperate circumstances by way of cheap, watered down whiskey, but never enough for extravagances like healthy food and proper clothing. Except for one claim to the East of the town.
The one good claim had recently begun producing course gold and frequent large slugs that the Sierra mountains are famous for. This gave all of the local miners some hope, but hope would not buy whiskey, food or clothing in the short term so, human nature being the same then as now, they all began scheming of various ways to get possession of the rich claim. Some considered outright murder but they knew that would just put them first in line for the next miner with the same idea. One miner, however had a plan that might possibly work. He had worked the claim a year previous without success and he argued that he had only rented and not sold the claim to the miner who presently worked the claim. But the miner working the claim argued that he bought the claim fair and square for two dollars and a quart of whiskey. A miners meeting was scheduled for the next Sunday to decide the matter.
There were two saloons in town at opposite ends of Main Street. On Saturday evening the two disputing miners began buying drinks, on credit, for all comers, one on the North end of town, the other on the South end. The drinking went on until the wee hours of Sunday morning and would have continued longer had the saloons stocked a more substantial inventory. The saloon owners were happy to oblige, each thinking that their favorite patron would certainly prevail at tomorrows miners meeting. By sunrise many of the miners were considering cutting off their own heads to alleviate the pain from that now non-functioning appendage but none had the steady hand needed for such a procedure. So they went to the miners meeting in no condition to render a sound, fair judgment about anything that required a fair amount of sound judgement.
The miners meeting started promptly at nine o’clock and was a rushed affair to say the least. The dispute was put to a vote without any discussion, debate or speeches. The vote was a dead even tie. This is not what the miners expected, wanted or needed. What they wanted, expected and needed was to go to their cabins and slip into a deep comatose state which ended in sobriety or death, either being preferred over their current state. All of the miners knew that if the meeting was allowed to continue to break the tie it would devolve into “facts” that could not be substantiated, Presbyterian vs. Methodist, the North vs. the South, Strike vs. dip, and apex and it would take hours if not days to finish. Then one less than sober miner had what sounded like a brilliant idea. “Let them settle this with a gunfight at high noon”. All agreed as this was clearly the most expedient solution, not to mention grand entertainment.
To keep things scrupulously fair, the entire town was searched for the two closest matching revolvers until a pair of identical caliber and manufacture where found, the only difference being one had a slightly longer barrel than the other.
At high noon the contestants stood facing each other at fifty paces. At the drop of a gold pan they drew their weapons. The miner with the shorter barrel cleared his holster first and delivered a fatal shot, but not fatal enough in the short term. The other miner was able to draw his weapon and deliver an instantly fatal shot due to the better accuracy of the longer barrel.
Two good miners lay in the street, their souls departed, their bodies beginning the ultimate return to the earth from whence they came, as shall we all.
The whole town shocked into sobriety and was aghast at what they had done. They knew that the saloons were broke and never to reopen, the red dirt would forever remind them of the bloodshed, and anyone associated with the town would be exiled from polite society. The town and the claims were completely abandon by Monday evening