Texas panhandle history strikes, yet again. This time, though, it's in Canadian, Texas. You might never guess by driving through Canadian now, but once upon a time it was home to one of the wildest heists in the area.
So wild, that it would make for a perfect major Hollywood movie.
Canadian, Texas 1894
Canadian boomed when the railroad came through the area. News reports from the time go on and on about the insanely fast pace new homes and businesses were going up. People were coming from all over to get in on what the town had to offer.
It was sometime in the late fall or early winter of 1894 when a plot involving a ton of cash and a train robbery was acted out in the panhandle town.
It involved a band of outlaws, a sheriff and his posse, some crooked businessmen, and $25,000.
The Train Is Pulling In To Canadian, Texas
According to reports from the time, on a train heading into Canadian, Texas was a payment from Kansas City to a wealthy cattleman in town. The payment was to the tune of $25,000.
Standing watch nearby, supposedly, was one Sheriff McGee. At that time he was the badge and gun of Hemphill County.
When the train made it into Canadian, Texas, a band of outlaws descended upon it and all hell broke loose.
A Massive Firefight Ensues
McGee fired on the bandits, and a gunfight ensued. Several bandits were either injured or killed. The rest would turn tail and run for the Wichita mountains where they would attempt to hide out.
Sheriff McGee would not be so lucky. As one person told it, he was quite literally "shot to pieces." Hell was about to rain down on the crew of outlaws, as friends of McGee formed a posse and went to hunt them down.
One Last Fight At Dawn
The pursuers would ride up on the outlaws and a firefight would begin sometime just after dawn. According to reports, they were friends of McGee's; and there was a lot of them looking to make sure the outlaws received their due.
A firefight broke out shortly after sunrise, and five of the ten remaining outlaws were injured or killed. The rest fled deeper into the mountains and were pursued.
Whatever Became Of The $25,000?
If you go off of the reports of the time, at least from what I was able to drum up, the authorities got it. You see, that money was supposed to be stolen.
Somebody call, Guy Ritchie.
According to legend, some wealthy cattlemen had all gotten together to drum up the plan. They got the money together, and had their accomplice ship it from Kansas City.
The plan was for the money to be stolen once it arrived in Canadian, Texas. Once the bandits made off with the cash, the express company in charge of the shipment would have to pay up. The payday was allegedly going to be split up among the conspirators.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. The cattleman who sent the payment was arrested and brought to Texas on suspicion of being involved. An investigation was started into several others.
I'd Watch This Movie
If you ask me about Canadian, Texas today, I'll tell you that they love high school football. Also, their team is usually a pretty solid bet as their program is intense. I'd tell you about the Dairy Queen there I used to go to as a kid when visiting family.
Now, I'll also tell you about this wild conspiracy and manhunt that all began in Hemphill County. I've paraphrased plenty to save us all some time, but you can find out more starting at this link.