The Saga of Two-Gun Nan — part 4


Headline in San Francisco Call, 29 June 1910

After she lost her way in the Nevada desert, Nan Aspinwall ended up in the little railroad town of Proctor. It was little then and it is a ghost town today, with next to nothing left. According to the article in the Salt Lake Tribune:

After a short rest under what sparse accommodation the little town of Proctor furnished for the girl and her horse, she proceeded to Wendover. From Wendover to Salt Lake Miss Aspinwall had another tough ride. She left Wendover on Wednesday and reached Salt Lake Sunday noon without having slept in a bed in the meantime. One night she sat on a railroad platform of the Western Pacific and held her horse till daylight. Another night she crawled into a barn with a horse and a mule and spent the night. At Garfield Saturday night she shared the stall with her horse.

Concerned for the safety and well-being of Lady Ellen, Nan often bedded down in the stall with her horse. She told the newspaper in St. Louis, Missouri:

“It was Lady Ellen that saved my life. When I was getting ready for the ride everyone told me I wanted a bronc. I knew better. I wanted a thoroughbred. An English magazine had negotiated with me to make the ride, but when I asked them to stake me to at least the price for horse feed they got cold feet. But I wasn’t going to be a piker, so I started on my own book. And I am going to finish the trip.”

Another adventure occurred in Mitchell, Colorado. Riding into town late in the evening, she could find no one who would offer her a meal or a place to sleep. So she pulled out her pistol and started blazing away. Or so she said.

She shot up the town of Mitchell, at the top of the Tennessee Pass, but she says it was not because she wanted to be cute or funny. She was angry. She had knocked on front doors and back doors and nobody had called to her to come in and nobody had come out. So she blazed away at every window she saw. The town woke up and she left hurriedly.

“That story got around,” she says, “and after that I could not draw my handkerchief without starting a panic, so I quit carrying the gun.”

CC19160218.2.30-a3-349wDid she really shoot up the little town of Mitchell? Something must have happened, and Nan was no shrinking violet.

It’s hard to tell how much is truth and how much is exaggeration. But the incident did nothing to diminish the daredevil reputation of “Two-Gun” Nan.



About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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