Peach Springs and Parker’s Promising Plunderby John Scott on Sep. 10, 2013, under Uncategorized
Ever heard of Peach Springs? It’s a small town in the northeastern part of our state that has an interesting past. In the late 1850’s, pioneers traveling west would stop there to rest and get water. Eventually, a trading post was established.
In post-Civil War Arizona, the railroad chugging through needed water stops with division points, and Peach Springs was chosen as one of the lucky sources. You can guess what happened next; a town sprouted up. In 1887 they erected a post office, and Peach Springs was off and running.
That’s nice…anything of a nefarious nature happen there?
I thought you’d never ask. One February evening in 1897, a gang of evildoers led by James Fleming Parker decided to rob a train just outside of the bustling Peach Springs. Since it was a local gang, two of the miscreants wandered around town to secure an alibi, while Parker and an unknown outlaw held up the train with masks on. For the sake of this entry, our secondary malfeasant (whose identity is still unresolved) will be known as “Peaches.”
The plan was simple. Parker and Peaches would force the watchman to signal for the train to stop. They would get the engineers to uncouple the engine and express car from the rest of the train, and get it moving to Nelson Siding, 2 miles away. There the two would blow the safe and steal the loot. Pretty straightforward.
So, it was all going according to plan when an expressman stepped out and ventilated Peaches with a .45. Parker led the train out, but for some reason never blew the safe and stole the money. Maybe he didn’t know how to use the dynamite. Maybe he missed Peaches.
Eventually, the gang was identified and captured. Peach Springs was finally rid of their outlaw element. There’s more to Parker’s demise, but I’ll save that for a later entry.
In 1907, the railroad moved it’s division point to Seligman, making Peach Springs only a water stop, which spelled its decline. Route 66 helped it a bit, but not enough. Today, the old trading post is still standing and lodges offices run by the Hualupai Indians. Interestingly, Peach Springs is the source for the fictional town Radiator Springs, seen in the movie Cars. If you are up in that area hunting ghost towns, The kids might like that little tidbit. While they are imagining Lightning McQueen racing down Route 66, you can be imagining James Fleming Parker racing his train to the end of a criminal career.