Bull Run: Boom and Bust for Nevada Natives

The last thing Fred Searcy would have been thinking about before the .44 caliber slug pierced his skull was the snow. It was coming down hard on Dec. 5, 1916, and Searcy was struggling to keep control of his horse-drawn coach as he navigated the 30 miles of dirt track from Three Creek, ID to the isolated mining town of Jarbidge, in northeastern Nevada. Searcy’s cargo—money and mail—was eagerly anticipated. It was payday in Jarbidge. When the coach failed to show, people got worried. Later that night, when searchers located the missing wagon, Searcy’s snow-covered body was still atop it and the money was gone. All of it.

The subsequent investigation pointed to someone in town—an outsider with knowledge of the coach’s haul. Ben Kuhl fit that description. A drifter with a criminal history that included doing time as a horse thief, Kuhl had only been in Jarbidge for a couple of months and he’d already been arrested for trespassing. With a shaky alibi of having been at the saloon at the time of the killing, Kuhl was quickly taken into custody—among his possessions was an ivory-handled .44 caliber revolver. Eventually, Kuhl was convicted of the murder. He would spend the next 27 years and six months of his life in the Nevada State Prison. The crime would go down in history as the last horse-drawn stage robbery in the United States. To this day the money has never been found. The story goes that it’s still buried along the banks of the Jarbidge River, just outside of town…

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