Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Blog with Author Karen Nutt

Legend of the Missing Loot

My story Wanted takes place near Flagstaff, Arizona in late 1800s, where outlaws still proved a threat. A real life hold-up in 1881 inspired the back story for my western tale, though my story has a happier ending.

The end of the line for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was at Canyon Diablo, putting the passengers about thirty-five miles east of Flagstaff. The passengers would have to board a stagecoach taking the California-Santa Fe Trail toward Flagstaff.

The day of the robbery, the stagecoach passengers waited patiently as four mailbags were transferred from the train to the coach. A few of the passengers noticed two of the mailbags appeared to be quite heavy and thought it odd at the time, but didn’t question it.

Once all the baggage and the passengers were situated, the coach headed north out of Canyon Diablo and then west onto the California-Santa Fe Trail. In Flagstaff, the passengers and baggage would meet the next stage that would take them to Needles where they could catch the next train.

The trail along the San Francisco Peaks is steep, but the horses climbed steadily until they reach a flat divide. Before they could go further, five riders broke from the trees and surrounded the stagecoach with their six guns drawn and ready to use. The leader motioned for two of the outlaws to go to the back of the coach. They took only two mailbags and left the rest. They didn’t even bother to rob the passengers, letting them all go without hurting a soul.

Once the stagecoach reached Flagstaff, the terrified passengers disembarked and rushed to tell the station agent about the robbery. Everyone was confused why the outlaws would want mailbags.

The stage master finally learned that the two missing bags contained $125,000 of gold, silver and coins that were bound from Albuquerque Bank then to a San Francisco Bank. Wells Fargo, who had been plagued by stagecoach robberies, had attempted to fool the outlaws, by packing the gold and silver in two five-gallon whiskey kegs in each mailbag. It appeared the stagecoach outlaws had an inside source at Wells Fargo.

A posse set out immediately, but the outlaws had too much of a head start. Wells Fargo demanded the help of the U.S. Army and the patrol of the 6th U.S. Calvary to find the outlaws. Two Indian scouts were enlisted to help also. They picked up the trail and found the men holed up in a log cabin near Veit Springs. The outlaws opened fired and the cavalry returned the gesture. In the end, all five outlaws lay dead. The authorities went through the outlaws’ belongings, but didn’t find the gold or silver. Word spread fast and the next day, men arrived to look for the hidden loot. The entire area was dug up, but nothing was ever found.

For years treasure hunters have dug all over the slopes, the dirt floor of the cabin, around the spring and even in the nearby ice caves, but to this day, no one has claimed they found the missing loot.

Excerpt of Wanted


Outlaw JoBeth Riley finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff, Jace Kelly whose kindness proves a distraction. She’s an outlaw for heaven’s sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.

(JoBeth has just been arrested as is behind bars)

So the sheriff had a little girl. She was cute as a button with rosy cheeks and big blue eyes, a brighter blue than her father’s. As if the little girl sensed someone staring at her, she turned. Her gaze fastened onto JoBeth before widening in surprise.

She tilted her head to the side then squealed in delight, clapping her hands together as if someone handed her a present. “She’s here. She’s really here.”

JoBeth’s brows drew together in a frown. She turned to look beside her, half expecting someone to be standing next to the cot. Her gaze fastened onto the little girl once more with a frown.

“Now, Emma, don’t be making this out to be something it’s not,” the sheriff said.

Her hand went to her mouth, cupping it as if she were going to whisper, but her voice rang clear as day. “She has dark hair and green eyes. Didn’t you notice?”

JoBeth looked at Jace and by damn he turned two shades of red. Interesting. She looked at Emma again. Who did the child think she was?”

“That’s enough, Emma. We’ll talk about this later.”

“But she’s my Christmas present.” Her hands flew to her waist and she stomped her foot with indignation.

JoBeth’s brows rose on their own accord. A Christmas present, now this she had to hear.


Tina Donahue said...

I love Flagstaff - have been there many, many times. Your books sounds so interesting, Karen. Can't wait to read it. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

A stagecoach ride might be fun for a mile or two but, a long trip just sounds like torture to me.
I might have to go back to Arizona and see if I can find that missing loot. It sounds as illusive as winning the lottery.
I read Wanted and loved this heartwarming story. I also fell in love with your Fallen series. I read Eli and loved him. Now I'm reading Lucca and wondering how I'm going to go from hating him to loving him. LOL
You are such a wonderful and talented storyteller, Karen. I wish you the very best.

Delaney Diamond said...

Karen, this sounds so interesting. The excerpt left me hanging and made me want to read more. I want to know what the little girl means by what she said. Lol.

Best wishes!

Renee Vincent said...

Oh, Karen, your pics are lovely. I just got back from a Wyoming / Montana vacation two days ago and your photos make me want to go back out west! It is truly a grand place in the world.

Great to get to know you and learn about your new release! All the best to you, dear!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...


Thanks so much coming by.

I loved Flagstaff, too. On our family holiday to Arizona, we also stopped in Jerome and Tombstone. We had so much fun exploring.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...


You're so sweet! I'm thrilled you enjoyed Wanted and are enjoying my Fallen Angels. :)

I loved your western tale, Harmonica Joe's Relunctant Bride and look forward to reading the next book, too. Can't wait. You need to write faster. lol

Take Care

Karen Michelle Nutt said...


Emma is a pistol and she does know what she wants. :)

Thanks so much for coming by and saying hi!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...


Arizona is beautiful. If you like old western towns, they have a few interesting spots to explore.:)

So nice to meet you and thanks for the good wishes!

Kathy Otten said...

Loved the missing loot story and your great photos. The Christmas present idea is cute. Another book for my list of books I want to read.

Adele Dubois said...

Welcome, Karen! As a lifelong east coast resident I'm always fascinated by western stories and pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Best of luck with your new release.


Karen Michelle Nutt said...


I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping in to say hi! :)

Karen Michelle Nutt said...


I love those old stories and legends. They also make great back stories for my tales. :)

Thanks so much for popping in for a quick hello.
If you have the chance to read Wanted, I hope you enjoy the tale as much as I did writing it.

Take Care,

Tara MacQueen said...

What a great excerpt! I love Arizona... I'm hoping I get a chance to read this as I've been to Santa Fe and it was amazing.