Submitted by scott on Tue, 09/27/2016 - 11:38
42° 28' 41" N , 108° 21' 41" W

Located 12 miles from Warm Springs Station and 12 miles from Rock Creek Station on east side of Silver Creek. Known by many as St. Mary’s Station. This was a Home Station and William Reid was Station Tender. The site of St. Mary’s Stage Station, also called Rocky Ridge Station because of a cliff near by, is marked with a stone tablet. The station was built in 1859 by Russell, Majors and Waddell, and when the transcontinental telegraph line was established in 1861, St. Mary’s was made a depot. In May, 1865, while the 5-man garrison hid in an abandoned well, 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho burned the station and cut 400 yards of telegraph wire. When the ammunition in the buildings exploded, they fled. The station was rebuilt, but nothing remains except old square-cut nails, melted glass, broken pottery, and pieces of telegraph insulators.
(Expedition Utah)

The 1861 Overland Mail Company contract listed this station site as Rocky Ridge, but apparently the station was also known as St. Mary's. Several sources identify Rocky Ridge as a station site. Bishop and Henderson place the station between Warm Springs and Rock Creek, while James Pierson locates it between Rock Creek and South Pass. Franzwa describes Rocky Ridge as a "desolate" summit in his Oregon Trail maps, but he does not identify any station site there. On the other hand, Franzwa does list St. Mary's Station in his Oregon Trail maps, but he does not specifically identify the site as a Pony Express stop. He places St. Mary's between Warm Springs Station and Rocky Ridge. Whereas, James Pierson identifies St. Mary's as a station between Three Crossings and Rock Creek. (NPS)

"In due time we rattled up to a stage-station, and sat down to breakfast with a half-savage, half-civilized company of armed and bearded mountaineers, ranchmen and station employees. The most gentlemanly- appearing, quiet and affable officer we had yet found along the road in the Overland Company’s service was the person who sat at the head of the table, at my elbow. Never youth stared and shivered as I did when I heard them call him SLADE!
Here was romance, and I sitting face to face with it!—looking upon it—touching it—hobnobbing with it, as it were! Here, right by my side, was the actual ogre who, in fights and brawls and various ways, had taken the lives of twenty-six human beings, or all men lied about him! I suppose I was the proudest stripling that ever traveled to see strange lands and wonderful people.
He was so friendly and so gentle-spoken that I warmed to him in spite of his awful history. It was hardly possible to realize that this pleasant person was the pitiless scourge of the outlaws, the raw-head-and-bloody- bones the nursing mothers of the mountains terrified their children with. And to this day I can remember nothing remarkable about Slade except that his face was rather broad across the cheek bones, and that the cheek bones were low and the lips peculiarly thin and straight. But that was enough to leave something of an effect upon me, for since then I seldom see a face possessing those characteristics without fancying that the owner of it is a dangerous man.
The coffee ran out. At least it was reduced to one tin-cupful, and Slade was about to take it when he saw that my cup was empty.
He politely offered to fill it, but although I wanted it, I politely declined. I was afraid he had not killed anybody that morning, and might be needing diversion. But still with firm politeness he insisted on filling my cup, and said I had traveled all night and better deserved it than he—and while he talked he placidly poured the fluid, to the last drop. I thanked him and drank it, but it gave me no comfort, for I could not feel sure that he would not be sorry, presently, that he had given it away, and proceed to kill me to distract his thoughts from the loss. But nothing of the kind occurred. We left him with only twenty-six dead people to account for, and I felt a tranquil satisfaction in the thought that in so judiciously taking care of No. 1 at that breakfast-table I had pleasantly escaped being No. 27. Slade came out to the coach and saw us off, first ordering certain rearrangements of the mail-bags for our comfort, and then we took leave of him, satisfied that we should hear of him again, some day, and wondering in what connection."
(Roughing It)


To the Postmaster of Virginia City, Mont. Terr.
(Hezekiah L. Hosmer)
15 September 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.

Buffalo, Sept. 15.

Dear Sir:1

Four or five years ago a righteous Vigilance Committee ‸in [your ]city‸ hanged a casual acquaintance of mine named Slade, along with twelve other prominent citizens whom I only knew by reputation. Slade was a “section-agent” at Rocky Ridge station in the Rocky Mountains when I crossed the plains in the Overland stage ten years ago, & I took breakfast with him & survived.2

Now I am writing a book (MS. to be [delivered ]to publisher Jan. 1,) & as the Overland journey has made six chapters of it thus far & promises to make six or eight more, I thought I would just rescue my late friend Slade from oblivion & set a sympathetic public to weeping for him.3

Such a humanized fragment of the original I Devil could not & did not go out of the world without considerable [newspaper ]eclat, in the shape of biographical notices, particulars of his execution, etc., & the object of this letter is to beg of you to ask some one connected with your city papers to send me a Virginia City newspaper of that day if it can be done without mutilating a file.

{If found, please enclose in LETTER form, else it will go to the office of Buffalo “Express” & be lost among the exchanges.}

I beg your pardon for writing you so freely & putting you, or trying to put you, to trouble, without having the warrant of an introduction to you, but I did not know any one in Virginia City & so I ventured to ask this favor at your hands. Hoping you will be able to help me4

I am, Sir,

Your Obt. Serv’t

Mark Twain.

1 Hosmer (1814–93) had been the first chief justice of the supreme court of Montana Territory, serving from 1864 to 1868. Then from 1869 to 1872 he served as postmaster of Virginia City, the territorial capital. Clemens may not have known Hosmer, or even his name, but assumed that the postmaster could redirect this request appropriately.

2 On the morning of 3 August 1861, the ninth day of his overland journey to Nevada Territory, Clemens had breakfasted with Joseph A. (Jack) Slade (1829?–64), an Overland stage agent and a notorious desperado and murderer, who was hanged on 10 March 1864 in Virginia City, then part of Idaho Territory. He had already recalled their encounter in his seventh “Around the World” letter, in the Buffalo Express of 22 January 1870 (RI 1993, 584–88, 810–11; SLC 1870).

3 Clemens devoted chapters 10 and 11 of Roughing It, both of which he completed in March 1871, to Slade’s nefarious career (RI 1993, 60–75, 811, 819, 835–36).

4 Hosmer’s reply is not known to survive, but it seems likely that he sent Clemens, or referred him to, Thomas J. Dimsdale’s The Vigilantes of Montana (1866). The book, based on articles Dimsdale had published in the Virginia City Montana Post in 1865–66, was a primary source for Clemens’s account of Slade in Roughing It (RI 1993, 584–86, 811).

SLC to the Postmaster of Virginia City, Mont. Terr. ..., 15 Sept 1870, Buffalo, N.Y. (UCCL 00506), n. 1. <>