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Dwight Safford's Luck Runs Out in Crescent City Saloon

Luck ran out in August 1898 for 25-year-old Dwight Safford of Klamath, Calif.  After selling a load of fish in Crescent City, Safford headed to the Willow Saloon, where he was a frequent customer and gambler.

Several drinks later, Safford talked proprietor William Young into resuming their running dice game. As usually happened, Safford fell far behind as he continually lost to Young. Finally, he accused Young of cheating and demanded that the dice be rolled again for the current stake. When Young refused, Safford hit him, made a grab at the money, stepped away from the bar where the game was being played and drew a pistol.  From behind the bar, Young did the same.
Each man fired five shots. Two bullets hit Safford and he fell dead. One shot seriously injured Young, whose luck held out. He recovered and a jury found him not guilty of murder due to self defense.
Safford had many relatives in the Klamath area.  The newspaper account of the shooting suggested that the people of Crescent City bore some responsibility for Safford’s death by allowing gambling in the community.
Source: Nuss, Sandy. Reflections of Del Norte County. Crescent City, Calif.: Del Norte County Historical Society, 2013. Print.

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Shirley Nelson moved to Port Orford on Oregon's South Coast, after having lived 28 years in Medford.  A writer since childhood, she became an elementary school teacher.  As an interested observer of her new environment, Shirley learned the history of Curry and Coos counties. She published a book in 2005 about Coos and Curry counties titled What Happened Here?.  Nelson has published articles and poetry in several magazines, including Oregon Coast.