© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Frontier Justice Goes Awry in Callahan, Calif.


Around 1900 an angry mob sought but failed to apply frontier justice in Callahan, Calif.  A man known to have a terrible temper had drawn a knife and threatened to “disembowel” another man standing at the bar in Baker’s Saloon.  Others in the saloon grabbed the man with the knife and tied him up.  In the heat of the moment, they decided to hang him from a nearby bridge. 

The mob found some rope and hauled the man to the bridge over the East Fork of the Scott River, where they slipped a noose around his neck and tied the rope to the top beam of the bridge.  They pushed the man off the beam toward the rushing water below.

The rope was too long, dunking the man in the river, where he flopped around and nearly drowned.  Undeterred, the vigilantes pulled him ashore and repeated the process.  Again, the helpless man had to be hauled from the water gasping for breath.

While the vigilantes passed around a bottle and argued about what to do next, the man slipped out of the rope and escaped.

Source: Hayden, Ernest A. Along Our History's Trail: An Anthology. Callahan: Ernest A. Hayden, 1984. 57-59. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.