As It Was: Wild Ride Down Mountain Scares Judge
Judge John Grider arrived in Siskiyou County in 1888 to visit his mother in Scott Valley.
He boarded a stagecoach in Yreka driven by Johnny Mack, who promised to get Grider to Fort Jones by sunset. On the way, Grider grew irritated at Mack’s slow pace and frequent stops “to cut off a plug of tobacco, crumble it into a pipe and deliberately take his ease in smoking.”
Mack assured the judge, “My friend, if I don’t put you in Fort Jones before sunset, I will refund your stage fare and pay your hotel bill.” He invited Grider to join him on top of the stage.
Reaching the summit of the mountain eight miles out of Yreka, the horses began racing down a crooked, narrow road to the valley below. Grider feared one wrong move or mechanical error would spell doom, but Mack proclaimed that in 20 years he had never been accused of reckless driving. They reached the valley floor an hour before sunset.
Grider admitted later that he had come to admire Mack, and told others to shut their eyes and put their trust in the driver.
Source: Johnny Mack (and) the Stage Ride He Gave an Eastern Tenderfoot in ’88. From the information files at the Siskiyou County Museum [Yreka, CA], date unknown.