"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Anvil Chorus
Sometimes people think they are doing something positive for a town, but they end up learning that, though it was a good thought and may happen someday, now wasn’t the right time to introduce such an idea. Sometimes it may cost a life, like it almost did for our temporary Marshal, Nils.
Okay, okay…let me explain! You see, Micah wanted to go to Santa Fe to attend a wedding. The daughter of his best friend (outside of me, of course), was getting married. Now mind you, it would only be for a couple of days, but I had to decline his request to be Marshal for those couple of days. Branding season, you understand. I kindly explained to him that Mark and I had spent the last week bunching up our herd. If we didn’t get right on it, they’d scatter again. I didn’t have time to deal with all that again.
“It’s just that…well…next to yourself, Joey Adams is the best friend I’ve got!” Micah declared. Then he started in on remembering the daughter. I had to stop him there!
Boy, did he ever know how to make a man feel guilty! "Micah, I'll stand deputy for you anytime...except branding season!"
He understood, that's why I was the last one he asked, but he thought it was worth a try.
Just then Nils, the blacksmith walked into Micah's office. Nils cleared his throat. “Howdy Micah...Lucas, I got your horse ready for the trip.” Micah thanked him. “Say, I couldn't help hearin' you needed somebody to take your place while you're out of town."
"I may not be going out of town," said Micah.
"Cause you can't you get nobody to stand in for ya'?" You could just tell that Nils was hinting at something!
"That's right!" Micah answered.
"Well...uh...what about me?” We both turned and stared at Nils. Now there’s a scary thought! “Well, things are slow at the shop...and I've got time."
Micah and I looked at each other, reluctantly. "Well...I," said Micah. I interrupted him and told him that I had to be on my way. There was no way I wanted to be involved in this!
Nils said goodbye to me and then turned back to Micah. "Well?"
"Well...hum...nothing personal Nils, but I...I just never thought of you holding down the Marshal's job," Micah answered kindly.
"I could do it as good a job as any man in town. Better then most!"
Micah hesitated. "I'd hate to be makin' a mistake.”
Nils was hurt with that and turned to leave, but then he turned back to argue some more. "I've been in this town as long as Lucas McCain, and ain't I always held up my end when there was trouble?"
"That's right...you have," Micah agreed.
"Like the time you deputized me and we caught the Sheridan gang," said Nils proudly.
"Yes but...there was ten other deputies riding with us," said Micah.
"Well just the same, I've always done my part!" As Nils turned to leave he said, "Of course if you don't want to go to the wedding...why..." Micah felt bad.
He asked Nils if he thought he could handle it. He convinced Micah that he could and that our town was peaceful and all he'd have to do was keep it that way until Micah got back. "Alright...I'll take the chance...I mean I appreciate your offer and I want to thank you for it," said Micah. He then got one of the deputies' badges out of his desk drawer and handed it to Nils. As Micah started to leave Nils wanted to know if Micah was going to swear him in. Micah told him he had been sworn in before, but Nils thought this was different. So Micah obliged him. As Micah was leaving he told Nils not to let anybody push him around. He told Micah he didn't have to worry he would keep everyone in line. "Just keep the peace...that's the main thing," said Micah. Then he got on his horse and rode off.
Nils was thrilled! The first thing he did was pin on the deputies' badge. Then he took off his blacksmith apron and went over to where the gun belts were hanging and tried to put one on. It didn't fit.
Just then sounds of shooting and hollering was coming from the street. Nils grabbed a shotgun from the rack and literally ran out to see what was going on. It was Ed Bundy, one of North Fork's citizens. Ed was excited because his wife just had a baby boy. Ed kept shooting and yelling while Nils tried to get him to stop. Everybody started laughing.
Just then Nils turned the shotgun on Ed. "Ed...I warned ya'!" He made Ed hand over his gun. Ed wanted to know why Nils was giving him orders. "I'm taking Micah's place while he's gone up to Santa Fe. Until he gets back, I'm keepin' the peace! If I have to take every gun in town to do it!" The whole town laughed. Nils looked at Ed’s gun. “As a matter of fact, it might not be a bad idea!”
“Now you ain’t serious!” Ed said.
“Maybe…” Nils answered. “I’ll just have to give it some more thinking.” That made the men laugh even harder. He told Ed he could have his gun back when he left town.
“Dog gone, if he ain’t the one!” Ed declared. Nils walked to the middle of the street and proudly looked around. The deputy badge was going straight to his head – and you know what that means: BIG TROUBLE for the town of North Fork!
That night, in a camp outside of North Fork, there were four men eating around a campfire. They had plans to go to North Fork and stock up on supplies. “Understand they got a lot of cattle money there. Bank’s oughta be fatter than most!” one of the men declared.
But Karl Platt, the leader of the gang put an end to their thoughts. “You can forget that!” He walked back over to his men. “You got the right idea but the wrong place. More men in prison with me from North Fork than any town from 500 miles around! Talk is it’s like walking into a nest full of lawmen. Everyone in it willing to stand up with the Marshal. So tomorrow, we’ll ride peaceful into North Fork, and we’ll ride out the same way.”
If you think that problem was too easily diverted…well, you are right! Because the next day, when Mark and I rode into town, we had a bit of a surprise waiting for us! And this wasn’t one of those good surprises, mind you. I didn't even get a chance to get off my horse when Ed Bundy approached me and told me what had happened. He said he thought at first Nils was just showing off, but now today things were getting worse. This job of Nils was going to his head and wearing that badge on his chest made him even more prouder and he liked being in charge. Nils didn't think about it very long. Before you knew it, he was posting a sign outside. I looked toward Nils and went to see if what Ed told me was really true.
I walked up to Nils. "Nils," I said.
"Oh Howdy Lucasboy...Mark. Nice quiet town we got here. Like I've been telling the folks...don't take much to keep it that way.” Lucasboy? Since when did Nils call me Lucasboy??? I read his sign...
“No exceptions,” Nils said as he pointed at my rifle.
I sure had something to say about that! "Nobody takes this rifle away from me, Nils. You know that!”
"I don't mean to 'take' the rifle from you Lucas, but if you're gonna be in town, I'd like to have you turn it in. Sorta set the example for the other folks." I asked Nils what has come over him. He told us that as long as he was wearing that badge he had to do what he thought was right. He felt people going around carrying guns causes' trouble and if you take away the guns, no trouble! "Have you had any trouble since Micah left?" I
asked him. He said that he hadn't except for Ed Bundy shooting holes in the sky. “Because his wife had a baby?” I was getting irate.
“Well, he could have hit somebody!”
“I think that badge your wearing, Nils has got you shooting holes in the sky," I declared. “I think you’ve gone plum-“
Nils interrupted me. “No use getting excited, Lucas. Micah will be back tomorrow…the next day. Two to one he’ll go along with it…probably wonder why he didn’t think of it himself!” Nils actually believed this! I couldn’t believe it.
“He did think of it, long before you did. But he decided it wouldn’t work here – not yet. Nils, this territory has a lot of growing up to do and until that’s done, we can't take away a man's right to protect himself.” He told me not to give him any problem and if I intended on staying around town I would have to hand over my rifle. "Then I won't be around. Mark you pick up the stuff at the Hardware and don't be late, it's gonna be dark soon and I want you home before night fall."
Mark told me not to worry and headed over to the Hardware Store. Nils could tell I was upset with him. “I won’t give you any problem, Nils. I just hope you don’t make your own.”
"If I do, which I won't, I'll be ready," Nils declared. I knew from experience that those words had disaster written all over them!
Just then, three strangers rode into town. Nils excused himself and headed over to the cowboys. I stood there and watched to see how the cowboys would take the news. The cowboy named Stagg gave Nils a hard look. He turned in a stance as if he was about to draw on Nils. “I don’t give my guns to nobody, mister!”
Platt stopped him. He turned to Nils. "Marshal...you mean no one can carry a gun in this town anymore, Marshal?"
"That's right," said Nils. "New law!" As Nils motioned for the guns he said, "Now don't give me any trouble boys."
Stagg still insisted he wasn't giving up his gun. But Platt started unstrapping his guns. “Give the man your gun Stagg."
"What!?" Stagg was, puzzled.
"Give the Marshal your gun...don't you understand? This is a peace loving town." The third cowboy, Duff, tapped Stagg on the shoulder as to say...give up your gun. Duff then walked up to Nils and handed him his gun, along with Platt and then Stagg. Nils told them they could pick up their guns at the Marshal's office when they were ready to leave town. I just shook my head. I was surprised, but Nils managed to pull it off.
Mark was finishing up at the Hardware Store when the clerk asked him if he would drop off a package for Micah. He said that Nils had been so busy collecting guns that he forgot to pick up the mail. Mark was glad to do it for him.
The three strangers headed straight for the saloon. Stagg was still complaining about giving up his gun. “Look at that,” Platt said as he started looking around the saloon. The other men looked around too. “Not a gun in the place. It sure is nice when people decide to live peaceful like that.” The other two didn’t understand what he was getting at. “I was just thinking…this isn’t the North Fork I heard about. This isn’t a town of lawmen.” Platt laughed. “This is a town of sitting ducks!” Platt told them that they are going to go ask for their guns back because their leaving town. Stagg wasn’t too happy to hear that. “In the morning we’ll be back…just about the time the bank opens.” They all understood. “Well gentlemen, let’s drink to the Marshal. We owe him a lot of thanks for making this town a safe place to travel.”
Nils was hanging up yet another holster when Mark walked in with Micah’s mail. Nils took this opportunity to brag a little more on what a grand idea he had. He showed Mark all the guns hanging in the office. “You see, your Pa’s wrong. People have no objection to giving up their guns, as long as they got someone they can trust to look out for them.”
"Oh...you mean Micah's back!" Mark declared happily
“No son, I mean me.”
“Oh.” Mark handed him the mail.
Nils could tell Mark was worried. “What the matter, son? Don’t you think I’m doing the right thing either?”
Mark wasn’t sure. “It kinda makes sense that if nobody wore guns, there wouldn’t be any trouble. But still-“
“That’s right! And that’s what I’m doing – removing the cause of trouble. Guns! All men are brother's, son. That's what the good book says, doesn't it?"
“It may be,” Mark agreed. “But…but people don’t always act like their brothers, Nils.”
“But I’m here to protect you, boy. That’s what that badge is saying I’m here to do.”
Just then, Pratt left out a laugh. Mark looked up and saw them. They wanted their guns back. While Nils was busy getting them their guns, Mark decided to open the package of Wanted Posters that had just come in. When he opened them, Pratt’s face stared back at him. Mark was shocked. Without thinking, he looked up and stared at Pratt. Then he quickly lowered his head back down, but not before Pratt saw him. Mark quickly folded the package back up.
Pratt continued smiling as he looked towards Mark. “How ‘bout you, boy? You got your guns checked too?” Nils laughed, thinking these men were outstanding citizens. Mark said no. “How come?” He leaned over and picked up the package. He continued talking as he looked inside. “Don’t tell me you’re too young to carry a gun.” Mark slowly started around the desk and toward the door. “Why, I was only half your age when I was carrying a gun.” Platt walked towards the door as well.
Suddenly, Mark tried to bolt out the door, but Platt grabbed him by the arm and drew his gun. He held it on Nils. Stagg and Duff did the same. Their plans had been changed. He showed them the wanted poster on himself and told them they would be staying in town tonight. .
I was back at the ranch getting supper on the table. Now, if you remember right, I told Mark to be home by dark. Well, it was dark and Mark wasn’t home yet. What did Mark say before I left? Don’t worry? Well, I walked to the door and scanned over the range. I saw no sign of my son. I was worried and upset, not knowing if there was something wrong or if he had disobeyed me.
They locked Mark up in a cell, threatening to hurt him and Nils if he yelled out for help. Mark had no choice but to stay quiet. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Nils asked who it was. It was Sam Benson. He came in to get his gun, complaining about the trouble it was to leave his gun every time he came into town. “I’d sure trade my troubles for yours right now!” Micah declared.
Benson stared at Micah. “What kind of troubles you got, Nils?”
Pratt stood up and told Benson that Nils was about to lose his third game of checkers. That satisfied Benson. He started to leave. “Goof-goodnight, Lucas.”
Benson stopped at the door. “Why are you calling me Lucas, Nils? You know my name’s Sam!” Nils apologized, stating he’d just made a mistake.
Pratt wasn’t happy with Nils. “I think the marshal’s trying to play a game with us.” They started to teach him a lesson about that when another knock suddenly sounded at the door. It was Benson. He was upset. Nils had given him the wrong gun back. “The least you can do if your so set in taking people’s guns is give back the same ones you took!” Boy, Benson just wasn’t taking any of the hints!
Nils tried to tell Pratt he’d made a mistake. Pratt slowly walked up to him, grabbed him, and slapped him across the face…twice.
Meanwhile, I was sitting at the table waiting. The later it got, the more worried I was. I was trying to eat but wasn’t having much luck with it. Suddenly, I heard someone ride up. “Mark?” I called hopefully as I rushed out the door. “Is that you, son?”
But it was Sam Benson. He said he was on his way home and thought he'd stop for a minute. I asked him if he saw Mark on the road or in town. He said he hadn't seen him at all. That worried me even more. He said he stopped by because of Nils. “That fancy notion of his collecting guns and all…”
I smiled. I knew what he meant. I didn’t like it either. “I know what you’re thinking, Sam. But Micah will be back in another day and I don’t Nils can do much harm before then.”
“Yeah, maybe so, but he just plum doesn’t know what he’s doing! Now, when I went in to get my gun, he gave me somebody else’s instead. Worse then that, he…he called me by your name!” I was surprised at that. That just didn’t sound right. I found that odd and asked him if there was anybody else with Nils. He said there was a man playing checkers with Nils. But he didn't know who he was.
That got me to thinking. Maybe there was trouble in town after all. More worrisome, maybe my boy was in some trouble! I didn’t waste any time! I grabbed my rifle and hat and hurried into town!
Pratt put Nils in the cell with Mark, who was tending to his face where Pratt had hit him. They were happy to see the town all settled down for the night. Pratt was glad to see Nils settled down to. He told Nils that next time he would kill him. Nils apologized to Mark for getting him into this. Mark tried to tell Nils it wasn’t his fault, but Nils knew better. They would have never tried this if the town had been armed. “Taking folk’s guns away was asking for trouble! People like this bunch hanging around taking advantage of peaceful ideas…I don’t know what got into me, acting the way I did.”
Mark thought on it for a minute. “Well, you just wanted to do the job better than anyone else, that’s all.” But again, Nils knew the truth – he’d let the badge go to his head.
I rode into to town. It was quiet. I had a bad feeling about this. I grabbed my and went over to Micah’s office. I tried looking in the window, but the blinds were down. I knocked loudly on the door, hollering for Nils. The men hurried and got Nils out of the cell. I continued knocking and hollering for Nils. Pratt told Nils to answer, and reminded him – no tricks!
"Nils, its McCain."
"What do you want McCain? You just woke me up!" Nils yelled.
"I came to check my gun while I/m over at Sweeny's. I don't want to break that law of yours! Now let me in!" I yelled.
"It's late McCain...keep the gun! Just don't go gettin' drunk so I have to throw you in jail like I had to the last time!"
That’s what I needed to know. "I won't Marshal...I won't." I headed around the back to look in the cells
When I looked in the window of the cell, I could see Platt and his gang. I also saw Mark and Nils in the cell. I picked up a small stone and tossed it into the window to get either Mark or Nils attention. Mark looked up and saw me. He sure was glad to see me! He motioned to Nils. I held my rifle out, letting them know I was ready to fight.
In a whisper, Nils spoke to Mark. “Mark, you get down on the floor and play sick. You stay down here until it’s all over now.
Mark started moaning. Duff asked what was wrong with Mark and Nils told him he had taken sick and to have a look. When Duff walked over to the cell he asked Mark what was ailing him. ”Nothing. It’s just that there’s a rifle pointed right at your head, mister,” Nils warned him. Duff laughed, but then he heard me cock my rifle. "The man behind that gun could take the head off a pop weed at 50 yards." Nils took Duff’s gun. He held the gun on Duff. “Now open that door…quiet.”
Nils started into the office. As Nils and Duff got to the doorway, Duff tried to warn Platt and Stagg. Duff dove to the floor. I shot Stagg...Platt shot Nils. Platt ran out the front door. I hurried to catch him.
Duff, while lying on the floor went for a gun. Nils shot at him and warned him to leave it alone.
When I got to the front of Micah’s office, I found Platt trying to mount his horse. “Hold it, mister.” I cocked my rifle and held it on him. I ordered Platt to drop both guns. He held his hands up as I led him back into the office. We had the three covered. Mark ran out of the cell to stand by Nils.
I looked at Nils. "You did fine, Nils."
Mark ran to my side. I put a father hand on his shoulders. "Didn't he son?"
"He sure did!" Mark declared proudly.
Mark and I stayed at the Marshal's office while Nils was at the Doc's office. He thanked us for our help “I’ll be glad to help anytime you get shot up, Nils,” I teased him.
Nils laughed. “You think Micah will ever talk to me again?”
"When he sees the customers you've got in his jail, I think he'll be coming to you for advice," I said.
"Well...I know what advice not to give him!" Mark and I looked at each other. Mark smiled really big. Nils walked into the office.
Then Mark started “thinking.” You know how that goes! "You know Pa...I can't help thinking what Nils tried to do was really right," said Mark. "Someday this town.....this whole territory is gonna be so different that people are gonna just have to change their ways."
"Maybe so son...but it will take a lot of changing to make them give up their guns."
"Yeah but I think it’ll happen." Then his imagination kicked in. "You know I…I think that someday this street right here is gonna have buildings that stick up right to the sky. And we'll have machines that take the place of horses.” Now that really got my attention! “Like the train took the place of the covered wagon,"
I looked at my boy as if he’d just gone loco. "Machines to take the place of horses!!!!!"
Mark looked at me, beginning to think I thought he was crazy. “Well?”
I firmly shook my head no. No way, no how! They made Mark change his tune. "Nah...I guess not.”
That was better!
piddlin' stuff.....Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
Adam Williams appeared in six episodes ― The Challenge as Jake Pardee, the leader of the gang and the one who thought he had to prove himself ― The Score is Even as Jax, he was the one in charge and the one who told Andy to kill the McCain's ― The Prisoner as Corporal Troc a ex-Confederate officer and the aide to Major Aaron King ― The Anvil Chorus as Platt, the leader of the gang ― The Executioner (which he wrote) as Russell Ganaway, he was a former friend of Lucas', just released from jail and the one who hid the stolen money on the McCain Ranch ― The Old Man Running as Jeb Sherman, the leader of the gang and wanted for killing a railroad agent.
Steven Marlo appeared in four episodes ― The Patsy as Doke Marvin, one of Sully Hobbs' gang ― The Hero as The Domino Kid, he was the one that Colly Vane shot in the back ― The Assailants as Sgt. Will is the one who confronted Micah in the telegraph office ― The Anvil Chorus as Stagg the cowboy who said he wouldn't give his guns to nobody.
Norman Alden played Duff, he was one of Platt's gang, the one in black.
William "Bill" Megis appeared in three episodes ― The Sheridan Story as Colonel Cushman ― The Second Witness as Deputy Phil Rogers, he's the Deputy that offered Lucas safe passage to Silver City when he went to testify. We can understand why Lucas turned him down, being that his first witness got killed while he was guarding him. The last episode he appeared in was The Anvil Chorus as Sam Benson, he's the guy that went to get his guns from Nils when Nils was acting deputy marshal and Nils called him Lucas.
Michael Harris appeared in three episodes ― The Sister as the man who was talking to Earl Battle in the beginning of the episode ― The Challenge as the cowhand in the saloon ― The Anvil Chorus as Ed Bundy, he was the cowboy whose wife just had a baby boy.
Olan Soule played The Hardware Clerk.
Cap Somers/Frederick "Cap / Fimp" Somers appeared in eight episodes of The Rifleman ― Day of the Hunter as one of the townsmen ― The Deserter as a card player ― The Vision as a cowhand ― Woman from Hog Ridge as a townsmen ― The Martinet as one of the townsmen ― The Decision as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go as the bartender ― The Anvil Chorus as one of the townsmen.
John Rice appeared in a total of eight episodes, seven episodes as a Townsman and one as a barfly. ― Day of the Hunter ― A Case of Identity ― The Fourflusher ― The Promoter ― Miss Bertie as a barfly ― The Wyoming Story ― Face of Yesterday - Anvil Chorus.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
You've just got to check out this link on Gun Control that Al from the Culpepper Log done on this episode!
Gun Control on The Rifleman, The Anvil Chorus Episode #154, 1962.
Be sure and check out all of Al's retro website — if you think The McCain Ranch is huge, wait until you see his site! Those oldies but goodies!
Bloopers - Anvil Chorus
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
around The McCain Ranch