"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Lost Treasure of Canyon Town
Micah, Mark, and I decided to have some family time together. We went to High Butte to settle a cattle deal. We talked Micah into going along with us to take in the Bill Cody Circus Show. On our way home, Micah requested a detour so we could see the town he grew up in. Canyon Town was now a ghost town.
Mark was curious to know if anyone still lived here. Micah told us that when the mines gave out, folks just drifted away – there was nothing left here for anyone. “Well, it looks like we have our choice of putting here for the night or…on the trail,” I announced. Micah wanted to wait here. If we got an early start in the morning, we’d make it to North Fork by Friday.
We rode down the street. The wind was blowing the dirt and tumbleweeds all around us. I looked around as I got off my horse. Micah said that when he was a boy it was big city life. He pointed to the 5 cent whisky sign at the saloon. “If my memory serves me correctly, the price included all the stew you could stow away.”
Mark saw something and interrupted me and Micah. He saw a door closed all by himself. He was having typical boy jitters. Micah and I looked and saw the door closing. “Well, the wind plays funny tricks on un in a ghost town, Mark,” Micah explained. “The door’s all warped and dried out – they open and shut by themselves.”
Micah’s answer didn’t satisfy my boy. “Well, there’s only one way to find out, son,” I told Mark. I patted his shoulder as we started toward the old general store. We walked inside. It was empty. “Well, are you satisfied, Mark?”
Micah was busy reminiscing his boyhood. “One of the biggest treats I can remember as a boy is being allowed to sweep out the store here for a stick of licorice.” We looked around and I couldn’t help but to see all the dust in the store. There was an open door and I saw an entrance to an old mine. Micah and I went out to investigate it while Mark stayed inside.
We stood outside as Micah remembered. “Just about everyone who owned a piece of property in town tried their hand at mining some time or another. Why, in ten years more then five miles of tunnel was dug underneath this town. It’s like a crazy patchwork quilt down there now.” The payoff was few. Most folks, including Micah's father, only had blisters to show for their work.
Mark picked up an old newspaper and started reading it. Without looking up, he started to walk forward. He bumped into a big man. You should have seen the look on my boy’s face when he realized there was a strange man standing in front of him! He was shaking – he was so scared! Then he started backing up, trying to get away from this man and ran into the counter. He knocked off a lamp, which crashed to the floor. Micah and I heard the sound and decided we best go investigate it.
I must admit that when I walked in and saw that man standing there like that I was a bit startled. But Micah walked right up to him. "Say, you look familiar mister," he commented.
Just then an older man with a crutch entered the store. "I knew it…I knew it!" "It's – your young Micah." It was Mr. Newman the bigger man was his son Herbert. It had been 25 or 30 years since Micah and the Newman’s had seen each other. They were the only two left in town. Micah introduced us. “Now, are you all gonna come to our supper table peaceable, or am I gonna hafta get mean and start dragging?” Mr. Newman asked. We accepted his invitation. We told him it was really kind of him to invite us. “Not kind, not kind at all!” He stated. “Just a windy old cuss lookin' for some friendly ears to bend! Micah told us he was a fine old gentleman. You couldn't help but like the guy.
Bus Mark stopped me when we started to leave. He was still concerned about that door. "Mr. Newman and his son came through that door so they couldn't have been in here. But somebody closed that door!”
I tried to stop my boy’s fretting. "The answer is simple Mark, nobody closed it." I put my hand on Mark’s shoulder and led him out. "Like Micah said, the wind plays tricks on ya'. We went out to get our horses. Mark couldn't help but look back. The door closed again. Mark stared at the door. I walked up beside him. "Doors still closing on you son?" I teased him.
"I guess so," Mark answered, the sound of fright in his voice.
"You wouldn't like much livin' in a ghost town, now would ya'?"
We had a hearty meal around the supper table that night. Mr. Newman was telling us about his mining. “Well, along bout that time the bank been moved out, leaving us the last in town.” Mr. Newman turned to Micah. “Say, now that you know we’ve been staying on here, maybe you can get out here now and again!” Micah said marshalling in North Fork kept him busy. He explained where he had been.
Mr. Newman laughed at the mention of Bill Cody. He’d heard he’d turned into a side show fella. He figured Mark got a kick out of seeing the circus – Mark said he certainly did!
I figured it got lonely here for Mr. Newman. He said he had his boy there to keep him company. Micah wondered what kept Herbert here. “Oh, a man can make a fair living scraping up tunnels. A dollar or two a day.”
Mr. Newman told his son he could tell us that he was hoping to strike again. Herbert stayed silent. “Guess strike was the wrong word to use,” Mr. Newman commented. “Only a fool would keep on prospecting after a thousand people have dug day and night year after year. You know, Micah, there is a strike here. It was found by my boys twenty years ago. Found…and lost." Micah suddenly remembered that he had two other sons “Had, Micah. Austin and James died some twenty years ago. Seemed like the voice of the Lord said that much gold better be left in the earth.”
The wind began howling. Mark stared outside, still afraid that there were ghosts or something out there. I smiled at him. I sure was having fun at his expense!
Mr. Newman kept talking. “Well, going on twenty years…we was the last family in town. We’re thinking about making our move. Me and my boys - move out on a little farm maybe. The boys were working the tunnels, takin' out a dollar here and there, wanting enough to stake a piece of land somewhere. And then they found it. Breaking through this wall into a cavern – a cavern that would like to blind ‘em for gold croppings. Gold, Micah! Gold so thick you could break off chunks off the wall with your hands. I was up here in the house fixing some grub. The boys were digging in the caverns along about the third day. And then I felt it – the earth trembling. Herbert was the only one that got out alive. It was bad enough before the earthquake – finding your way through all those tunnels. But after it was all over…” He shook his head.
I asked him if he ever found the cavern they were working in. “I looked once. That was to say a prayer to a blank wall – a prayer that my boys would rest in peace. Herbet kept searching. Tunneling here, tunneling there – hoping to strike it again – more gold then a man would ever see in a lifetime. But it seems as though the cavern was just swallowed up in deep earth.”
Mark looked out the window again. He saw something strange in the window. I looked up and saw it too. “You see it too, Pa?” Mark asked. I did see it, but I didn’t figure it was anything bad. Mr. Newman started laughing. Those tumbleweeds gets them every time! I laughed at my boy’s fright. I couldn’t believe how frightful Mark was being!
Mr. Newman asked Micah to stay the night – he had a good supply of blankets handy.
Micah said that after supper we would go up the slopes to his old homestead. Mr. Newman informed Micah that it was still there. I told Micah we’d take a walk up the slope “if Mr. Newman would leave the dishes for us.”
Mr. Newman said he’d play us a game of checkers for that privilege. He told Mark if he fetched the lanterns in the back room that would take care of his share of the dishes. Mark was all for that! He got the lantern and started to leave when he felt someone watching him from behind the curtain. He slowly walked over and pulled the curtain back. There was no one there.
We started up the hill. Micah was breathless by the time he got to the top. “You know, I recall racing up this hill and having enough wind at the top to whistle a tune.”
Mark laughed. “I bet I can whistle a tune after running to the top,” Mark commented. Micah agreed with Mark.
Something was bothering me. I felt that Herbert was bothered about something. Micah remembered him a a quiet, studious boy not much different then he is now. I just got the feeling the sooner we got out of town the better he'd like it.
We kept walking along the path. But we stopped at a tunnel entrance. Micah waved me to come over and look at it. “This here’s a tunnel entrance where I used to play a trick on my Pa. When we’d pass, I’d duck in here and use it for a shortcut and come out up ahead.”
"Time passes quickly, doesn't it Micah?" I commented.
"Like the wind on your cheek Lucasboy. Here…and then gone." We then started off again.
Little did Micah or I know that Mark didn’t follow us. He had listened to Micah’s story and decided to play a trick on us. He smiled as he hurried into the cave. He went in further and further, trying to guess the right way to go. Deep and deeper in the cave he went. But suddenly, he felt…and heard…that there was someone behind him. He hurried along, hoping to come out of the other end soon. With each passing second, he grew more and more fearful. “Pa?” he called, hoping it was me.
But there was a laughing man behind him. “Pa?” he called again. Then he turned and started running. He was afraid someone was after him. He hurried, desperate to get away.
Micah and I Walked on along the path, unaware that Mark was no longer behind us. Micah commented that it was a shame an intelligent man like Herbert would chain himself to this town. He didn’t like the Newman’s spending the rest of their days here. We had stopped and I kept looking behind us to see where Mark was. I called out to him. We had thought he was right behind us. “I wonder if he’s cutting through that tunnel after hearing me say it was a shortcut.”
I was a little miffed at that boy! “Micah, that boy loves to play tricks like this!” I stated. “I better go on back and follow him through.” Micah said he’d wait on up ahead where he should come out.
Mark was still running through the tunnels. He heard moaning and someone running behind him. “Pa!” he screamed fearfully. Meanwhile, I walked into the cave looking for him. I did my best to follow his tracks.
Mark felt he had to get out of there – and fast! He looked came to a dead end and started looking for a way to escape before the groaning caught up with him. He found a hole in the wall and climbed up into it, escaping from the other man. He fell down the other side
The deeper I went into the cave, the more concerned I became. “Mark!” I called several times, shining my lantern to see if I could find him. But Mark never answered. I kept tracking him.
Mark stood up and looked around his surroundings. As he shown his lantern around, he found a skeleton. He stared at it, not quite believing what he was seeing. Fear gripped him as he realized that something strange was going on.
Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him. Mark spun around to see what it was. He held his lantern up as hands moved rocks out of the way. It was me. Boy, was Mark relieved! “Pa,” Mark breathed thankfully. He sure was glad to see me!
I was upset with him. "Mark! What are you doin' in there?" I pushed rocks out of the way so I could climb in and yell at my boy some more. "Mark...there's nothing smart about you cutting through these tunnels,” I griped as I climbed inside. “You might have got lost or have got hurt."
"I was only trying to play a trick on ya' but I found-" He started to explain.
But I interrupted him. I wasn’t through with this boy yet! "Do you realize how far underground you are? Why did you come down this far?" I demanded to know.
"I didn't know where to go...there was somebody behind me-"
Again, I interrupted him. "I was behind you son...didn't you hear me calling?"
"No I didn't," Mark answered. He turned and looked toward the skeleton.
I shook my finger at him. "Mark if you ever pull a trick like this again-" I started, but then I suddenly stopped when I saw what was bothering Mark.
It was a skeleton. “Well, I was trying to tell ya'!” Mark stated. “Who do you think it is?”\
“I don’t know,” I answered as I grabbed his lantern and started toward it. I found a knife in the skeleton – he had been stabbed.
Mark called to me again. “Pa, bring the lantern!” I shown it on the side of the cave. “Look Pa, it’s gold!” Mark declared. This was Mr. Newman’s cavern. “Well, that must be his-“Mark stared. “But Pa, Mr. Newman said he had two sons lost in the earthquake.”
I knew the answer to that already! “No earthquake, son. From the looks of that opening over there, I’d say this cavern was sealed off by a stick of dynamite and whoever that man is…he wasn't trapped in here, he was stabbed with this knife. I thought we better take this to Micah and let him figure it out.
As we started to leave, Mark commented that he didn’t think it was me behind him. He kept hearing sounds. I asked him what kind of sounds as I gave him back the lantern. Just then he hollered "Pa!"
I turned to see what Mark was yelling about. There was a strange man – like a cave man – with a pick axe getting ready to hit me. I suddenly started fighting him. We struggled with each other. He started choking me with my rifle. I worked at getting loose. I hit him hard with my elbow twice, then flipped him over. But he pinned me to the ground and started hitting my head on the ground. I punched him hard. As he reached for a big rock, I grabbed my rifle and cocked it. "Alright...hold it!" I ordered as I aimed my rifle at him. He stood there frozen with the big rock held over his head.
Slowly, he threw the rock down. I stood up and grabbed my hat. “Alright, who are ya'?” I demanded to know. He didn’t answer. “Who are ya'?” I screamed. He didn’t say anything, but just stared at me. “Are you Austin Newman?” He said nothing. “Are you James Newman?”
He went berserk. "Your not gonna take me! Your not gonna take me alive!" He started to tear the braces loose in the cavern walls. Everything started to give way. “Let’s get out of here, Mark!” I yelled. I grabbed Mark and ran. We hurried through the opening. “Are you alright Mark?” He nodded. “Alright, move!” I yelled. We got out of there in a hurry. Micah heard the commotion and came looking for us. I told him the place was gonna cave any second and that he needed to get us out of there.
When we got back to the Newman place Herbert told us the story. "It was brother against brother. There was more gold then one man could use. Yet they fought. James had killed Austin. They fought over shares and they both lost. One dead, the other living the death. Driven mad by what he done to flesh n' kin.” James had been living in this town for twenty years without Mr. Newman ever seeing his son. Herbert explained that his Pa's eyesight had always been poor. "After I dynamited the cavern there was no cause for him to think that there wasn't an earthquake. No cause for him to believe that his sons hadn't died like honorable men. The gold was there, right within reach. I never touched it. I left Austin there just the way he died. James...how could I ever explain what James was?" He had taken care of James all these years. James lived in the tunnels and only came out at night. His mind was gone but he knew he was to protect the secret of the caverns. He left his father think that he was searching for gold when he was really trapped here. He and his father. He had to protect this secret.
Just then Mr. Newman got up from his nap. He asked what had been happening. “We were in the tunnels, Mr. Newman. Some of them collapsed,” I announced.
“Collapsed?” Mr. Newman turned to his son. “I just don’t see no point, son. I just don’t see no point in your keeping looking for this cavern and maybe loosing your life!” Micah told him that he and Hebert were just discussing that and thought it was time for them to get that farm. That made Mr. Newman happy. “Well now, I just don’t know what to say!” I reminded him he had a checker game scheduled. “Right!” Mr. Newman stated. He ordered Micah to get the checker board. He was sure hppay!
Later, Mark was out on the front porch. I went out to talk to him. "What are you thinkin' about son?"
"For a moment there I really thought we were rich," he answered.
"Well, we are. We're very rich. You'll realize it more and more the older you get.”
"What do you mean, we don't have any gold?" Mark pointed out as he sat down beside me.
I had to make him see there were more to riches then money. "No…but...do you remember the old oak tree back at the ranch that you use to climb when you were knee high? That's gold to me, Mark. Real gold. And then the fields in back of the barn, the way they look in the morning green with dew. And at night after a hard day's work sitting around the house with the fireplace going. That's a kind of gold, isn't it?"
He understood. "Your right, Pa.” He thought about it for a second. “You know something, we really are rich." I smiled at him as I tipped his hat and slapped my arm proudly around his shoulders.
piddlin' stuff.....William Fawcett appeared in two episodes ― Lost Treasure of Canyon Town as Mr. Newman the nice old man who remembered young Micah ― Suspicion as Pyrite Rand the old man who also claimed he also killed Larson.
Robert Foulk appeared in five episodes, four times as Toomey ― The Raid as Toomey, the man who wanted to turned back, he didn't want go on to help Lucas find Mark ― The Second Witness as the Toomey, the man who made the coffin for the witness ― Three Legged Terror as Toomey, the man who Johnny Clover was sketching when his uncle came to Lucas' ranch ― Outlaw's Inheritance as Toomey, the man who didn't want Lucas to represent North Fork after finding out out Lucas' inheritance ― The Lost Treasure of Canyon Town as Herbert Newman, the man who was trying to hide the secret of the lost treasure.
*According to the credits in The Three Legged Terror — Toomey is also a Blacksmith — See Arnold Laven's comments on this in The Producer's Corner.
Mickey Finn played James Newman. He's the brother who went crazy in the cavern.
Bloopers - The Lost Treasure of Canyon Town
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
Dark Day at North Fork
Closer than a Brother
around The McCain Ranch