Early one summer morning, 14-year-old Vivian Thompson rode out of Taos, New Mexico Territory, on her way to Cimarron. Following the stage road east up Taos Canyon, would take several hours getting to the top of the summit, 9,100 feet high Palo Flechado Pass.
The road ran along the north side of a meandering creek. Farther up it switched back left then right, growing steeper and steeper. Once up top there was a pull out clear spot where the stage stopped to rest horses. She stopped and looked down the east side of the mountain. Miles below she could see the Moreno Valley.
Just as she started to ride on, she heard a pistol shot then a rifle fired echoing loud and long. A short second later the pistol fired again. She looked down a canyon leading east by southeast and saw chimney smoke coming from a small log cabin.
"Horse, that sounds as if someone is in trouble. We'd better check that out." She reached down and removed the thong from the hammer of her 45, then without looking reached and touched the stock of her 44 40.