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Southwest Life Health And the West is History Community Travel

And the West is History: Downtown Saloon Scene – Ca. 1905

Unfortunately, this photograph of a Durango bar did not include the name of the saloon or the exact date. One of the men in the picture is identified, however. The man on the left, with a mustache, standing with his back to the wall next to a roulette wheel was Deputy Durango Marshal Jesse Stansel. He was involved in one of the most infamous shootouts in Durango. In January 1906, he and county sheriff William Thompson exchanged heated words outside the El Moro Saloon one morning. Soon, the words turned to action and both men drew their guns and emptied them at the other lawman. Thompson died shortly after. Stansel was critically wounded but survived. Thompson had removed a roulette wheel from the business the night before and was angry that Stansel was doing nothing to curb illegal gambling in the town. Stansel was eventually acquitted of the killing. Does this photo show the El Moro? Is the roulette wheel pictured with Stansel the one in question? It’s possible. Maybe future research will tell. Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org (Courtesy of La Plata County Historical Society)