Tag Archives: #Colorado

Raiders of Spanish Peaks, 1931

“Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” first saw light of day in December 1931 as a serial in the recently established magazine “Country Gentleman”. It ran as a six-part story until May 1932. Then, in 1938 it was published by Harper & Bros. Later it reappeared in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine 4(5) in 1950 and as a Dell picturized edition called “The Rustlers” in 1954.

Zane Grey always has a theme for his historical romances. He tries to keep them true to the times, using historical people and places to emphasize his messages. Charles “Buffalo” Jones conveys the importance of understanding stories from its time and place in history. He also tries to convey the idea that all stories have two sides to them. “Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” is set to the 1880s in Kansas and Colorado. At that time Comanchee, Ute, Kiowa and Arapaho tribes were still being removed from lands wanted by cattle ranchers into reservations. Jones refers to one of the darkest times in the history in the US, a time described well in Zane Grey’s “The Thundering Herd“.

Character-wise Grey likes to use men and women (often tenderfeet) who grow into his ideal westerner (see “Code of the West“). “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” is no different in that regard. There are two main characters (Laramie Nelson and Harriet Lindsay) and two secondary characters (Lonesome Mulhall and Lenta Lindsay). Other semi-important ones are Ted Williams, Florence Lindsay, Neale Lindsay, Lester Allen, Luke Arlidge and Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay. “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” starts with Laramie Nelson’s story.

LARAMIE’S horse went lame, and as Wingfoot was the only living creature he had to care for, he halted at midday, without thought of his own needs.

After one too many gun-plays Laramie felt the need to leave a certain Kansas Ranch behind (along with Luke Arlidge). He is a 25-year old Texan gun-slinger and grubrider (a cowhand riding from ranch to ranch finding whatever work was available). With him went his horse, saddle and tack, wool-blanket, canteen, gun and saddlebag. He and Wingfoot found themselves in an idyllic valley in southern central Kansas. He woke to the sound of men up to no good.

“Thet’s my answer, Mulhall,” replied Price, curtly. “I’ll tell somebody yu took yore medicine yellow.”

“——!” burst out the bound rider, furiously. “I knowed it. Yu’re hangin’ me ’cause she has no use fer yu. . . . Go ahead an’ string me up yu ——! . . . She’ll be onto yu. Hank or Bill will give yu away some day. An’ she’ll hate yu——”

“Shet up,” snapped Price, jerking the lasso so tight round Mulhall’s neck as to cut short his speech and sway him in the saddle.

Which is how Laramie and “Lonesome” Mulhall come to ride together. Lonesome has two weaknesses that keep on getting him into trouble. The first he shares with Zane Grey (according to his biographies), women. Lonesome (16) loves them and they love him right back. The second is the itch to acquire whatever is not tied down. Laramie is lonely, and has hopes of Lonesome growing up, so he invites Lonesome along.

They ride into a newish Dodge City to stock up on hardtack, they run into the final member of their threesome: Ted “Track” Williams (19). He is stuck in jail and wants the two to spring him.

“Sheriff and his deputies made a raid to lock up a lot of newcomers. And I happened to be one.”

Times being what they were, Lonesome and Laramie decide to go fulfill his request, and that night the threesome becomes “The Three Range Riders”.

“Laramie’s fame with a gun, Williams’ as a tracker, Lonesome’s irresistible attraction and weakness for women, preceded them in many instances, and in all soon discovered them.”

The three of them could not be parted. If one was hired, all had to be hired. If one was let go, the other two left as well. Jobs weren’t easy to come but Laramie kept the two others in line as much as possible.

… the frontier was changing from the bloody Indian wars and buffalo massacres a few years back to the cattle regime and the development of the rustler. For young men the life grew harder, for not only did the peril to existence increase, but also the peril of moral ruin. The gambler, the prostitute, the rustler, the desperado, the notoriety-seeking, as well as the real gunman, followed hard on the advent of the stock-raising.

Laramie prayed for a miracle. The Three Range Riders decide to give the straight and narrow one more try and come to Garden city. Once the pesky tribes had been driven off, the Fulton brothers laid claim to large sections of the townsite. It is here that Laramie finds a solution to their needs.

Laramie strode on until he came to a pretentious hotel, and was entering the lobby, followed by his reluctant and grumbling partners, when suddenly he was halted by a man.

“Look out, Lonesome! Duck!” called Tracks, who was ahead.

But the Westerner with the broad-brimmed sombrero let out a whoop.

Laramie! . . . By the Lord Harry, where’d you come from?”

Quick as a flash Laramie recognized the lean, lined, tanned face with its gray eyes of piercing quality.

“Buffalo Jones or I’m a daid sinner! I shore am glad to meet yu heah.”

The story then changes POV to the Lindsay family. John Lindsay is an “iron-gray-haired man of fifty years, and of fine appearance except for an extreme pallor which indicated a tubercular condition”. He had left Upper Sandusky, OH, with his family to find himself a better climate. His family insisted they go with him  so Lindsay sold everything they had. We first meet the family in Garden City at the Elk Hotel. Mrs. NN Lindsay is an anxious person who likes to entertain. His oldest daughter is Harriet “Hallie/Hal” (25), his accountant, financial advisor and money handler and “the sanity and strength of this family“. Florence (19) is the beauty of the family and concerned with beautiful things. Neale (18) is the only boy and his mother’s favourite. Lenta (16) is the most spirited and adventuresome of the four.

John Lindsay bought Spanish Peaks Ranch (“…an old fort. Built by trappers who traded with the Utes an’ Kiowas. There’s a fine spring comes right up inside the patio an’ some big cottonwoods…“) along with 10000 heads of cattle from Lester Allen. Allen told them he would  leave a crew led by his foreman, Luke Arlidge. Harriet was not impressed with either of them. All of them were, however, impressed with the man their father brought the next day. Charles “Buffalo” Jones brought with him stories about his life and warnings about what might be waiting considering the reputation of Allen and Arlidge. A few of days later he introduced Lindsay to The Three Range Riders, who agreed to be hired by him.

The rest of “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” continues to change between Laramie and Harriet’s experiences as they travel to the ranch, what they discover when they get there, and the tough and rewarding life waiting for them all. Some parts are really funny, some are tense, some are romantic (in the Jane Austen sense). As with all of his stories, nature also is also a character in “Raiders of Spanish Peaks“.

Gray-sloped, twin-peaked, snow-capped mountains apparently loomed right over her. These must be the Spanish Peaks from which the ranch derived its name. They were her first sight of high mountains and the effect seemed stunning. But they were only a beginning. Beyond rose a wall of black and white which she had imagined was cloud. Suddenly she realized that she was gazing at the magnificent eastern front of the Rocky Mountains. Pure and white, remote and insurmountable, rose the glistening peaks high into the blue sky, and then extended, like the teeth of a saw, beyond her range of vision.

Harriet stared. Greater than amaze and ecstasy something had birth in her. The thing she had waited for all her life seemed to be coming—the awakening of a deeper elementary self. A vague, sweet, intangible feeling of familiarity smote her. But where and when could she ever have seen such a glorious spectacle? Perhaps pictures haunted her. This scene, however, was vivid, real, marvelous, elevating. Lonely and wild and grand—this Colorado!

I think Zane Grey probably had fun with Mulhall’s character. There is a couple of conversations between Laramie and Lonesome about women that may have shocked some readers. His fans were mainly Euro-Americans. That may also be true of most of today’s fans. I would guess that today’s target groups for Zane Grey, and “Raiders of Spanish Peaks“, consist of Western fans and fans of US historical authors.

Free read at Roy Glashan’s library


  • Audiobook narrated by John McLain
  • Croatian. Jahači španjolskih planina. Translated by Boris Gerechtshammer. Rijeka: Otokar Keršovani, 1963.
  • Czech. Pistolníci ze Španělských hor. Translated by Josef Vorel. V Praze: Novina, 1939.
  • Finnish. Yöllinen hyökkäys. Kymmenen markan romaaneja 161. Translated by Tauno Nuotio. WSOY, 1939.
  • German. Die Unzertrennlichen. Translated by Dr. Franz Eckstein. Berlin: Verlag Th. Knaur Nachf., 1939.
  • Norwegian. Oppgjørets time. Translated by Ulf Gleditch. Oslo: Egmont Forlag, 1989
  • Portugese. Três cavaleiros da planície. Translated by Raúl Correia. Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, [19-?]
  • Spanish. Los incursores de la pradera. Translated by . México, D.F., Editorial Diana, 1967.
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Posted by on 2018-06-14 in Books


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The Mysterious Rider (1919)

Credit: Daniel McVey

Credit: Daniel McVey


The Country Gentleman, June 7 – August 23 1919
Harper & Brothers, New York, November 1920
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, January 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) May 1949, Oct 1960 (Galactic Central)

According to Charles G. Pfeiffer part of The Mysterious Rider is supposed to be based on a true story, but Pfeiffer does not reveal which part.

I understand the desire parents have to see only the good in their children, or to see them as salvageable if their children are flawed. Sometimes these parents are overly optimistic about the potential for reform. Rancher Bill Belllounds is one such parent. Bill’s son Jack is known as a drunkard, gambler, coward and thief. In other words, not a person I would want any of my children to get involved with.

jack belllounds you put the sheriff

“Jack Belllounds!” she cried. “You put the sheriff on that trail!”
From “The Mysterious Rider”

Bill Belllounds himself is a pretty decent guy when he does not have to make decisions regarding Jack.

“Columbine!… So they named me–those miners who found me–a baby–lost in the woods–asleep among the columbines.” She spoke aloud, as if the sound of her voice might convince her.

So much of the mystery of her had been revealed that day by the man she had always called father. Vaguely she had always been conscious of some mystery, something strange about her childhood, some relation never explained.

Poor Columbine. She had been found wandering Middle Park (now Grand County) in Colorado in the late 1800’s (before 1874 when its name was changed to Grand County). Belllounds had taken her in and raised her as his own daughter. Columbine is seen by Bill Belllounds as the salvation for his son Jack. Bill wants her to marry Jack. Columbine had not seen Jack for seven years and had until the day Bill asked her to marry Jack not even known that she was not Bill’s daughter. Asking is to kind a term. Bill said that Columbine was going to marry Jack like it or not.

Gunman's Law by Stewart Wieck

Gunman’s Law by Stewart Wieck

A stranger turns up in town in response to Bill’s offer of employment. We now get to the meet the mysterious rider. Bent Wade is a gun fighter who has obviously won his gun battles thus far. He sees his mission in life to help people. Generally this happens at gun point and usually the baddies are the ones to suffer. This time Wade takes it upon himself to protect Columbine from Jack, and Jack’s mean plans, for a very good reason.

He sighed, and a darker shadow, not from flickering fire, overspread his cadaverous face. Eighteen years ago he had driven the woman he loved away from him, out into the world with her baby girl. Never had he rested beside a camp-fire that that old agony did not recur! Jealous fool! Too late he had discovered his fatal blunder; and then had begun a search over Colorado, ending not a hundred miles across the wild mountains from where he brooded that lonely hour–a search ended by news of the massacre of a wagon-train by Indians.

That was Bent Wade’s secret.

And no earthly sufferings could have been crueler than his agony and remorse, as through the long years he wandered on and on. The very good that he tried to do seemed to foment evil. The wisdom that grew out of his suffering opened pitfalls for his wandering feet. The wildness of men and the passion of women somehow waited with incredible fatality for that hour when chance led him into their lives. He had toiled, he had given, he had fought, he had sacrificed, he had killed, he had endured for the human nature which in his savage youth he had betrayed. Yet out of his supreme and endless striving to undo, to make reparation, to give his life, to find God, had come, it seemed to Wade in his abasement, only a driving torment.

But though his thought and emotion fluctuated, varying, wandering, his memory held a fixed and changeless picture of a woman, fair and sweet, with eyes of nameless blue, and face as white as a flower.

“Baby would have been–let’s see–‘most nineteen years old now–if she’d lived,” he said. “A big girl, I reckon, like her mother…. Strange how, as I grow older, I remember better!”


The Mysterious Rider on Free Read Australia







  • 1922: Salaperäinen ratsastaja (Finnish)
  • 1969: Den mystiske rytter (Norwegian)
  • 1953: Der geheimnisvolle Reiter (German)


Grand County, Colorado History

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Posted by on 2014-06-17 in Books


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Arizona Ames (1932)

Credit: Edward S. Curtis, Early 1900s; National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Essential plant for the survival of the Mescalero Apache People

Harvesting mescal agave plant for food; Credit: Edward S. Curtis, Early 1900s;
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution;
Essential plant for the survival of the Mescalero Apache People

McCall’s Magazine, October 1929 – January 1930
Harper and Brothers, New York 1932
Grit Magazine 13 December 1936 – 3 January 1937
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Dec 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jul 1956, Jul 1960 (Galactic Central)

Just as the mescal agave kept some people alive, others found it incredibly dangerous:

“Like the thorns of the cholla cactus, these mescal points broke off in flesh and worked in. Mescal, both in its deadly thorns and the liquor distilled from its heart, typified the hard and acrid nature of the Tonto.”

According to some of the blurbs on the net:

“Arizona (Rich) Ames has been called the most lovable gunslinger of Zane Grey’s writing career.”

Western Ranch House Credit: Old Pictures

Western Ranch House
Credit: Old Pictures

Yet this lovable gunslinger has a temperament that is likely to get him into serious trouble if he begins to hate a person. One family he despises is the Tate family. Rumor has it that the Tate’s were responsible for his father’s death. There is no proof, yet Rich has allowed this suspicion to fester and take over some of his self-control.

His twin-sister Nesta becomes involved with one of the sons of the Tate family, Lee Tate. Lee is a right bastard and rapes Nesta. Getting her on her own was a simple matter. All he had to do was enlist the help of one of his exes who happened to have it in for a girl who was prettier than herself. Nesta finds herself unable to extricate herself from the situation and inevitable ends up pregnant. Rich and her fiancee discover the truth when Nesta tries to kill herself – wanting to spare her family the shame of her unmarried pregnancy and unwilling to trick her fiancee.

Zane Grey shines a light on two huge problems in his society through Nesta: Unwanted pregnancies and rape. A woman was very much reliant on men for her place in society – even in the Wild West. Perhaps especially in the Wild West. There, as so many other places and times, men were permitted behavior women were not even supposed to know about. If it came out that Tate had fathered a child upon Nesta, she would have been the one to bear the blame no matter that he had forced himself upon her. She and the child would have had to bear shame for the child’s existence. So I can understand (kind of) that Nesta’s mother would be willing to trick Nesta’s fiancee into thinking that the child was his by getting the two of them married in a hurry.

Cappy Tanner, a good friend of the family and reserve-father for the children (Mr. Ames is dead), sees the potential for trouble brewing and is very worried – rightly so.

Arizona Ames on Open Library




  • Finnish: Arizona Ames; Translated by Don Engström; Helsinki, Taikajousi, 1983
  • German: Der Löwe von Arizona; Translated by ; , 1956
  • Italian: Arizona Ames; Translated by Agnese Silvestri Giorgi; Milano, Sonzogno, 1958
  • Norwegian: Rettferdighetens rytter; Translated by ; 1969



Posted by on 2014-06-04 in Books


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