MEEKER I One of Meeker’s claims to fame was the dramatic attempted robbery of the Bank of Meeker on Oct. 13, 1896.
As people have retold the event, there were a few hectic moments where bullets flew and danger was lurking. But when the crisis was over, three “wanna be” bank robbers were dead.
Northwest Colorado Heritage relayed the incident this way:
“As the story goes, Jim Shirley and his gang tried to follow in the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and thought they could easily pull off this banking heist. But Shirley underestimated the quick draw citizens of Meeker as they quickly killed the thieves after just a few short minutes of a rowdy bullet exchange.
“News spread quickly throughout the nation of the adeptness of these frontiersmen, and the message was heard loud and clear to bandits far and wide: ‘Don’t Mess with Meeker.’”
The Rio Blanco County Historical Society re-enacts the historic event right on the original location of Sixth and Main streets every year during the Range Call Celebration, where the scene unfolds much as it did the day Jim Shirley and his gang went down in local history. Some of the participants are direct descendants of those original frontier men who stood up in defense of their town more than a century ago.
This year’s re-enactment will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 4, in downtown Meeker.