How did Bret Maverick
get to Silver Springs?
Bret Maverick had been traveling with Jenny Hill across Missouri through the first half of June of 1878. Within a few weeks, he would find himself in southwestern New Mexico, heading for the south-central region of the territory. Why?
Since we know that Bret never traveled "anywhere without a reason," we may assume a big poker game, probably in southern Arizona Territory, had drawn him so quickly. Or perhaps he was continuing his search across the Southwest to find the elusive Poker Alice.
It probably was not his closest friend, Big Mike McComb. Mike had just spent the last several weeks in a Missouri jail and on trial for the murder of three men in a stage hold-up. Fortunately, with Bret's help, he was acquitted. But if Mike had told Bret of the Square Deal while the two were still in Missouri, Bret would probaby arrived at Silver Springs from the northeast, rather than by way of Clayville in the southwest.
It was more likely that his old friend, Mandy Packer, was the source. Miss Packer owned and operated the Red Ox Saloon in Sweetwater, Arizona Territory, and often held big poker games that drew high-rollers from hundreds of miles away. Such a contest would have easily enticed Bret to travel so far so quickly, and placed him shortly afterwards on a trail to the southwest of Silver Springs.
It was in Clayville where Bret Maverick bought Fatima from Mr. Brimmer during a poker game on his way to Silver Springs. Brimmer introduced him to Fatima next door to the Hatchet Valley Mining Company in Clayville.
The name of the mining company is a clue to the town's location, which could have been an English translation of the actual Hachita (Little Hatchet) Valley in southwest New Mexico Territory.
In 1877, the Eureka Mining District was established there, and a town such as Clayville could well have prospered in its early days.
All we know of the site of Silver Springs is that it was two or three days' ride from Clayville, and ten miles from a vast, unfriendly desert. With Clayville as our starting point, there is only one reasonable possibility:
Silver Springs Creek runs through the heart of the Sacramento Mountains. Many place names in the area are various incarnations of Silver Springs, and could easily be placed about ten miles above and east of the Chihuahuan Desert. The desert's average precipitation in late June and early July is just less than an inch of rain, and the temperatures average in the low to mid-90s. Creeks and streams flow out of the Sacramentos toward the desert, but quickly dry out, or are absorbed by the alkaline flats to the west of the mountains. What little water there is to find in the desert is often brackish and unfit to drink. This is an appropriate setting for the story's Silver Springs and it's neighboring desert.
TO WHO KNOWS WHERE
01. Maverick, The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill (1959), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
03. Maverick, Relic of Fort Tejon (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
04. Bret Maverick, The Lazy Ace (1981), Warner Bros. Television, Inc.
05. (Old) Hachita, New Mexico, Ghosts of the Southline (retreived March 1, 2015)
06. Roadside Geology of New Mexico (October 1, 1987), Halka Chronic, Mountain Press Publishing Company
07. Maverick, Rope of Cards (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
08. Maverick, The Quick and the Dead (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
09. The Last Camel Charge (April 3, 2012), Forrest Bryant Johnson, Berkley Hardcover
10. The Mythical Fort Tejon "Camel Corps"; George Stammerjohn: Fort Tejon Historical Association (retreived March 1, 2015)
11. Clovis, California (August 2, 2012); Johnathan Black, Earth Eyes Travel Guides
12. The Clovis, New Mexico Story (1966); F. Stanley, Stanley
13. Maverick, Relic of Fort Tejon (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
trail from Sweetwater, Arizona Territory
to Clayville, New Mexico Territory
July 8, 1878
Bret Maverick’s trail
to Silver Springs,
New Mexico Territory
July 10 – 14, 1878
Bret Maverick’s trail from
New Mexico Territory to Texas
July 23, 1878
Bret Maverick’s trail
chasing Carl Jimson
through the desert
July 22 – 23,
Other locations mentioned
FORT TEJON. Although referenced by the episode's title, Fort Tejon itself is never mentioned directly in the context of the story. However Fatima, one of the last "full-blooded Arabian mounts" brought over by the Army, is a direct reference to the experimental "Camel Corps" in the years preceding the Civil War. California's Fort Tejon did, in fact, figure famously in the history of the Army's enterprise, although much of what is believed today of the fort's camel operations is largely myth.
CLOVIS. Bret Maverick told Carl Jimson that he and Donna Seely met in Clovis, and Donna explained later that it was "a long time ago." There are limited possibilities in the West for a town named Clovis:
• Clovis, California. Just six miles northeast of Fresno, it is well off Bret's known paths of travel. But more than that, it was not established until 1891, and then only as a train station. The railroad itself was not in operation until 1892. It was not until 1894 that the town began to grow at all. Only by 1896 was Clovis, California large enough to have enticed Bret to hang his hat long enough to establish a relationship and enduring friendship with Donna. If that was "a long time ago" in regards to the events of "Relic of Fort Tejon," the story would not likely be set any time before 1899 or 1900, much too late in the Maverick Saga. Bret would have been nearly 60 years old, and poor Fatima, even as "one of the last the Army brought over," would have been a very old camel.
• Clovis, New Mexico Territory. This is undoubtedly the town most often considered to be Clovis referenced in the script. But it did not exist before 1906, when the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad entered the region. Even then, it was known as Riley's Switch, and was not known as Clovis until some time later. "A long time" later would place the episode close to the year of 1910, much too late for the Saga, and much too late for Fatima to still be following Bret along any trail to Who-Knows-Where.
• Clovis, Arizona Territory. Other than those described above, there have been no other towns named Clovis in the American West. However, since all the other towns mentioned in "Relic of Fort Tejon" are fictional, it is reasonable to assume that its Clovis, too, is fictional. We are comfortable, then, in establishing Clovis, Arizona Territory as a fictional compromise between the two actual Clovi, with it's own history and location. Setting it geographically midway between its two namesakes seems appropriate.
CROWN CITY. A town within riding distance of Silver Springs, but apparently across miles and miles of desert. Fifty-five miles southwest of the Sacramentos and Henderson's Well, across the eastern finger of the Chihuahuan Desert and its alkali flats is San Augustin Pass. The surrounding mountains feed San Augustin Springs and could have provided the water necessary to sustain a small town, and is a likely location for the story's Crown City.
DENTON. A town situated on the Rio Grande just south of Las Cruces, 75 miles southwest of Silver Springs, could have provided the location for Denton, the Dell adaptation's alternative to Crown City.
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