How did Bart get to Capital City?




In early July of 1876, Bart Maverick was hurrying to a big poker game in Denver.[1] Back in May, he had visited Laramie, Wyoming Territory, after the events of "The Jeweled Gun."[2] But by late June, something must have taken him into Nevada,[3] since that is the only region from which he would have been traveling eastward through Grantsville and Salt Lake City on his way to Denver. Out of Nevada, one would think Bart would have preferred taking the Central Pacific Railroad across Utah and Wyoming Territories into Cheyenne, where he would have changed trains on the Denver Pacific Railway to easily reach his destination. But since he was traveling by stage, we should assume he was coming out of eastern Nevada much further south, making railroad travel impractical. He was therefore most likely to have been coming from one of the many mining districts in Nevada's Ruby, Goshoot or Steptoe valleys. From there, he could have taken either Beckwith's railroad survey trail or the Overland Mail Route to the Hastings Cutoff into Grantsville.[3]





Although the U.S. territory in which the events of "The Thirty-Ninth Star" is never mentioned by name, it is most likely Utah Territory. Unlike other territories through which Bart Maverick may have been "just passing through" to reach Denver in the mid-1870s, only Utah was actively bidding for statehood, as depicted in the story. It is also the only such territory with a town known as Grantsville.[3] Judge Somervell's estimation of the territory's population of 100,000 is also consistent with that of Utah Territory in the 1870s.[4]





However he arrived in the vicinity, Bart Maverick would have traveled into Grantsville from the west via the the Hastings Cutoff.[3]





Referred to only as "Capital City" in the episode but after determining the territory to be that of Utah, the territorial seat can only have been Salt Lake City. The distance of only 35 miles from Grantsville makes perfect sense. A stagecoach would have taken about seven hours, which would have been plenty of time during the long mid-summer days of the story. Bart Maverick would have continued out of Grantsville along the Hastings Cutoff to arrive at the Capital City Hotel in the late afternoon.[3]





Known today as the Mormon Trail or the Old Mormon Wagon Road, it was the route blazed by the ill-fated Donner Party and later by the early Mormon settlers through Emigration Canyon east of Salt Lake City.[3] Bart Maverick and Janet Kilmer borrowed Judge Somervell's carriage and chased Bigelow's stagecoach[1] east along the Old Wagon Road and then, before entering Emigration Canyon, south on the Overland stage route.[3] When they caught up to the stage, the driver told them he let Bigelow off in the middle of nowhere back at the Old Wagon Road, from which Bigelow headed north on foot.[1] Even though the Old Wagon Road travels in a general east-west direction, it takes a northwesterly direction into Emigration Canyon and beyond. It could only have been this direction Bigelow could have gone, since the other direction would have backtracked westward from where he had run.[3] Bart and Janet returned[1] northward[3] to the Old Wagon Road and followed Bigelow's tracks[1] northeast into Emigration Canyon.[3]





01. Maverick, The Thirty-Ninth Star (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

03. Resident Population and Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives: Utah; S. Census Bureau (retrieved May 10, 2016)



Bart Maverick's trail

from Salt Lake City to Denver

July 7 – 9, 1876

Bart Maverick's trail

from Nevada to Grantsville

Early July –
July 3, 1876

Bart Maverick's trail

from Grantsville
to Salt Lake City

July 4, 1876

Bart Maverick and Janet Kilmer's trail

following Bigelow from Salt Lake City

July 5, 1876


Maverick and Janet Kilmer's trail

following Bigelow to Gifford

July 5 – 6, 1876

Bart Maverick
and Bigelow's
Gifford to
Salt Lake City

July 6,



Following Bigelow's tracks[1] into Emigration Canyon,[3] Bart Maverick and Janet Kilmer decided to spend the night in an abandoned barn at sunset. The next morning, they continued following Bigelow's tracks into a ghost town in the hills. The name of the ghost town is not mentioned, but is suggested by the sign over the old saloon at the edge of town as Gifford. After finding and questioning Bigelow in an abandoned shop there, Bart discovered Janet had taken the carriage and left him behind. He and Bigelow were forced to travel back[1] to Salt Lake City[3] on foot,[1] a distance of about nine miles.[3]





From Salt Lake City, Bart Maverick would have taken the Utah Central Rail Road north to Ogden, east on the Union Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory and finally on the Denver Pacific Railway[3] to his appointment in Denver, Colorado Territory.[1]

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