How did Bret get to Echo Springs?
There is no in-episode suggestion in "War of the Silver Kings" as to Bret’s immediate back trail. All we know for sure is that he’d been riding for several days at least, due to his growth of beard and his general trail-weariness as he arrived in Echo Springs.
We do get an interesting insight from Edie Stoller, who mentions that Bret was from Chicago, because she’d seen it printed inside his coat. But we know from many other Saga references that the Maverick Brothers were originally from Texas, so the best Edie’s remark can tell us is that Bret’s coat was from Chicago.
"War of the Silver Kings" seems early in Bret’s career as a wandering gambler, so we might assume that he’d recently left Chicago for the West. His coat, obviously tailored there, along with his concern for its getting ripped (he told Big Mike, “It took me a long time to get a coat like this”), seem to indicate that it was a fairly recent acquisition.
However, at the end of "A Flock of Trouble," which must date historically just before the opening of "War of the Silver Kings," Bret was in Roundup, New Mexico Territory. We imagine Bret may have left that vicinity for Denver (a favorite rendezvous point to reunite with Brother Bart). Along that trail, heading towards mining country, he may have heard of Phineas King's weekly Saturday-night poker game, and changed his course.
Bret arrived in Echo Springs, not on a railroad car in style, but dusty and unkempt from a rugged ride on horseback. Whatever route brought him there, Lady Luck must not have been on the same trail.
Nothing in the story seems to indicate where Echo Springs was located, other that it was not in a state (Richard Bixby travels to the territorial seat, not the state capital, to appeal his case), it was within a carriage ride’s distance from a railroad station, and silver was mined there.
By 1870, no less than five United States territories — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah — had significant silver mining operations. Of these, only Utah Territory had railroad access to its territorial seat.
In 1869, the first locomotive passed through Echo Canyon, a natural pass between the Rockies into Utah Territory and the Great Salt Lake Valley. A town known simply as Echo sprang up at the mouth of Echo Canyon. The foundation's remains of a former Pony Express station, at one time known as Weber or Echo Springs, still stands on the site today.
It is reasonable to imagine that the fictional town of Echo Springs could have been situated here. The site was along a major railroad well-established in 1870, within a day’s trip to the territorial seat by train, remote enough for Bret to have made that week-or-more-long ride, natural springs occur throughout the area, and silver mining was well underway across the territory.
Additionally, as seen in a newspaper advertisement in the story, the headquarters of the New Hope Mining Company was located on Fremont Street. From 1842 to 1846, John C. Frémont and his guide, Kit Carson, led expeditions through the Rockies, across the Great Salt Lake Valley and Great Basin, and over the Sierra Nevadas into California. The name Fremont, therefore, would be consistent with an important street in an early Utah town.
During the course of the story, Bret and Big Mike McComb became fast friends. So much so that at the end of the story, Big Mike asked Bret if he could ride along with him “wherever you’re goin’.” There is no suggestion as to where that may be, other than wherever it is, “something’s bound to be happening.”
If the next time we see Big Mike ("According to Hoyle") is any indication, he will apparently settle for a while in Wagon Wheel, Wyoming Territory. So we may assume the trail out of Echo Springs led Bret and Big Mike eastward along the Union Pacific right-of-way through Echo Canyon, and into Wyoming.
01. Maverick, War of the Silver Kings (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
02. Maverick, A Flock of Trouble (1960), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
03. Bennett, Cynthia Larsen, "Roadside History of Utah" (1999), Mountain Press Publishing Company
04. Fike, Richard E.; Headley, John W., Pony Express Stations of Utah in Historical Perspective, The (1979), Bureau of Land Management, Utah
05. Frémont, Brevet Capt. J. C., The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842 and to Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-‘44 (1845), Blair and Rives, Printers
06. Frémont, Brevet Capt. J. C., The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California (1853), Derby Orton & Mulligan, Derby & Miller
Bret Maverick's trail from
Bret Maverick's trail
with Big Mike McComb
into Wyoming Territory
September 15, 1870 to
Richard Bixby's route
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