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Profiles in Mojave Desert History

Tiburcio Vasquez

(1835 - 1875)

Tiburcio Vasquez - Bandit, gentleman robber In the mid 1800's a Robin Hood bandit named Tiburcio Vasquez and his gang used the caves and rocks in the formation now named after him, as a hideaway from sheriff's posses and vigilantes who were always on his trail. The desperadoes would rustle cattle, rob stagecoaches, steal cattle and the like, then lose the posses in the intricate maze. The rocks served him well. Eventually, rather than being discovered in hiding, his weakness for women would do him in. Vasquez had an affair with the wife of one of his lieutenants. The angry husband had shot Vasquez and fled the area to inform the sheriff of the hideout. Returning with two posses there was a shootout at the tallest rock. Searching the captured and killed, it was discovered that Vasquez was not among them. But the wounded Vasquez without his hideout couldn't escape for long. He was found in a shack in Cahenga Pass, taken to San Jose where in March of 1875 he stood trial and was hanged.

The Highwayman

Robber's Roost at dawn - Freeman Junction near Ridgecrest, California
Robber's Roost, Freeman Junction - Ridgecrest, California

The banditos would hide their horses in the clefts in the formation, climb to the top, and keep a lookout- They could see for 20 miles in each direction. The stage would approach, and they would move dustlessly into a deep and shadowy arroyo, then lie in wait.

Vasquez, the ‘Gentleman’, would politely rob them all. But one man refused to give up his watch, a gift from his since departed wife. Vasquez left him with his watch, a gold piece, and his condolence. Once a rich man carried only $200 for him to steal. Vasquez sternly warned him to bring him more next time or he would be a dead rich man.

Tiburcio Vasquez, the last ‘Californio’, was eventually hanged for a murder he claimed he did not commit. He died a young man, but the legend of the Robber’s Roost remains.

Vasquez Rocks

Elizabeth Lake

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - glossary - comments
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