Truckee’s Railroad Regulators to bring past to life
In celebration of town history, a group of Truckee locals called the Railroad Regulators 601 are preparing to entertain the crowd at the 3rd Annual Railroad Days this weekend by reenacting events from the Wild West.
The theatrical group, comprised of professional stunt men and local volunteers, will perform from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9 and 10 along Commercial Row and at the train station on Donner Pass Road.
With the help of Truckee historian Guy Coates the Regulators hope to bring vigilante James Reed and Truckee Constable Jacob Teeter back to life for a gunfight based on an 1891 shooting.
“There will be explosions, gunfights and comedy; the only thing I can say is be prepared. We are planning to get the audience involved,” said Dennis Cook, leader of the Regulators.
A 22-year Truckee resident, Cook came up with the idea for a local Western reenactment group after talking with professional stunt men who were performing in Railroad Days in 1999.
“I was doing security and parking at the time, and felt I could be doing more,” Cook said. “I was a Western fan as a kid, and decided I wanted to get involved doing what I always enjoyed watching.”
Teeter, the Constable for 20 years during the 1870s and 1880s, died in a gunfight with Reed in November, 1891.
“They were both lawmen in Truckee,” Coates said. “Teeter was a straight and narrow lawman – by the book. He believed if you committed a crime you should be tried by a court of law. Reed was a member of the 601, a vigilante group that believed in bringing justice through tar and feathering. There may have even been a few lynchings,” he said.
Reed would take prisoners from jail to Hooligan Rocks, in what is now the Gateway Center, where they would conduct their interpretation of justice, Coates said.
“The two alternated as Constable for the town. They were both proficient lawmen. But over time Teeter got tired of Reed and the 601 stealing prisoners out of jail. Teeter also didn’t approve of Reed trying to drive the Chinese out of town,” Coates said.
Capitol Saloon, where Sierra Shirts is now, was the scene of the crime. At the saloon the two men got in an argument and a gunfight ensued.
“The Truckee Republican reported that James Reed outgunned him,” Coates said. “But historians believe Teeter was assassinated. There was more than one gunman.”
Instead of reconstructing the saloon, the Regulators built a jail, which recently received accolades in the Fourth of July parade.
The jail is made from 80-year old wood donated by Bruce Lecuyer, and stands 12-feet long by 5-feet wide. In addition to the jail the Regulators have collected props such as barrels, posters and whisky bottles filled with iced tea.
“This is going to be very educational for kids and families,” Cook said. “During the show we will talk about the dangers involved and tell kids not to play with guns.”
For more information about volunteering or becoming a regulator call Dennis Cook at 587-7662.
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