A one-time opportunity to view and handle the famous historic Sharps rifle which ended the historic exploits of the McCarty gang in 1893 will take place Saturday, July 9, at the Delta County Museum from 10 a.m. to noon. The 1874 Sharps rifle will be available for close-up viewing and can also be handled by the public. Appropriate protective gloves must be used and will be provided by the museum. An admission fee of $10 will be required for the event. A photographer will be on hand to take photographs, should anyone wish to have a permanent memento of handling the rifle.
The robbery of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Delta took place on Sept. 7, 1893, when brothers Tom and Bill McCarty, along with Bill's son, Fred, encountered the marksmanship of W. Ray Simpson, a hardware merchant who was in his store across Main Street from the bank when he heard two shots inside the bank, one of which killed bank cashier, Andrew Blachly. Simpson, with his single-shot Sharps rifle in hand, ran over to Third Street and was approaching the alley when the three McCarty outlaws galloped past him as they sought to escape toward Second Street through the alley. Tom McCarty was in the lead, followed by Fred and his father, Bill. Simpson's first shot removed the top of Bill's head, and he dropped just behind the present-day museum. Fred made it to the end of the alley when Simpson's second shot hit him in the head, and he died against a fence then at Second Street. Tom McCarty escaped from Delta only to disappear into history. When, where or how he died is a mystery to this day.
This Sharps rifle, along with the pistols carried by Bill and Fred McCarty, are on permanent exhibit at the museum. This is a rare opportunity to see this rifle outside of the exhibit. A book about the bank robbery, "Banks, Bullets and Bodies; a Failed Robbery in Delta, Colorado," by curator Jim Wetzel, will be on sale during the open house.
For more information, call 874-8721.