December 26, 2019
By Bill Pumford, Image from the Linda and Richard Guill Collection
HIGH MOUNTAIN GUNFIGHTERS: This week’s image is a photo of the High Mountain Gunfighters from the 1990’s. This group of men and women were formed in Crestline in the late 1970’s and performed throughout Southern California. This was a historical organization whose skits and performances were based upon historical events. Outfits used in their shows were authentic from the period 1870s to 1890s and were sometimes reconstructed from old photos including buttons and style. In addition to the costumes, rifles and handguns were either original or reproductions for the same period. A replica of the .45 Colt Peacemaker and an original .44 caliber Smith and Wesson were both used. Maintaining historical perspective during performances was very important and to that end the High Mountain Gunfighters often brought their own western village sets on the road. The mini-town was made up of Silver Kate’s saloon, a jail, and a general store. The general store could also be converted into a bank, a Wells Fargo office, or an undertaker’s parlor. According to Richard and Linda Guill, longtime members, everyone associated with the High Mountain Gunfighters was passionate about what they did and devoted a great deal of time and money to ensure that the performances were of the highest quality. One of the more memorable performances was at the Treehouse in Devore, a nudist colony. Extra concentration was required by performers and judges. The High Mountain Gunfighters performed at fairs such as Crestline Jam Days and Green Valley Lake Mountain Top Country Festival, and in fundraisers for charitable groups such as the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation Benefit. They also performed for the children at Santa’s Village. The Gunfighters competed in the National Gunfight and Stunt Championships where performances were evaluated on safety, historical accuracy, and crowd appreciation. By 2001 the High Mountain Gunfighters had retired although the members remain close friends to this day.