The half-million in gold was carefully sewn into small canvas bags and then put inside iron-bound wooden boxes placed all around the stagecoach to balance out its heavy load.
A large group of curious on-lookers turned out early the next morning to see the stagecoach off. Montgomery had two armed guards riding the stagecoach.
Montgomery drove his team of horses at full speed most of the day and into the night, stopping four or five times along the way to water or change horses and to let his passengers eat and freshen up before continuing on the long journey. It was night by the time they reached Umpqua Falls and about 15 minutes away from Mountain Home Station when Montgomery and his armed guards were startled by a loud boom and a bright flash of light. The veteran stagecoach driver knew in an instant it was dynamite.
The team of horses panicked. Montgomery dropped the lines, whipped out his knife and cut his seatbelt, then jumped to safety as rocks began raining down on the stagecoach. The guard riding shotgun next to him couldn't undo his seatbelt and was crushed to death by falling rocks. The second guard, however, managed to get free and jumped off the coach. He ran several miles before collapsing of exhaustion.
The guard later regained his strength, just in time to see a team of 21 mules and two riders heading down the mountain road toward the demolished stagecoach. He saw the mule team return about a half hour later carrying bags filled with gold from the coach and guarded by six horsemen. The guard then ran to the stagecoach and found several passengers trapped and screaming for help. The guard told them he would run to the nearest stage line station to get help.
When he arrived, the guard found Jack Montgomery writhing in pain on a bed. Montgomery would say later that he tumbled down a hill after jumping from the stagecoach. When he looked back up the hill, he saw four men trying to get gold out of the coach. Montgomery said he fired several shots at the men and they fired several back at him. One of the robbers sneaked up behind Montgomery with a hatchet and ripped a large gash in the stagecoach driver's stomach.
In spite of the agonizing pain, Montgomery continued wrestling with the robber until he discovered -- to his own amazement -- that he still had a lighted
cigar clenched tightly between his teeth. He stuffed the cigar into the robber's eye, picked up the hatchet the robber had dropped and beat his attacker over the head several times.
Montgomery staggered several miles to the stage line station before collapsing on the floor.
After he healed, Montgomery met with local vigilantes in hopes they could come up with some clues about the gold heist and eventually capture the robbers.
But a team of vigilantes learned that four members of the outlaw gang were holed up in a cave in the Siskiyou Mountains. They captured the four men and found several bags of gold stashed in the cave. The four denied any knowledge of the robbery, claiming they found the gold when they ducked into the cave to get out of the rain.
Nevertheless, all four men were judged guilty by the vigilantes who immediately hanged them from the nearest trees.
Montgomery continued to drive stagecoaches several years after the near-fatal attack until the railroad replaced his stage lines run. He owned a Jackson County homestead and later owned and operated a general store. In 1910, Montgomery died in Eagle Point, Ore., at the age of 79.
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