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Lynching of Henry Moorman

Hanging Tree

Durango in 1880, at the corner of today's 9th and Main, facing west. Tall tree left of center is said to be the "hanging tree." Catalog number: 13.01.21

  • April 1881: Henry Moorman, a stagecoach driver and friend of Dyson Eskridge, got drunk. He walked into the Coliseum, an infamous dance hall, and just started shooting.
  • At random, Moorman hit James Prindle, a local miner, and killed him. Moorman tried to run but didn’t get far, as his footsteps were easy to trace in the snow.
  • Moorman was put into the log jailhouse, but local sentiments were not in his favor.
  • That same night, the Committee of Safety, a self-appointed group of 300 masked citizens, broke Moorman out of the jail and hung him on the pine tree in front of the post office, now near the Toh-Atin Gallery on 9th Street.
  • His body was left overnight as a warning to other “scofflaws” that disorderly behavior would not be condoned.
  • Both Moorman and Prindle are believed to be buried in the Animas City Cemetery.

To learn more about Durango's colorful history, visit our exhibit Law and Disorder at the Museum.

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