On Oct. 26, 1881 at approximately 3 p.m., an event occurred that would be long remembered across the country. Four of the men involved would become infamous and the community to this day is still recognized for this single action that depicted what living in the west was all about.
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It wasn’t the discovery of gold, but silver that founded Tombstone, Ariz. And the famous “Shootout at the OK Corral” provides the historical character of this old western community today.
And though it was the Earp brothers — Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan — that many recall, it was John Henry “Doc” Holliday, dentist turned gambler, turned gunslinger that was at the center of the deadly dispute that left three men dead.
Where historic Tombstone had their “Doc” Holliday — historic Placerville has its very own Davey “Doc” Wiser.
Davey Wiser arrived here in 1977 and immediately got involved with the Highway 50 Association in 1978. He was elected president of the organization in 1987.
“To strive to perpetuate Wagon Train for future generations,” was what Davey was quoted striving for in an article appearing in the Mountain Democrat.
It was during his Wagon Train days that Davey started carrying a doctor’s bag as part of his western attire. His “Doc” image was born.
His real life job was working for the railroad. And though now retired after 50 years, he remains active in the preservation of the oldest rail line west of the Mississippi. Davey is a strong advocate for the El Dorado Western Railroad and was recently instrumental in securing a $5,000 grant from El Dorado County to help towards preserving this historical railroad line.
Of anyone characterizing life in days gone by, “Doc” Wiser is one that actually lives it. For example, Davey and his wife Sherry were married at exactly 3:10 p.m. Those familiar with old western movies will recall “3:10 to Yuma” starring Glen Ford. In the film, Ford is a prisoner in custody heading to the train depot at Contention, Ariz. on his way to the Yuma Territorial Prison — not that this in any way symbolizes what lies ahead for married life.
Just prior to taking my wedding vows, I felt like Gary Cooper in the classic western movie “High Noon,” hands shaking as he writes his last will and testament, the clock ticking the minutes away to an unknown outcome.
Davey was presented with the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce’s Historic Preservation Award last week. It’s a well-earned recognition to our very own “gentleman cowboy” tourist attraction. With horses Beatle Bailey and Jet, “Doc” is regularly on hand transporting tourists and locals back in time to the days of our true historic heritage.
Imagine what life in Placerville would be like without the Wiser Overland Stage Line. It’s a unique tourist attraction that some in the community take for granted. But it sets us apart from other old mining towns struggling to retain their historical link to the past.
Davey and his stagecoach are always available for any number of local events. You’ll see him offering free rides at the annual Christmas tree lighting, participating in the Hangtown Christmas Parade or offering his services for a wedding or two. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and effort to move his rig and team each weekend. Horse owners can relate.
Davey continues to give back to the community we all love and enjoy. And I believe he captures not only the true spirit of the old west but helps us retain our treasured heritage.
Congratulations go out to Davey “Doc” Wiser. No, he’s not recognized nationally like the gunslinger icon “Doc” Holliday shooting his way into history books, but he is recognized and greatly appreciated here in Placerville doing his part to preserve our history.
Richard Esposito is publisher of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Wednesday.