The Rifleman
"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"

One Went To Denver
Episode 25

We all have friends in our life. Some are good examples of ourselves; others remind ourselves of what we could have become. I had one of those friends and this is his story.

You see, I had this friend a long time ago. His name was Tom Birch. Well, he was now part of a gang. This ganThe Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25g just happened to be camping outside of town.

One of the members of the gang, Jimmy, had gone into town to check it out since they were planning on robbing the North Fork bank the next day. Well, Jimmy finally rode back into the camp, and Tom and the boys were anxiously awaiting to see what he had found out. "Well how's it look Jimmy Boy?" asked Tom.

"It looks too good to be true," he said. He proceeded to tell them that the bar is across the street from the bank. The hotel is on the other end, maybe a hundred yards on the main street. The bank opens at 8:30 and the bank manager gets there at eight. Tom thought it sounded like a good deal. He told Sammy to go on ahead to the hotel that night.

Well, after giving the orders, Tom started to leave, and Jimmy wanted to know where he was going. “I got a friend in North Fork. Got a present for his kid. I thought I’d drop it off.”

Well, this didn’t make Jimmy too happy. “You must be loco!” Jimmy exclaimed.

“What’s the matter, Jimmy Boy? Never had a friend?” Tom asked him.

"Not one I could trust," he replied.

“Well I got one. Just one,” Tom answered.

While Tom was on his way to my ranch, I was in the kitchen making homemade vanilla ice cream and Mark was at the table reading the Almanac. He was trying to decide rather to plant beans or corn in his garden. The almanac wasn’t helping him much. “It doesn’t favor one or the other. It says whatever you’re hungry for.”
I thought that was a pretty practical book! I told Mark to come give the ice cream churner a turn while I went for more ice. He took his sweet time getting over there. “Of course, if I was to plant beans, I’d have to string them,” Mark thought.

“And if you were to plant corn you’d have to husk it!” I stated then pointed to the ice cream maker.

I went to the porch to chip some more ice when I suddenly heard "Mr. McCain" and then laugh. Surprised by this, I quickly turned around with the ice pick in my hand. "Your reflexes are good as ever!”

I couldn’t believe it! It was him…in the flesh! "Tom?” I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, I rushed out to greet him with a warm handshake. “Tommy!" I said excitedly.  I was certainly glad to see my old friend!

I asked him if he was traveling alone, he replied, "like a newborn pup,” he answered. Neither one of us could remember how many years it had been since we had seen each other!

We went inside. Mark was happy we had company until I introduced them. Suddenly, the big excited smile that was on my boy’s face turned into a disappointed, questionable look. “Don’t you remember, son? I told you all about him.” Mark wasn’t happy he was there. I could tell he didn’t approve of our friendship.  Regardless of his personal thoughts, I still expected him to have manners, so I sternly reminded him to shake hands. He did, but unwillingly. “You’re raising up a gentleman and that’s a fact!” Tom commented. Suddenly, he looked around for Margaret. As always, the mention of my late wife pulled at my heart strings. I sadly asked Mark to get some bowls for the ice cream. Tom could immediately tell from my mood that she was no longer iThe Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25n this world. “Oh, I’m sorry, Luke. I didn’t know.” His voice wais filled with remorse.

“Well, it’s been four years. We’re over it!” I stated. I invited Tom to eat ice cream.

Suddenly, Tom picked up my rifle and asked me if I still used it. I told him only when I had to. “You still any good at it?”

I laughed. It was nice to remember the good ol’ days! “Better than you!” I retort.

Meanwhile, in town, Micah and Eban Tate sat in the hotel lobby engrossed in a checker game. Johnny walked in to sign in for a street side room. After he went upstairs, Micah got up to check the registry. "John Smith, hmmm, no self respectin' criminal gonna sign himself in as John Smith," said Micah.

Tate reminded Micah that the man they were expecting was a master criminal who might figure he felt that way. Micah just let it go by and made a comment about getting on with the game.

Well, Tom and I were taking a trip down memory lane. “Well, we were just riding along, you see. The Indian Chief…um what’s his name?”
“Lion killer.” I laughed.

“Yeah. Lion Killer. Well, he yells at his brave and they get on those little ponies of his and they start off after us –whack – just like that!” Mark wanted to know what happened. “We outran ‘em,” Tom answered.

“All of ‘em?” Mark asked.

“Well, no Mark. Not all of ‘em. We shot a couple dozen, wouldn’t you say, Luke?” I told him it made a better story.

Tom suddenly announced to Mark that he had something for him. He pulled out these moccasins that are obviously way too small for him. Mark was embarrassed that they didn’t fit him. Tom was embarrassed they didn’t fit him. I just felt bad for them both! Tom quickly tried to cover up the awkward scene. “Luke, you remember that hold that Apache Joe taught us?” He wanted to see if he could beat me. I felt uncomfortable acting that way – especially with the boy watching. But I finally gave in.

Mark watched anxiously as we started struggling. We kept our eyes locked on each other. “You better quit, Luke. I’d hate to see you get blood all over this floor!” Tom tried.

“Don’t you worry about it. It’ll wash,” I answered him.

“You better quit, Luke. You haven’t got a prayer!” he tried again.

“Not yet,” I answered him still hanging on.

Suddenly, he asked me if I still had the ticklish spot. The he poked me. I lost.

As I went down, we both started laughing. Tom’s actions anger Mark and he shouted out, “That wasn’t fair!”

His actions did surprise me a bit. I reminded Mark that it was only a game. I could tell his mood wasn’t going to change. I told him to go to bed.

After Mark went to the other room, Tom picked up the moccasins. “Well, it looks like your son doesn’t cottin’ up to me, Luke.” It’s obvious this hurt Tom’s feelings a bit.

I have to be honest with him. “Every school boy’s heard of the Birch gang, Tom. What do you expect?” I went to get some bedding. As I was getting it, Mark said he needed to talk to me.

I sat down next to him. “You aren’t going to ask him to stay, are you, pa?” he asked. I kThe Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25new Mark wasn’t happy about this.

“Tom and I were like brothers a long time ago, Mark. He even saved my life once. I think I told you about that. We were happy go lucky in those days. We did a lot of wild things. Then I met your mother, you came along and…Tom…he went off in another direction. Oh, he’s done a lot of wrong things, son. He knows how I feel about it. Well he came to visit us anyway. Knowing because we were old friends that…well, that it would be all right.”

“If you say so, pa,” Mark commented. I could tell he wasn’t completely convinced yet.

I tried my best to explain it. “Oh Mark, friendships are a very funny thing. I wish I could explain it better.” Mark said he’d try to understand. I patted Mark on the shoulders and told him to get a good nights sleep.

I went out to get Tom settled for the night, but he was gone. I decided to go looking for him. I grabbed my rifle on the way out just in case I met up with trouble. As I walked into the barn, Tom suddenly pulled his gun and turned around. "Hey. Don't you ever do that again," said Tom.

“Is it that bad?” I asked. I thought it was pretty sad to live like that.

“Sometimes,” he answered.

“So, where did you say you’re headed?” I broached the subject. I wanted to make sure North Fork didn’t have a problem.

“You know Tom, North Fork’s kind of a puny town,” I assured him as we walked into the house.

“Oh, that’s interesting. I like puny towns!” Those words scared me a bit. But then he suddenly stated, “Too bad I won’t get to see it!”

I had to trust him.

As I was headed for bed, Tom stopped me. “Luke, would you tell Mark something for me? Will you tell him I haven’t had vanilla ice cream or talked to a kid or sat at a table without my back against a wall since I can’t remember? Will you tell him that?”

Suddenly, I had to know. “Why don’t you give it up, Tom?” I really liked him and I wanted to see him happy. I could tell he wasn’t.

“Oh Luke, you know better then that. I appreciate your hospitality. You’re a lucky man.” That was it. I went to bed.

I had trouble getting to sleep that night. I was worried about exactly what he was planning on doing. The next morning, Mark woke up before me. He saw Tom leave.

I didn’t know it, but Tom wasn’t going to Denver. He went back to the campsite to meet up with his gang. “I hear it’s a puny town,” Tom stated.
“That’s not what the safe says,” Tommy remarked.

Tom thought about it for a minute. Then he states, "Well, lets get acquainted," They head on into North Fork.

While Tom and his gang were riding into town, I was trying to get Mark off to school. After he mounted off, he rode over to where I was working. “Beans,” he stated. “I decided on beans. Tell Hattie I want enough for the whole garden, will you Pa?"

That boy must think I have nothing better to do then run his errands! I told him I had too many chores to do today. I’d have The Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25to do it tomorrow.

Then he apologized for not saying bye to my friend. “It’s a long way to Denver,” I explained.

This surprised Mark. “I saw him riding up the hill towards North Fork!”

Suddenly, my fears were becoming reality! “When?” I asked.

“Just a little after sun up.” I knew I had a big problem on my hands, so I sent Mark on off to school. Then I went to saddle my horse. I had to ride into town and see what kind of problems my friend was stirring up.

Tom and his gang were riding into North Fork, getting set to do the job on the bank. The guy in the hotel was getting his part ready. Tom and some of his gang sat down in the saloon to talk. Tom stated they would go as soon as the bank opened. Naylor walked up to Tom. “The Marshal’s only got one good gun hand,” he announced.

“Which hand?” Tom Asked. Naylor only smiled before walking out the door.

Suddenly, Tom started talking. “You know something, Jimmy? I think I’ll try my hand at ranching one of these days. Get myself a nice place. Some cattle-“ Jimmy suddenly broke in and told him to stop it. “What’s the matter with you?” Tom asked.

“Nothing. I’m not cut like you, that’s all. Talking about ranching at a time like this…”

Jimmy wanted to talk about the money. “Okay, Jimmy boy, where should we bury it this time?” Tom asked as he walked to the window. They watched the clock as they waited. It was 8:10.

I finally got into town and just had this feeling that something was about to happen. I ran into Micah. He said good morning to me, but I was too distracted trying to figure out what was about to go down. Micah informed me that I was acting like I had a bad night’s sleep. “Well, you don’t look so spring morning either, Micah,” I informed him.

“I guess I’m still worried about that gang,” Micah suddenly stated. This took me back a bit. “I got a wire a couple days ago a gang of holdup men might hit us,” Micah informed me. Each word he said made me more suspicious of my friend, Tom. I was beginning to understand why my friend showed up.
My friend was a known bank robber, so I immediately asked about the bank. “I’ve got Evan Tate posted in there. They’ll be dead as soon as they walk in the door, assuming, of course, they’ll be kind enough to identify themselves first,” Micah stated.

It was about 8:30. I didn’t’ have much time. I walked over to the saloon to find my friend. At 8:32, Tommy told Jimmy to signal Tommy. “Wait until you see the smoke, then start in. I’ll be right behind you,” he stated.

The fire in the hotel was started.

I made my way to the saloon doors and saw my friend Tom lighting a cigar. I hurried inside. “Why don’t you go wash the dishes, Sweeny,” I ordered.
Sweeny did as told. I was now alone with my friend Tom. “Good morning. Didn’t you kinda get your directions mixed up?” I greeted my friend. “It seems to me Denver’s in the opposite direction, or didn’t you know?”

“Oh, well next time I’ll get a map,” Tom stated.

“There won’t be a next time, Tom. Sit down,” I orderedThe Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25.

He did. Then I started talking. “I want to find out something right now. Are you here to hit the bank? Because if you are, I’m not going to let you do it. You hurt my town, you hurt me. That’s the way I am. You oughta know that by now. Look, I believed you, Tom. I’m still trying to believe you. Just make it good.” I looked him in the eyes. I knew the truth. I reached out my hand. “Give me your guns,” I said then.

Suddenly, Sweeny came running out from the back to announce that the hotel was on fire. I ran to the window. I could see two men walking into the bank. I asked Tom if they were friends of his. “I’ve got no friends, Luke. Just you,” Tom states. That hurt me.

Suddenly, the two men walk in and announce they were holding up the bank. John Hamilton warned them that there was a rifle aimed at them. “Then You’ll get it first, mister! Now come around here!” Tommy told John. John suddenly ducked out of the way. Bang! Eban shoots his rifle, killing Tommy.
Micah heard the gunshot and rushed out of his office. “Bang!” he killed Naylor.

Eban ran out of the bank and saw Sammy trying to make a get away. “Bang!” He killed Sammy.

Tom and I are the only two left. “Tom, For the last time…give me your guns." I demand him. I don’t want to shoot him!

“I’m gonna walk out of here, Luke. I’m gonna get on my horse and ride out of town,” he states assuredly.

I pointed my rifle at him. “You do and I’ll kill you!” I promise.

But Tom knew me. He knew how much I cared for him regardless of who he had become. So he smiled at me! "You wanna bet?"

“I’m turning you in, Tom!” I stated with confidence.

“All you have to do is let me ride out of town, Luke.” I stand there silently, growing angrier and more hurt with each passing second. He had a mocking sneer on his face the whole time. Then when I thought he could hurt me no more, he states, “You owe it to me, remember?”

“Not anymore,” I stated. It took everything in me to say the next words again. “If you walk thru that door I'll shoot!"

Tom only stated, "I guess you will.” He turned to walk out the door. “Make it good Luke, will ya? Prison isn't for me."

Tom walked out the door. I didn’t shoot.

He got on his horse. I didn’t shoot.

As he started riding out of town, I aimed my rifle at him. I had told myself I would shoot him. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t shoot my friend! This made me mad! I had to stop him without shooting him! So I threw my rifle at him and knocked him flat off his horse!

"What did you hit me with?" Tom asked.

As Tom stood up, Micah walked over to us. “Micah,” I start humbly. “I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.”

This surprised Micah a bit, to say the least. "A friend, of yours?"

"Tom Birch is the name," Tom stated.

Micah replied, "We've been expecting you."

I sadly watch as my friend is The Rifleman - One Went To Denver - Episode 25escorted off to jail. It was humbling for me to see a friend I cared so dearly for end up there.
It was a long, hard day for me. When I got back, Mark was on the porch waiting for me. “I wondered where you were. I figured you’d be out mending fences or something.”

I tiredly tied my horse to the hitching post. “No, I decided to go into town after all,” I stated.
"Did you get my seed?"

That question distressed me. “Oh Mark,” I groaned. “I’m sorry. I forgot!”

Mark knew something had to have happened if I forgot. "Why, what happened, did you see Mr. Birch?"

But I didn’t want to go into it then. I was tired and hungry and just wanted to get supper started.

Mark turned from the door. "What are we having for supper?"

I looked at him and smiled. "Beans.”

Mark laughed as he walked in the door.

piddlin' stuff.....Richard Anderson appeared in six episodes ― One Went to Denver as Tom Birch an old friend of Lucas' ― Lariat as Lariat Jones, an old friend of Lucas', he too was in love with Margaret ― Miss Bertie as Duke Jennings, the cowboy that Miss Bertie had a wanted poster on ― Flowers by the Door as Jason Gowdy, the lady killer ― Millie's Brother as Harry Chase, the man who claimed he was with Millie's Brother when he died ― The Bullet as Griff, the owner of The Lucky Chance Casino in Los Cruces.

Jack Kruschen appeared in four episodes.  Two episodes as Doc Burrage ― Baranca and Trail of Hate.  He appeared in One Went to Denver as Sammy an outlaw that was a member of Tom Birch's gang and The Retired Gun as Clyde Bailey who harassed Wes Carney.
There were two doctors before Doc Burrage although neither of them were ever named or given credit.  Those two episodes were The Sharpshooter and The Marshal.  In End of a Young Gun Lucas told Hank he should go get Doc Sedley?  Doc Burrage was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Pet.
Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage?  Can you name them?

Lewis Charles appeared in three episode ― The Indian as Slade, the man who was responsible for the brutal murder of a rancher and his family ― One Went to Denver as Eban Tate as the cowboy who guarded the safe and in this picture played checkers with Micah ― Skull as Pascal, one of Hoyt Coyle's men.

John Goddard appeared in two episodes ― One Went to Denver as Naylor, he was a member of Tom Birch's gang ― Letter of the Law as Davis, one of Stocker's gang.

Ben Morris as Jimmy Carson. He was a member of Tom Birch's gang.

John Harmon appeared in twelve episodes as Eddie Halstead owner/hotel clerk of the Hotel Madera.  He was first introduced to The Rifleman in Duel of Honor.  

Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon.  Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.

Harlan Warde appeared in eighteen episodes as John Maysfield Hamilton, President of the North Fork Bank.  He was first introduced in The Safe Guard. In this episode North Fork's Bank was first established and John Hamilton was new to North Fork.
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas.
Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.

Jesse Wayne appeared in twenty-three episodes as Johnny Crawford's stuntman.  Not sure who doubled for Johnny in the episode of Requiem at Mission Springs but he is a possibility, especially after that bad tumble Mark took.
*From the book Chuck Connors....."The Man Behind the Rifle" ~ In a 1993 letter to the author, Mr. Anderson recalled working with Chuck Connors and this particular episode: "The best part I had on the show was a gunfighter old friend who came visiting—and we had a good time interacting. Chuck Connors was a friend on the set, a natural personal presence on the screen, and above all―huge energy. He was also bright and knowing and fun."

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