Even as a small boy growing up in northern Siskiyou County near the town of Ager, Charles Cooley had his own horse.
One day, he and the neighbor’s son, Ted, mounted Cooley’s mare together and without permission headed across the ranch onto the county road and down the old north-south stage road. Cooley let Ted handle the reins even though he was not an experienced rider.
The mare was a small, high-spirited animal, and the boys had a great time riding her as fast as she would go. When a train pulled alongside, Ted didn’t hesitate and pressed the horse into a race with the train, unaware that the track crossed the county road just ahead of them.
Cooley recalled later, in these words, “The train loomed large in front of us and just before we got to it I put my hand around Ted and fell off the horse, pulling Ted with me.” Cooley said they landed only “a short arm’s length from those big, crushing, steel wheels. The little mare stopped with her nose almost touching the side of the cars speeding by.”
It was all just a little too close!
Source: Cooley, Charles J. "A Close Call." Siskiyou Pioneer, The, vol. 5, no. No 8, 1985, p. 53.