Chris Evans vs. the Southern Pacific

He’s not well known today, but a century ago this unpredictable train robber and killer was sensational front-page news in California

Everyone knows about Black Bart, the Daltons and Jesse James, but a century after his exploits created a sensation throughout the West, the most intriguing outlaw of his time remains a mystery. Chris Evans clattered across California's San Joaquin Valley in the early 1890s as a train robber and killer, and then as the elusive quarry of a bizarre, prolonged manhunt. Yet he was also a genuine political idealist-a mild, bookish fellow of literary flourishes with an earnest interest in public affairs — and a settled family man, attentive to his wife and seven children. The lingering puzzle is why this good citizen suddenly, in middle age, started robbing and killing.