excavations around the fictitious town of North Fork, New Mexico have revealed
shallow graves of what could be as many as 180 men. A spokesperson for the Coroner's
office said other exhumations are being performed at unmarked graves in the city
cemetery. The original site was the former "Ranch" of Lucas McCain,
a character portrayed by the late Chuck Conners.
the audience of his once popular half hour "morality play", The
Rifleman, that he was a pacifist widower came easy to the lantern jawed actor.
But now we're finding out that the character McCain had a dark side, and that
when the cameras weren't around he killed nearly everyone who crossed his path.
investigation into the ledgers of the North Fork pawn shops show an incredible
amount of money paid out to L. McCain for saddles, spurs, guns and holsters.
So many in fact, that during the years of McCain's residence in North Fork, saddles
could be bought here for 40% of the prices asked elsewhere in the territory. It
was during this period that Holster City and Saddlebag Depot opened.
alert viewer of Rifleman reruns became suspicious when he noticed that although
Lucas could occasionally be seen repairing a fence, there was no evidence of herd
J. Wainwright of the U. of New Mexico History Dept. has traced McCain's wanderings
before North Fork and has found there is a pattern of settling for a few years
on small ranches a few minutes from the nearest town. Coincidentally, all of these
towns had ineffectual Sheriffs who had been character actors in movies. Not surprising
is the fact that these communities soon became "ghost towns" both figuratively
obvious now", says Prof. Wainwright, "that citizens were onto his masquerade,
but were afraid to say anything. For example there was the time he tried to pay
for a meal with gold teeth. Also obvious now is his choice of weaponry. "It
wasn't necessary to modify your Winchester so it had the firepower of an assault
weapon if you were shooting prairie dogs or coyotes" says Janet Carstairs,
who played an extra in the series.
"justifiable homicides" were so frequent that newsboys would follow
Lucas to pick up his spent shell casings which they sold to the Blacksmith, who
made ashtrays out of them. "Souvenir of North Fork - Home of "Killer
McCain" the ashtrays would say.
were everywhere," continues Prof. Wainwright. "Even his name McCain.
Mc is a prefix for "son of' and Cain is the first man to slay his brother.
It was obvious he wanted to be caught."
guess we all knew what was going on", said Miss Elsie, who ran the
cafe. There was even talk that Mark wasn't really a boy, but a man who had had
electrolysis done. "Like my counterpart in the Andy Griffith show, I knew
it wasn't in the script that I'd marry Lucas." "In those days we knew
our place," she laughs. "Today I could have my own show: Riflebitch!"
"But who cares, the pay was good and the food was catered."
while the excavations continue, his motives remain a mystery. The only question
answered so far is that we now know what Mark's "chores" were and why
Lucas was so concerned that he finish them.