Shootout at Marble Canyon

Shootout at Marble Canyon

Buck Lowery’s filling station at Marble Canyon is pictured here in 1930.
Buck Lowery’s filling station at Marble Canyon is pictured here in 1930.

Buck Lowery, owner of the pictured filling station at Marble Canyon, befriended Carl and Albert White in 1930. Lowery fed the runaway Utah brothers, aged 12 and 14 respectively, a free meal and arranged homebound transportation for them, thinking no more about the episode.

Five years later, the brothers, now 17 and 19, stole an automobile and began an odyssey across much of the West, burglarizing small town post offices to cover expenses. Along the way they picked up a hitchhiker, Carl Cox, and the trio headed toward Arizona.

Late on a June evening they crossed the Colorado River and pulled into Buck’s filling station, a quarter mile north from where they had crossed. They waited until William G. Wilson, an aged Englishman and trusted employee, finished serving a customer. Albert stuck a gun in his ribs and demanded money. When Wilson resisted, Albert shot him.  Unnerved, the boys jumped into their car and sped away.

Awakened by the ruckus, Buck and his son David found their stricken employee, arranged for transportation to the hospital, grabbed weapons and drove off in pursuit – only to run out of gas.

After considerable delay, Buck telephoned a lawman at Fredonia who formed a posse and erected a roadblock. The trio spotted it in time to make a U-turn and disappear into the dark.

Assuming correctly that the boys had fled into the Kaibab Forest, the lawmen began an all-night hunt. At daybreak the car was spotted, but the boys managed to escape the vehicle and flee once again into the forest on foot. It wasn’t until the following day that they were caught.

The boys were jailed at Flagstaff, where the gravely wounded Wilson identified Albert as the shooter before he succumbed to his gunshot wound. The three were all charged with first degree murder. When the brothers told Buck they were the same lads he had befriended five years earlier, he said, “This is a hell of a way to repay my kindness.”

Not anxious to visit the gas chamber, Albert secured a hacksaw blade, cut through the cell bars and escaped. He stole a new Ford V-8 and sped north.

While lawmen scoured the state, Buck and David built a roadblock at Marble Canyon, following a gut feeling that Albert was on his way. When a car approached at high speed, Buck tried to flag it down. The driver swerved and headed straight for Buck, who jumped into a ditch. Buck and David opened fire and the car veered off into a ravine. They cautiously approached the bullet-riddled vehicle to find Albert sprawled across the seat, with three bullet holes in his head. As Buck told a coroner’s jury later, the young man was “very dead.”

Carl White and Carl Cox were tried and found guilty of lesser charges and sent to the penitentiary. Buck and David Lowery returned to Marble Canyon to continue the business of running their trading post and filling station.

– Arizona Capitol Times archives.