The mission fathers came with an ideal of imposing a new moral order on Alta California, but murder, arson, banditry, and confidence trickery followed in their wake. We take a walk on the town’s wild side, starting with the crimes of the Mission Era and continuing with the clashes of the Mexican and American periods, which created the stories of Joaquin Murrieta, Jack Powers, and Pio Linares that permeate our town and culminated in the Zorro industry.

We visit the sites of John C. Frémont and Ramona Pacheco’s dramatic confrontation over a war crime, the hanging ground for the Vigilance Committee, and lawless Tiger Town. We see where our bank panic started, our Chinese Laundry War ended, and personal disputes climaxed in such notorious events as the Countess de Zoheb’s trunk murder and Old Gularte’s cannibal picnic. San Luis may have been small, but it was never sleepy.