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Archives on the Air 262: Mexico in the Time of Pancho Villa – Martin N. Gaines papers

Martin Gaines worked for the American Smelting and Refining Company as a chemical engineer. Seeking an adventurous start to his career, he headed to Mexico. It was 1912 and the midst of Mexico’s civil war.

Within months of his arrival in Mexico, a large band of heavily armed men galloped into town. After a prolonged gun battle, the guerillas shot the chief of police and ransacked the village. Gaines and one of his colleagues were held at gunpoint.

Soon thereafter, Pancho Villa, the famed Mexican revolutionary and guerilla leader, came to town. Villa and his revolutionaries occupied the smelting yard. While they gave the Americans working at the smelter a safe conduct pass, living in Mexico became more and more dangerous.

Gaines and a number of other smelter employees finally made a daring escape by train back to the U.S..

Learn more about Mexico in the time of Pancho Villa in the Martin N. Gaines papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.