Thank you to the amazing authors at Sweethearts of the West for inviting me back!
Last year my faithful camp cook, aka Cookie, and I introduced you to an obscure outlaw who ended up as footwear. Today we’d like to take you in the opposite direction to one of the most famous outlaw hideouts and introduce y’all around to a few of the more colorful part-time residents of Wyoming.
Oh, Cookie just brought up a good point. Y’all better leave your valuables on your wagons…we’re just sayin’ can’t be too careful at the Hole-in-the-Wall!
Southwest Johnson County, Wyoming lying between the Red Wall and is the most famous hideout on
the Outlaw Trail, the Hole-in-the-Wall. Between roughly the 1860s and 1910, 30
to 40 outlaws stayed in the secluded spot including Jesse James and Butch
Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. Big Horn Mountains
The area was (and still is) isolated taking about a day’s journey by horseback from any semblance of civilization. It is a steep climb to the top of the Wall, but overlooking the country below it is no wonder this location was chosen. With sweeping 360 views the pass was well situated to spot approaching lawmen and the narrowness of the approach made it easy to defend. The grassy plateau at the top and creek bed of the canyon below made it a good spot to graze all the rustled cattle.
In this area in the 1880s and 1890s, rustlers grazed stolen cattle and provided refuge to outlaws. Inhabitants of the six cabins that stood in the valley were known as the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Members of the gang included Bob Smith, Al Smith, Bob Taylor, George Currie, Tom O’Day, and the Roberts Brothers. Later Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy), Harry Longbaugh (the Sundance Kid), and Harvey Alexander Logan (Kid Curry).
So let me introduce y’all to our hosts. Robert Leroy Parker, born in 1866, was the son of devout Mormons. He was led into a life a crime by Mike Cassidy and adopted the name George Cassidy, some believe as a way of not bringing shame on his family. In 1885, Mike Cassidy disappeared after killing a
rancher. Parker took a job with Charlie Crouse. Crouse operated a ranch in
Brown’s Hole and a butcher shop in . It
was alleged Crouse sold meat from cattle he rustled. It was while employed by
Crouse, Parker adopted the name Butch. Rock
By 1886, Parker was living near Meeteetse, Wyoming under his real name. It is believed he participated in the robbery of the San Miquel Valley Bank in Telluride in June of 1889. The Telluride robbery saw the introduction of a new tactic used by members of the Wild Bunch. Along the escape route, the robbers stationed fresh horses. The pursuing posse would have to continue the chase on tired horses, therefore the robbers could elude capture.
|Butch Cassidy's prison photo|
During this time, Parker continued to engage in rustling in
Wyoming. He was arrested
for horse stealing near Meeteetse and sentenced in 1894 to the State
Penitentiary (in Laramie).
He was released early in 1896 and returned to a life of crime using a series of
hideouts including Robbers’ Roost in southern Utah, Brown’s Hole in northwest
Colorado, and of course the Hole-in-the-Wall.
|Harry Longabough, aka Sundance Kid|
Our second host is Harry Longabough. Born in
Pennsylvania in 1867, he moved to Colorado with his family. By age twenty,
Longabough was working as a cowboy for the N Bar N owned by the Neidringhaus
Brothers in . In 1887, out of work and drifting
he stole a horse, gun and saddle from Western Ranches, Ltd, owner of the Three
V’s near Culbertson, Montana . He was arrested and pleaded guilty,
and was sentenced to 18 months in the Sundance jail. He was pardoned by
Governor Thomas Moonlight. Longabough drifted to Bell Fourche, Sundance, Wyoming South Dakota, and there
as a result of his bravado about the time spent in the Sundance jail he earned
the appellation of Sundance or Sundance Kid.
Sundance moved north and worked for a period of time at the Bar U in
Alberta and for a short period of
time in the saloon business at Grand Central Hotel in Calgary. He then returned to Montana and the N Bar N
at its Rock Creek unit.
In 1892, Sundance was implicated with Tom McCarty (an acquaintance from
Colorado), Matt Warner, and
Butch Cassidy, in the robbery of the Great Northern westbound #23 near Malta, Montana.
By 1896, Sundance was reported to be in the Baggs and
area. Dixon, Wyoming
|George Currie aka Kid Curry|
On June 28, 1897, Sundance along with George Currie (Kid Curry), Walt Punteney and Tom O’Day participated in the robbery of the Butte County Bank in
. The bank was a huge target. After the
railroad arrived, the town became prosperous as being a loading point for
cattle and later sheep. The bank was so prosperous it was acquired in 1903 by
Clay, Robinson, and Co., the largest commission agents in the country. John
Clay managed the Three Vs, the ranch Sundance had stolen a horse and saddle
beginning his criminal career. Belle Fourche,
The robbery and subsequent pursuit by the law was a comedy of errors with one man, O’Day, being found in a privy behind on of the numerous saloons after O’Day’s horse decided to leave town without him. It took until September for Sheriff John Dunn,
Carbon County, Montana, and a small posse to catch up to the other three
near . In the ensuing shootout, Kid
Curry’s horse was shot through the neck and Curry was shot through the wrist.
Curry leaped onto the horse and galloped away, only to have the horse drop
dead. All three were arrested and transported to Deadwood Jail. There they
escaped, stole horses and gear. They eluded capture on foot, losing horses and
swag they had stolen. Ultimately, they made it back to the Hole-in-the-Wall,
where as a result of their adventures, they were accepted as full members of
the Hole-in-the-Wall gang. Musselshell River
Harvey Logan, Kid Curry, might be takin’ up residence at the Hole unless he’s out…on business. Harvey Alexander Logan was born in
Iowa in 1867. After
their mother died the four Logan boys, Hank,
Johnnie, Lonny, and Harvey moved to Missouri and lived with
an aunt. With Johnnie and Lonny, and a cousin, Harvey Logan left home to trail
cattle from Texas to Colorado. The four ultimately wandered to
the Hole-in-the-Wall where they met George Currie and adopted the last name
In 1894, the “Curry” Brothers established a ranch near
Landusky, Montana, in
what is now . The town was named after Phillips
Landusky who discovered gold in the area. Not long after their arrival the
brothers had a falling out with Landusky due to the fact Lonny impregnated
Landusky’s daughter, Elfie. For some reason, Landusky blamed Powell “ Pike ” Harvey for the deed.
Now just to warn y’all,
Harvey’s a might quick tempered, especially
when he’s had a bit of alcohol to raise his blood temperature. And after
enjoying too much Christmas Spirit at “Jew Jake’s” Saloon, Landusky and Harvey decided to settle
their differences in a way not keeping with the Season. Harvey, being younger, had the advantage and
after bringing Landusky down he proceeded to beat the town founder’s head to a
pulp against the floor. Lonnie and another friend kept spectators at bay using
their side arms. Landusky reached for a revolver from his pocket. Harvey was handed a gun
and shot Landusky dead. Eleven witnesses swore it was self defense, but the
brothers fearing Harvey
wouldn’t receive a fair trial departed town on a stolen buckboard.
On the outlaw trail,
fell in with Butch and Sundance and participated in the Wilcox and
train robberies… Tipton, Wyoming
A trestle across the Union Pacific near
at 1:00 a.m., June 2, 1899, forces the Overland Flyer to halt. Men wearing
masks made from white napkins, possible stolen from the Harvey House
Restaurant, boarded the train. One of the men after unsuccessfully forcing the
engineer to pull the train forward, pulls the train forward himself. The
trestle is dynamited to prevent the second section of train from catching up. The
train is pulled forward two miles and stopped. Wilcox, Wyoming
There the express car was surrounded, and the attendant, E.C. Woodcock, was ordered to open the door. He refused. The car was blown up. Woodcock suffers a concussion from the blast and can’t remember the combination to the safe. The gang blows up the safe and stole $30,000, some of the bank notes being scorched by the explosion or stained with raspberries also in the car.
|Train after robbers blew it up|
Even though the men were masked immediate suspicion falls on the Wild Bunch. Other newspapers identified the culprits as the Roberts brothers and reported the robbers to be George Currie and the Roberts brothers. It is now believed the name “Roberts” was used by Sundance and Harvey Logan. Authorities believed some of the robbers were headed for the Hole-in-the-Wall. Posses gave chase. Near Teapot Creek some of culprits were cornered by a posse led by Converse County Sheriff Joe Hazen. In the ensuing fire fight, Sheriff Hazen was killed and the train robbers made their escape by swimming across the river.
On August 29, 1900, train robbers, using the same modus operandi robbed the Union Pacific No. 3 Train near
of $50,000 in gold. Woodcock, if you can believe it, was again the express car
attendant. This time he opened the door. The robbers were pursued by a posse
led by Sheriff McDaniel of Tipton, Wyoming Carbon County, Sheriff Peter Swanson of
and United States Marshal Frank Hadsell until the tracks of the robbers were
obliterated by a rain. Five years later an employee on a construction crew for
the Farris-Haggarty tramway discovered near the head waters of Cow Creek thee
bags in which the money from the Tipton Robbery had originally been held. Sweetwater County
Although successful the Wilcox and Tipton Robberies marked the beginning of the end for the Wild Bunch and many of its members fled to
Bolivia or Argentina including Butch Cassidy,
Sundance and Etta Place.
|Butch Cassidy and Etta Place|
Of all the Wild Bunch members
Etta Place is the most mysterious. She is
one of the Wild West’s most legendary women. Beautiful and wild she is reported
to have been mistress to both Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Eyewitnesses maintain
she was the second woman to ride into Robber’s Roost in the winter of 1897. She
was allegedly 20 years old at the time, strikingly beautiful, an excellent
horsewoman, and outstanding rifle shot, Etta became Sundance’s primary love
Etta was reportedly a refined, highly educated woman of Eastern birth and rearing. She’s also alleged to have been a prostitute from
Texas. Others claim she
was a schoolteacher from with music as her
primary discipline. Even her relationship(s) with Butch and Sundance is a
mystery. It’s been said she was Butch’s mistress then Sundance took an interest
and she went with him. There are even rumors the three lived as a ménage
a’trois. Even her name has been debated as five different women who road with
the Wild Bunch used the alias Denver,
We do know, Etta traveled to
and Bolivia with Sundance
and Butch returning to the United States
three times during their time in South America.
After returning to the United States
in 1908 with Sundance, where he left her in Denver, Etta Place was never heard from again.
Many claimed to be her, or claimed to be her son or daughter with Butch, but
nothing was ever verified. But once Butch and Sundance were run to ground in
South America Etta disappeared, as well.
The six cabins no longer stand at the Hole-in-the-Wall, and time has covered their foundations. But if you’d like a Wild West experience you can stay at the Willow Creek Ranch. The Willow Creek Ranch dates to 1882 when it was founded by Kenneth MacDonald, an immigrant sheep rancher. The area’s small ranchers, such as MacDonald, aided the outlaws because they didn’t want any trouble, and outlaws rustle from large cattle barons and robbed trains with well-filled strong boxes.
Today, a rugged dirt road leads from ranch headquarters to the former hideout. Guests can walk threw the chunks of foundation remaining and picnic beneath the old cottonwoods by Buffalo Creek while dreaming of the days when Butch, Sundance and the gang would seek refuge at the Hole-in-the-Wall.
Okay folks, we’re gettin’ close so get yer hand off the heel of your gun before ya get us all blown to bits. Smile big and look like ya belong! It’s sure to be a high kickin’ time with this bunch!
A Wyomingite through and through after six years in the DC area, Kirsten Lynn had enough of the big city and returned home to Wyoming. Centered in the communities in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains, she writes stories based on the people and history of this area that holds her heart. When she’s not roping, riding and rabblerousing with the cowboys and cowgirls who have taken up residence in her endless imagination, she has the honor of helping to preserve the history of Wyoming managing the artifact collection of a local museum and writing the histories of local ranches.
She is truly blessed to be living in and writing about the Wild West! Come visit Kirsten round the campfire at www.kirstenlynnwildwest.com.