Carbon County Outlaws: Butch Cassidy

Robert LeRoy Parker, a.k.a. Butch Cassidy was one of the most notorious Outlaws of the Old West, and Carbon County can boast that he spent some time in the Old Frontier Prison in Rawlins. He was born on April 15, 1866 in Beaver, Utah, and while growing up as a teenager, met and fell under the influence of an old cattle rustler by the name of Mike Cassidy. As soon as he could, he left his home, and began his travel down the Outlaw trail

Robert LeRoy Parker..a.k.a. Butch Cassidy

For the first few years after leaving home, Parker migrated from town to town, making an honest living as a cowboy. At one point, he took on a job as a butcher in a Rock Springs, Wyoming meat house, and began calling himself "Butch" because of his occupation. Unable to be satisfied working an honest job, he continued his drifting, and began turning to a life of cattle rustling. In order not to bring shame on the good name of his parents, he took on the name "Cassidy", probably in respect for his teenage mentor, Mike Cassidy.

In 1894, he was caught rustling, and was sentenced to a two year term in the old Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming. After leaving prison, he began master minding train robberies, bank hold-ups, and robbing mine payrolls. His name quickly became notorious and feared throughout the region. He was quick witted, hot tempered, fearless and brave, and had no problem attracting other outlaws to join his escapades, the most famous being Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. "The Sundance Kid". Others in his gang, which became known as the Wild Bunch, included: Harvey Logan, a.k.a. "Kid Curry", Ben Kilpatrick, a.k.a. "The Tall Texan", Harry Tracy, Elzy Lay (Butch's best friend and trusted companion), and several others.

The Wild bunch, operating around the turn of the century, put together the longest string of successful bank robberies in American History and in the Old West. They succeeded in eluding capture for a time, but as the West grew more populated, it became harder and harder to stay out of the way of the Long Arm and jail, or worse...hanging. With the population growth in the West, the Railroads hired the Pinkerton Agency to guard their trains and shipments, and the Pinkerton men soon began pursuing Butch and his gang, as a handsome reward had been posted for their capture....dead or alive.

Wanted: Dead or Alive..Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Wanted Posters

Story has it that Butch Cassidy and the Wild bunch holed up in Carbon County at a place called the Hole in the Wall, near present day Baggs, Wyoming in Carbon County. The area was a perfect hideout, as it was perched high on a mountain, and afforded a view of the deserts below from all directions, enabling the gang to spy would be pursuers approaching them from a distance, giving them time to escape. But, the pressure of his pursuers never ceased and always increased...making it harder and harder to elude capture. In order to avoid capture, Butch and Sundance, and a woman by the name of Etta Place journeyed to Argentina. Etta and The Sundance Kid fell in love, and were married, so the story goes. For awhile, the trio tried to make a go of "honest living" by ranching, but soon turned again to easier ways of obtaining robberies, and hold-ups.

The Sundance's..Harry Longabaugh and Etta Place

On November 3, 1908, the two "Gringos" heisted a Bolivian Mining Companies payroll, and that led to a three day hunt for the men and a final shootout in San Vicente. It is still unclear as to whether or not Butch and Sundance were killed during that shootout, or if they survived and escaped, letting it be "known" that they had been killed, so they could continue living under new aliases. Rumor has it that they at sometime returned to the Old West, and finally took up an honest life. Whether they died in Argentina, or did indeed return to the West is debated, and really irrelevant. The legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will hold a place of esteem for as long as the West remains the West, and will be cussed and discussed as long as men meet and talk of tales of the West.

Exactly when, and for what reason, Butch spent time in the Frontier Prison in Rawlins, I will find out and add that information here..but be assured...Butch Cassidy did indeed spend some time here in Rawlins and in Carbon County...and those that have had the "honor" of being incarcerated in The Wyoming State Penetentiary (especially the Old Pen, which was abandoned in 1982), have slept in the hallowed halls that housed the notorious Outlaw!

The Most Feared Outlaws of Carbon County
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