Butch Cassidy, LeRoy ParkerThe Old West. We conjure up images of beautiful expansive sunsets, cacti, rock formations, cowboys, and Indians. It was the last frontier, with vast ranches, saloons, and struggling pioneer families. And outlaws.
Perhaps no name is as notorious as that of the outlaw Butch Cassidy. Now a romanticized hero, Butch was, in his day, the dreaded mastermind of the Wild Bunch gang. Though he roamed much of the West, his home was Utah. Most of his rustling and robberies occurred elsewhere, but Butch Cassidy nevertheless spent much time in Utah, often seeking protection and transportation.
Although little tangible evidence of Butch remains in Utah today, for those interested in tracking this icon of the American Old West, the journey must begin in Utah. A partial list of Butch Cassidy's Utah stomping grounds follows. Click for more information on Butch Cassidy's history.
Robert LeRoy Parker (later alias, Butch Cassidy) was born on April 13, 1866, in the small town of Beaver, Utah. He would be the first of 13 children born to Mormon-immigrant parents Maximillian and Ann Parker. The Parkers lived in Beaver until 1879, when they moved to Circleville. Their home is still standing (it has undergone some renovations), and is privately owned and occupied. Destination Central Utah
Circleville was Butch Cassidy's boyhood home. He lived here from 1879 until 1884. The Cassidy home and stables remain in frail condition. It is open to visitors. A nearby museum with Parker family artifacts is open by appointment only. Destination Central Utah
Near Milford, Utah, is Hay Springs, the home of Pat Ryan. Ryan was a rancher who hired teenage Butch. As a ranch hand, young Butch was able to help support his family at home. Ryan recalled that at 13, Butch could already do the work of a man. Butch worked for Ryan for a little over two years. Destination Central Utah
At the edge of the Dixie National Forest, approximately eight miles from the Parker home in Circleville, was the ranch of Jim Marshall. Butch worked on the dairy farm after leaving the Ryan Ranch. His mother and two of his siblings also worked for Marshall. It was here that Butch would meet his cattle-rustling mentor, Mike Cassidy. Destination Cedar City
The Carlisle Ranch, approximately five miles northwest of Monticello, was rumored to be friendly to outlaws. After leaving home for good, Butch spent some time working at the ranch. It is believed that he spent several days before the Telluride, Wyoming holdup planning the event at the Carlisle Ranch. He then likely returned to the ranch for several days after the holdup. Destination Monument Valley
Located just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, is scenic Red Canyon. Here, a winding mountain trail has been named for Butch. Supposedly, after attending a dance in nearby Panguitch, Butch got into a fight with another fellow. After dealing a strong blow, Butch fled Panguitch and lost the law in Red Canyon, along what has now been dubbed "Cassidy Trail." Several outfits guide horseback trips along the trail. Destination Bryce
Castle Gate is located in Price Canyon, just a short distance from the central-Utah town of Helper. It was here in 1897, that Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch pulled off what many consider to be their most daring robbery ever. Careful planning led to the $8,800 heist of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company payroll. This was Butch's only Utah holdup. A museum in Helper has exhibits on the robbery. Destination Castle Country
It was the saloonkeepers of Vernal that gave Butch's gang the name "Wild Bunch." When the gang would roll into town, they would say amongst themselves, "There goes that wild bunch!" The name stuck. Butch Cassidy spent time hiding out in Vernal and frequenting the saloons, including the Overholt Saloon. After the Montpelier Bank robbery, Butch stayed in Vernal, at the girlhood home of Maude Davis. Maude was the girlfriend of fellow Wild Bunch member Elzy Lay. Destination Vernal-Flaming Gorge
Located just south of Wyoming, along the Utah-Colorado border was Brown's Park, a popular hideout of Butch Cassidy and other outlaws. In Brown's Park, it was rumored that the only law was that of the fastest gun. Brown's Park was located along the Outlaw Trail, which made it an ideal location for hiding rustled cattle and horses. Butch's girlfriend, Josie Morris, lived at Brown's Park on the Bassett Ranch, where Butch occasionally worked as a ranch hand. Little evidence is left of this outlaw paradise. Remainders include many graves along the river, Josie's cabin, and remnants of Doc Parson's cabin, where Butch Cassidy lived for a brief time. Destination Vernal-Flaming Gorge
This was a popular outlaw hideout for over 30 years. Robbers' Roost is located along the Outlaw Trail, in southeastern Utah. Here, fresh horses were reserved and there was a large weapons cache. Butch considered it an ideal hideout due to the many lookout points on all sides of the canyons. Butch Cassidy's original corral remains in Robbers' Roost, in addition to a stone chimney, caves, and several carvings. Due to the difficult terrain, maze of canyons, and extreme heat, the Roost was never successfully penetrated by authorities. Destination Moab.
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