If only it had been this easy for the law to find Western outlaws in 1901. New signs installed by the Utah Department of Transportation will now point tourists to a family home of Butch Cassidy, located south of Circleville.
Since late 2016, there has been an ongoing project to restore, with state funds, a cabin lived in by the Parker family, the real last name for Butch Cassidy. Born Robert Leroy Parker in 1866 to Mormon parents, Parker left home at 18 to work at various jobs. He would eventual drift onto the “outlaw trail”, taking the name Butch Cassidy (to recognize a mentor & avoid shaming his family).
Demonstrating great intelligence, leadership skills and a desire to avoid violence, Cassidy would head the “Wild Bunch”, a gang targeting banks, trains and mining companies at the close of the 19th century. A consistent thread thru all of the accounts of Cassidy is that he was an affable and generous man.
However, as the 20th century dawned, Cassidy and fellow gang member, The Sundance Kid (real name Harry Longabaugh), recognized that the reach of ever-modernizing law enforcement had ended the era of the “Wild West”. With Sundance’s girlfriend, the mysterious Etta Place, the two outlaws left from New York for South America by ship in 1901.
After several years ranching in Argentina, the two men returned to outlaw activity after accusations of an Argentinian robbery in 1905 that ironically, many historians believe they did not commit. Etta Place would assist Cassidy and Sundance until disappearing from the historical record in 1906.
The common view is that Cassidy and Sundance met their end following a shoot-out with soldiers in San Vincente, Bolivia, on November 6th, 1908. Numerous anecdotal tales, however, claim that perhaps Cassidy did not die in South America and even returned to the United States.
At the restored Cassidy cabin in Utah, officials have now added three new features to the historical site: a parking lot, walking path and displays relaying the history of the famous outlaw. This coming Friday (April 13th) marks 152 years since Cassidy’s birth.
The story of Butch Cassidy has been made most famous by the 1969 hit film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford). In this memorable scene, the two outlaws escape a posse in the American West:
For further reading on Butch Cassidy on this website, visit the link RAILSWESTERN – BUTCH CASSIDY.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)