Tucked in amidst the long days and nights of farm work there are a few days when a breather can be taken. This summer we decided we will be tourists in our own town. This is the second in a series of post chronicling our staying home.
Butch Cassidy, the famed outlaw of the west.
Also Winnemucca’s claim to fame. One of the few billboards here states, “Butch Cassidy left here rich…so can you!”
The story goes that Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Bill Carver camped east of town for about 10 days at the CS Ranch. On Sept. 19, 1900, the three made their way to town. Butch and Sundance arrived first with Carver trailing behind looking like a tramp with a gun concealed in his bedroll as “insurance” in case things didn’t go as planned. On the way to town Carver met a skunk. When Carver arrived at the First National Bank he couldn’t stand himself. The bank officials, Sundance, and Butch were nearly asphyxiated by the time the robbery was completed.
As soon as the outlaws ran out of the bank, the town was alerted to the robbery by a bank official firing his revolver. Several men gave chase but the robbers got away on horse back. They had relay stations with fresh horses set up every 10 miles or so all the way to the Idaho border. Butch, Sundance, and Carver had made a clean escape.
The outlaws made away with $31,000 in twenty dollar gold pieces, $1,200 in five and ten gold coins and the rest in paper currency for a total of $32, 640. It is said that Butch wrote back to the bank to thank them and included a picture of five members of the Wild Bunch gang.
As with most historical figures some stories are fact while others are myths. Which do you think this is?
Me? I tend to believe the story as written by Robert Leroy Parker’s sister, Lula Parker Betenson in the book “Butch Cassidy, My Brother.” She includes in her book excerpts from letters written by Vic Button who was ten at the time of the robbery.
“It was fall of the year and time for the fall roundup. . . The roundup was held at the CS Ranch, a few miles east of Winnemucca on the Humboldt River, where I had my home.
“About four miles down the river from the ranch houses, three men had made their camp. I remember these men well and later learned they were Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and Bill Carver. Even though I was only ten years old I remember them clearly as this turned out to be quite an important event in my life. They had made their camp by a haystack. There was also a well where they could get drinking water. They were camped there for ten days. Each day I would ride down there and visit with them. The reason I would go to theri camp is because they had this white horse. I had never seen such a horse…..I told Butch there there were over a hundred saddle horses at the ranch but none of them could ever beat the white horse. He said, “You like that horse? Someday he will be yours.”
“I got pretty well acquainted with them. They would ride into Winnemucca every few days and bring back peppermint candy for me…They would ask me all kinds of questions about the bank. I told them there were three who worked there, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Lee, and Fanny Harp….After the robbery, CLover Valley is where three possemen caught up with them, They were Burns Colwell, Shorty Johnson, and Jim McVey. Butch, Sundance, adn Bill Carver had opened and closed the wire gate and were changing their packs to fresh horses. They told the three possemen they would shoot it out with them. The possemen turned and rode back to town. This is when Butch shouted, “Give the white horse to the kid at the CS Ranch.” It was at this point, when they changed mounts, that they left the white horse behind….As I look back I remember these men were good to me. They seemed to have fun and joke amongst themselves. I can only say that for them to remember their promise to a kid when the posse was so close, that these men could not have been all bad.”
Button Point is an exit off I-80 just east of Winnemucca. The old CS Ranch is still there, complete with an old house, barns, and corrals.We drove out there not to long ago to have our family picture taken.