The legendary and controversial story behind Butch Cassidy and his partner, the Sundance Kid, goes back to the time of the American Old West. This time period was marked by exploration and people’s struggle with cultural conflicts, economic growth or falls, and mental as well as physical drama. Harry Longabaugh (the “Sundance Kid”) Criminal career started prior to his joining the “Wild Bunch”. On February 27, 1887, while traveling from South Dakotas Black Hills back to the ranch, named “N bar N”, where he worked at as a cowboy.
Twenty years old Harry Longabaugh passed through a ranch called the “Three V Ranch”. While passing through this ranch, which was owned by a group of English investors, young Longabaugh stole a grey horse (branded J on its shoulder), a gun, and a saddle. He continued his journey to N bar N while the Three V Ranch’s employees were looking for a young man that is smooth-faced and has grey eyes. After unsuccessful two weeks of searching, with information given from one of the Three V Ranch employees, Harry Longabaugh was arrested by the James Ryan, Sherriff of Sundance, Wyoming.
A few months later, while heading as a prisoner west to Rapid City, South Dakota, Longabaugh slipped from his handcuffs and jumped of the moving train while the sheriff was in the bathroom. After coming back to Wyoming with no luck of relocating his escaped prisoner, Sheriff Ryan offered a $250 for Longabaugh. In a not so smart move, Longabaugh returned to N bar N and was soon caught by the Sheriff’s Deputy. He arrested and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. During the time he spent in jail, Harry Longabaugh was given his new nickname, by which he is known today: the “Sundance Kid”.
A few years later, late in august 1891, Butch Cassidy, that was considered as the “worst man in four states…Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. ”(“The Washington Post”,pg. 20’), followed his future partner’s path to prison. While Butch Cassidy was staying at a place called ”Mail Camp”, Billy Nutcher, a part of the “Jack Bliss” gang, rode in trailing three saddle horses. He put his horses under care and joined a person named Burnaugh and his guests, including Butch Cassidy.
Butch was interested in Nutcher’s business, as well as his horses, and a discussion about a sale soon followed. After a short discussion, a deal was struck, and Cassidy became the owner of three horses. The problem was that not a lot of attention was paid to the paperwork. Ranchers in the area started to notice that their horses were disappearing, and soon discovered that Cassidy and one of his associates in the horse dealing “business” were stealing the animals. After one of the ranchers served a complaint and an investigation started.
With the lawmen on their tail, Cassidy and his associate hided in a ranch, but were discovered shortly thereafter. They were taken into custody for a few months before going into trail, and were then found guilty. After a few months they were brought a few times in front of a judge with new evidence. At the end, Cassidy was found guilty and sentenced to prison. Not long after his release from prison, Butch Cassidy started to gather some of his outlaw friends. One of its first recruits was the Sundance Kid. This new formed group was later known as the famous “Wild Bunch”.
The story of Butch Cassidy (real name, Robert LeRoy Parker) and the Sundance Kid as partners in crime is in fact became well known by the American Western film, directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman, carrying the name of the two- “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. The film features the two as two friends who try to be as successful as they can be as robbers while escaping the law. The main cliffhanger of the movie is that the two believe they are being chased by a lawman that was paid to kill them.
Consequently, the both escape to Bolivia while being accompanied by the Sundance Kid’s girlfriend Etta, and become successful bank robbers known as “Los Bandidos Yanquis”. At some point they do attempt to live the “straight” life, but encounter lawmen that recognize them and start a shootout. The film ends at a freeze frame shot of the two charging out of a building while participating in a shootout, which they started, after believing they saw the man who was paid to kill them.
Although the film is based loosely on fact and has holes in it, it prorates the most famous train robbery that was conducted by the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, alongside their gang: the robbery of the Union Pacific overland flyer train near Wilcox, Wyoming. In the first robbery, which probably accrued a few years earlier, was successful. According to a newspaper, Pacific train no. 8 was held by a bandits at about 1 o’clock at august 21. The robbery was successful (for the bandits), and luckily no one was hurt (“the Atlanta Constitution”, pg. ).
In the second robbery, unlike the first one that goes well, Butch Cassidy uses to much dynamite and blowing up the baggage car. While the gang, which consisted of nine members, (as reported by one of the gang members to the “Washington Post”) was desperately trying to gather up their money, lawmen arrive to the scene and a famous and massive man hunt begins. The gang scatters Besides the film, there are many more records of that day. One of them is an eyewitness who was actually a mail clerk working on the Union Pacific Railroad.
His name was Robert Lawson and he recounted his experience in the June 8, 1899 issue of the Buffalo Bulletin, a newspaper that operates even today. “As soon as we came to a standstill, Conductor Storey went forward to see what was the matter and saw several men with guns, one of whom shouted that they were going to blow up the train with dynamite…Following close behind the shooting came a terrific explosion, and one of the doors was completely wrecked and most of the car windows broken.
The bandits then threatened to blow up the whole car if we didn’t get out, so Bruce gave the word and we jumped down, and were immediately lined up and searched for weapons…The men all wore masks reaching below their necks and of the three I observed, one looked to be six foot tall, the others being about ordinary sized men. The leader appeared to be about 50 years old and spoke with a squeaky voice, pitched very high. (Robert Lawson, the “Buffalo Bulletin”) Two years after robbing the Union Pacific Railroad , Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Ethel “Etta” Place (the Sundance Kid’s girlfriend), fled to New York City and from there they departed to Buenos Aires, Argentina, aboard the British steamer “Herminius”. There they settled together on a 15,000-acre that they purchased on the east bank of the Rio Blanco (west-central Argentina).
On February 14, 1905, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed a bank in Rio Gallegos (the capital and largest settlement of the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz in Argentina) and escaped with the largest amount of money that they will ever manage to escape with. After that massive bank robbery, they sold their ranch because lawmen were beginning to suspect them. They fled north aboard the steamer “Condor” across Nahuel Huapi Lake and into Chile.
A year later, Etta would leave with the Sundance Kid back to the United States and Cassidy would become a Miner in the Santa Vera Cruz range of the central Bolivian Andes. Later on, the Sundance Kid reunited with Cassidy and they worked together at the Concordia Tin Mine. The cause for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s deaths are less known and still remain a mystery. The most accepted theory for their deaths todays is that they died at a shootout at Bolivia.
Another theory about the cause for their death is only about Butch Cassidy, which says that he was shot died at Chiloe, where he operated a successful ranch for five years. Never the less, those theories did not stop people from believing that there is a chance that the two men who were killed by the authorities in Bolivia were not Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Some say that the police made a mistake, and that the real Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid returned to the US and lived there for the rest of their lives.
Some say that Butch Cassidy died peacefully Paraguay, Chiloe, or even at Spokane, Washington in 1935. Among those claimers this is even Cassidy’s sister, who claimed that Cassidy came for a visit in the fall of 1925. “Take your pick. There are a lot of Butch Cassidy tales in this part of Argentina because he spent so much time here. Many descendants of those who knew Cassidy live in Bariloche or in the nearby countryside, and the local museum exhibits photos and documents relating to the North American Bandits. ”
Courtney from Study Moose
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