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Red Lodge - Belle Fourche Robbery

Larry E. Heck | Writer
Posted March 1, 2010

Part III: Outlaws on the Run

Long before Sundance Kid began riding with Butch Cassidy, he was teamed up with Kid Curry. The two outlaws were a lot alike. Both were very fast and deadly accurate with six guns. Both shot and killed lawmen, as well as others who they considered to be threats. Most of all, no matter how hard they tried, neither one could plan a successful robbery.

(This is part three of the series following a getaway route across three states.) On June 28, 1897, Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, Tom Oday, Walt Puteney, and George Curry, held up the bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. They got away with about $87.

When the outlaws reached Hole in the Wall, they found it was a powder keg ready to explode. The big ranchers and local lawmen had reached the end of their tolerance for outlaws rustling cattle and taking them into Hole in the Wall. A posse was being organized that would go behind the red wall and flush out any outlaw that remained.

To make matters worse, telegraph wires were buzzing with news about the Belle Fourche robbers. Rewards for their capture far exceeded the few dollars obtained from the robbery. They were wanted by lawmen and bounty hunters, dead or alive. It seemed there was no place to hide. The only thing to do was to run, but even living on the run cost money and they had none to spend. The decision was made to attempt a six-gun withdrawal at the bank in Red Lodge, Montana. They camped outside of town to plan the heist. Sundance Kid and Kid Curry rode into town to get the layout. Unfortunately, the telegraph wires had been busy in Montana too. They were immediately recognized and raced out of town with a posse close behind.

As the outlaws rode west out of Hole in the Wall, the posse rode in from the east. In the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the duo was being chased by a lawman named Joe Lafors. In reality, Lafors was a stock detective who led the first group into Hole in the Wall to round up any cattle wearing brands from ranches outside the hideout. They were met by a band of outlaws and a gunfight broke out. Both sides suffered casualties but the important factor was simply that Hole in the Wall had been breached and could no longer serve as a hideout for anyone.

The route going west out of Hole in the Wall connects to the Hazelton Road at the "2-Cent Ranch." Following their historic trail, Lone Writer turned right toward the town of Ten Sleep. The scenery along this route is spectacular. It follows the ridge formed by the foothills of the Big Horn Mountain range. Wildlife along the way includes a variety of hawks, eagles, deer, and antelope.


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