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Red Lodge - Belle Fourche Robbery

Posted in Events on March 1, 2010
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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.

PhotosView Slideshow

The town of Ten Sleep marks a camping site along a trail used by Indians during the 1800s. They measured the distance of a trail by how many nights the journey took. This camp was the 10th night and therefore labeled, Ten Sleep. This is a refueling and restocking location for anyone using our route along the Outlaw Trail. There is a campground with showers at the edge of town.

From Ten Sleep, Lone Writer continued north along the Indian Trail. That route is designated as a BLM Backway. It crosses baron country with no facilities until the dinosaur tracks historic site.

The tracks are difficult to distinguish from other markings. In fact, even when looking directly at a designated track, we could not make out enough of it to make a good photo. There are numerous markers with excellent drawings describing the site. Pit toilets and picnic tables are also available.

Farther along the route, Lone Writer stopped at the historic ranch site established by Henry Clay Lovell. The nearby town of Lovell is named in his honor. Mr. Lovell is credited with bringing cattle ranching to the area but the largest industry in the county is now sugar.

The Lovell Homestead has been preserved and is open for public inspection, but watch for rattlesnakes. A brochure is normally available at the gate describing the buildings and the history of the ranch.

By the time the outlaws rode into town, Red Lodge had been a thriving mining town for more than 10 years. The bank building they intended to rob was only a couple years old. It still sits on the same corner but is no longer a bank. At the top of the building is the word "Bank," along with the year of construction.

There are several other buildings stamped with dates in that same time period, including the Pollard Hotel, which is across the street from the bank. The visitor center has brochures providing a walking tour around town for those interested in the history of the area.

Stories about the events surrounding the attempted robbery come in many variations. The one we find easiest to believe is that Kid Curry was recognized by the sheriff. Of course, the sheriff knew better than to face down two gunslingers like Sundance Kid and Kid Curry, so they had time to make a run for it while he searched for others to form a posse.

The posse caught up with the outlaws north of Red Lodge. Kid Curry was shot in the arm during the capture. Sundance Kid and Walt Puteney were captured without a shootout.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow


Trip Meter - Latitude North - Longitude West - Comments

0.0 - N43 43.0000 - W106 38.6214 - At the exit for the rest area in Kaycee, across from the Sinclair station, turn west.
0.7 - N43 43.2240 - W106 39.5171 - Turn left and follow signs to Barnum, then to Outlaw Cave.
16.1 - N43 39.6510 - W106 54.3279 - Left fork goes to Outlaw Cave. Barnum is at this corner on the right. The road to Outlaw Cave is closed November 16 to April 15.
7.9 - N43 35.1961 - W106 56.7777 - Right into Outlaw Cave. Left is the road going through to Hazelton Road.

0.6 - N43 34.9883 - W106 57.1733 - Prehistoric rock shelter.
3.9 - N43 34.3582 - W107 0.2816 - Left fork.
4.5 - N43 34.5619 - W107 0.9277 - Left fork.
8.8 - N43 32.2761 - W107 3.4711 - The road to the left goes to Hole in the Wall by way of Poker Creek and Hole in the Wall Slope. To use it, permission is required from the Hole in the Wall Ranch and from Willow Creek Ranch.
12.9 - N43 31.9923 - W107 6.7712 - Left fork.
14.1 - N43 31.5505 - W107 8.5350 - Turn right onto Hazelton Road.

5.3 - N43 34.6001 - W107 8.5556 - Middle Fork Campground, pit toilet, picnic area.

13.2 - N43 44.0995 - W107 8.1499 - Right on 81.
29.5 - N43 54.8759 - W107 2.7074 - Left.
35.1 - N43 58.9193 - W107 4.3616 - Left on Rome Hill Road.
55.2 - N44 3.1949 - W107 23.5236 - Left on Hwy 16 to Ten Sleep.
58.7 - N44 2.0338 - W107 26.7092 - Ten Sleep Museum. Supplies available in town. To continue route, go to west end of town.

0.0 - N44 2.0532 - W107 27.0698 - Turn North on Cottonwood Street across from RV park.
9.0 - N44 8.2459 - W107 32.0705 - Turn right on 54.
17.7 - N44 14.7739 - W107 36.1649 - Hyattville – no gas.
18.2 - N44 15.1948 - W107 36.1954 - Right turn.
18.5 - N44 15.4605 - W107 36.1785 - Straight on gravel on Alkali Road.
21.1 - N44 17.2756 - W107 37.5216 - Right fork on byway.
33.0 - N44 24.6969 - W107 33.4201 - Left staying on byway.
48.3 - N44 27.8517 - W107 48.9106 - Dinosaur tracks parking on left. Also outhouse. Route is right.

5.2 - N44 31.1837 - W107 51.6979 - Left onto Hwy between mile posts 10 and 11.
8.3 - N44 31.2214 - W107 55.4481 - Right on Davis Lane after mile post 8.

1.1 - N44 32.2013 - W107 55.4744 - Left. Note warning signs.
4.8 - N44 32.0966 - W107 59.7661 - Right turn.
6.7 - N44 33.4953 - W108 0.7355 Left onto Crystal Creek Road.
17.0 - N44 41.1816 - W108 4.4769 - Left.
19.4 - N44 41.4991 - W108 7.0995 - Right fork.
28.7 - N44 47.8218 - W108 9.6569 - Left on two track trail going North.
31.1 - N44 49.7227 - W108 9.5237 - Turn left and follow road around homestead.
31.4 - N44 49.8717 - W108 9.5320 - Right fork going up hill is the highway.
31.7 - N44 49.9114 - W108 9.2510 - Left on Hwy between mile posts 59 and 60. Drive through Lovell to Cowley.
51.0 - N44 53.0218 - W108 28.1563 - Right on Division Street in Cowley. Watch for airport sign.

1.6 - N44 54.4322 - W108 27.9387 - Left onto gravel road.
3.6 - N44 54.8088 - W108 29.9232 - Right turn.
4.7 - N44 54.8896 - W108 31.1504 - Left turn.
5.2 - N44 54.4555 - W108 31.1658 - Right turn.
8.0 - N44 54.4611 - W108 34.4837 - Right turn.
14.2 - N44 57.9620 - W108 37.2893 - Right to pass through town of Frannie.
14.4 - N44 58.1582 - W108 37.3013 - Left at post office.
26.4 - N44 58.3703 - W108 50.3189 - Right turn, then immediate left fork.
30.9 - N45 0.0000 - W108 54.0473 - Montana border.
43.7 - N45 9.5940 - W108 57.8953 - Left on Dutch Lane.
45.7 - N45 9.5960 - W109 0.3510 - Left on 72.

1.5 - N45 8.5079 - W109 0.6759 - Town of Belfry. Take right fork. Hwy 308.
16.1 - N45 10.4382 - W109 15.0118 - Right on 212. This is Red Lodge.

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