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Castlegate - The Getaway

Four Wheeler
Larry E. Heck | Writer
Posted December 1, 2010

Part II: Hideout On Robbers Roost

Thursday, April 22, 1897
On Thursday morning, the day after pulling off the most daring daylight robbery for that time, Butch Cassidy kicked dirt over the campfire in Tidwell Bottoms and headed for Robbers Roost. No one can be certain who followed him out of camp that morning. Elzy Lay held the horses in Castlegate while Cassidy took the money so he was surely in the group. Although he was never seen, Bob Meeks was named on the historic marker as being involved. Other writers claimed Joe Walker cut the telegraph wires. The newspaper story stated a mail driver saw four riders with five horses leaving that camp at Tidwell Bottoms. It was possible that the four men suspected were all involved and used that camp for a rendezvous.

They had originally left Castlegate with $8,000 in gold and paper. Along the way they dropped the bag with the paper money probably because it was too easily traced. They still had $7,000 in gold. According to an inflation calculator, that would be equal to about $200,000 in today's money.

On that same Thursday morning, a posse from Salt Lake City arrived in Green River by train and rode toward the San Rafael River in hopes of finding the outlaws. They came upon the mail driver and learned they were more than six hours behind the four riders he saw ride out of camp. Rather than risk riding into Robbers Roost, the posse returned to Green River.

The newspaper story ended with this statement: "It is admitted that they are now as safe as though they had been swallowed up by the earth and that the Carpenter holdup will probably end." A local gunfighter (mercenary) offered to invade Robbers Roost with heavy guns and clean out the outlaws, but the Pleasant Valley Coal Company did not agree to his terms.

Thursday, April 22, 2010
On Thursday morning, 113 years after Butch Cassidy rode out of Tidwell Bottoms, Lone Writer started his 4x4 near that same location. Tidwell Bottoms is a very large area so there is no way to know exactly where the outlaws camped. Lone Writer crossed I-70 on the road to Hanksville. After a short distance, he turned on a dirt road that follows the banks of the San Rafael River onto Robbers Roost. Because water is scarce on the Roost, it is assumed the outlaws followed the river.

The San Rafael River along that road is posted as a wildlife area. Along the way, it passes an abandoned ranch with log cabins and sod roofs. A short distance later, the road becomes more of an ATV trail. Four-wheel-drive vehicles still use it but not nearly as often as ATVs. The scenic views of the river area and the desert that surrounds it are in every direction.

Eventually, the trail crosses the Green River at Spring Canyon Ford. At that point, the brush on both sides is very thick and may put some pin stripes in the paint of a fullsize vehicle. The depth of the water will depend on the time of year and recent rainfall. Once the river is crossed, the road becomes better maintained and can be used by vehicles pulling trailers, although there are places with deep sand. It is best if there is more than one vehicle in the group just in case tugging through sandy areas becomes necessary.

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