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Castlegate - The Getaway

Posted in Events on March 1, 2011
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When Butch Cassidy and his bandit buddies rode into Brown's Hole the last week of July 1879, their saddlebags were loaded with gold coins from the Castle Gate holdup. Their first stop would have been Jarvie's Outpost to get the latest news. If there was anything going on in Brown's Hole, Jarvie would have know. It was probably at that location where he first learned about the death of Old Man Bender, the leader of the Powder Springs gang.

Jarvie's Outpost
Today, Jarvie's is now a tourist attraction with free admission. It has been restored and maintained so visitors can get a feel of what Jarvie's Outpost was like during the years when it was in operation.

John and Nellie Jarvie arrived in Brown's Hole during 1880. They lived in a dugout built by another man. That dugout is also restored and interesting to walk around in but beware of the low ceiling.

During 1881 Jarvie added the store and a ferry operation. The location the family chose on the far west side of Brown's Hole turned out to be a popular gateway. Since the Hole was mostly populated by those hiding from the law, mail was not delivered beyond its outer limits. Jarvie took on the task as postmaster. Those who were living in the Hole could pick up their mail at the outpost.

Jarvie's ferry was also an important addition to that remote country. It provided easy access to lands on the south side of the river. Stories can be found about those who fell off the ferry, but for the most part, its passengers stayed dry.

Perhaps the most important function the outpost provided was acting as a communications center. Travelers could learn about activities in all directions from the outpost. The closest store or town in any direction was more than 35 miles.

Jarvie was killed in 1909 by drifters who were after his money. They put his body in a boat and shoved it into the river. The boat with his body was found downstream days later.

Queen Of The Cattle Rustlers
Cassidy and his gang still had a long way to go after leaving Jarvie's. Powder Springs is located on the far-east outskirts of Brown's Hole. He may have stopped by the Bassett family ranch to visit with a young lady he was friendly with. Her name was Ann Bassett, and she was every bit as wild and as much a leader as Cassidy.

Ann had been raised among cattle rustlers and even had her own gang called the Bassett Gang to defend the land she claimed. When other cattle barons tried to move in, they quickly found her to be an opponent who would not be intimidated. In later years, when the law was moving into Brown's Hole, Ann was arrested twice for cattle rustling. She was never convicted and became known as the Queen of the Cattle Rustlers.

Today, Brown's Park is a beautiful place to visit. It has been mostly consumed by the Brown's Park National Wildlife Refuge. It seems ironic that a place where government once feared to tread is now almost completely managed by them.

The park has numerous campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic areas, and several restored structures. Rafting on the river is a popular pastime and the infamous Gates of LoDore launch is located on the east side for those who have permits to challenge the Rapids of LoDore. The Spanish called the river Rio San Buena Ventura, but we just know it as "The Green!"

PhotosView Slideshow

An Inside Man?
The route to Powder Springs is another scenic drive. It passes through wild-horse country, and seeing Mustangs in the distance is a common scene. Other kinds of wildlife easily found are hawks, rabbits, and coyotes. The drive to the top of Lookout Mountain offers views into three states on a clear day.

When Cassidy and his gang reached the Powder Springs hideout, they found only a few outlaws and a small herd of cattle. Old Man Bender had died earlier that year and a man named Collins was in charge.

According to The Rawlins Republican newspaper, Cassidy and his gang arrived in Baggs, Wyoming, on July 29. The sheriff was conveniently out of town at the time, but came across a Mexican who had a minor gunshot wound and was robbed by an outlaw. The two of them headed back to Baggs. No doubt, the sheriff set a casual pace because by the time he got there, the party was over.

Baggs had a lot of new bullet holes, mostly at Jack Ryan's Bull Dog Saloon. It is likely Ryan helped with a few of those holes since Cassidy paid him a gold coin for every hole he could find. According to the newspaper story, the outlaws spent about $800 before heading back to Powder Springs.

Jack Ryan sold his saloon and moved to Rawlins where he purchased a bigger bar near the railroad depot. Although nothing could be proved, Pinkerton detectives believed he was an inside man for the outlaws, feeding them information about the railroad and its cargos. What better place to learn about railroad activities than from those who worked it every day. After the Tipton train robbery, Ryan suddenly had a lot of cash and bought other businesses.

The Wild Bunch
Butch Cassidy became known as the leader of the Wild Bunch and the Train Robbers Syndicate. Powder Springs was thought to be his headquarters but it is not likely he spent much time there.

History records him working on a ranch in New Mexico and spending money in Texas. Cassidy liked to party and Powder Springs had nothing to offer along those lines. He found some entertainment in Brown's Hole, socialized with Ann Bassett and other ladies from the ranches, and participated in any picnics, dances, or games of chance (like horse races) that he could find.

Nowadays, nothing is left of the structures that were once scattered around Powder Springs. It is all grown up in weeds. We camped in a small clearing between the upper and lower springs. Coyotes sang us to sleep under a star-filled, crystal-clear Wyoming sky. Life just doesn't get much better than this.

PhotosView Slideshow


To begin this log, travel to Jarvie's Outpost in Brown's Park on the Utah side of the border with Colorado. Turn right from the parking lot and start at the intersection where the bridge crosses the river. Reset your trip meter anytime you see 0.0.

Trip Meter / Latitude (N) / Longitude (W) / Comments

0.0 / N40 54.0127 / W109 10.3318 / Continue straight. A right turn crosses the bridge to a campground and outhouse.
1.3 / N40 54.2370 / W109 8.7774 / Right turn.
8.2 / N40 51.7153 / W109 2.9436 / Colorado state line.
9.8 / N40 51.9563 / W109 0.9971 / Right on County Road 83 toward the swinging bridge.
12.3 / N40 49.8463 / W109 1.7010 / Turn left on Wildlife Drive. The swinging bridge is straight. There is also a campground near the bridge.

3.3 / N40 49.9627 / W108 58.0896 / Right on Wildlife Drive.
7.5 / N40 48.5577 / W108 54.7949 / Left turn. If you took the side trips, your mileage will be different.
8.4 / N40 48.9226 / W108 53.8171 / Right on paved road.

1.7 / N40 47.5187 / W108 52.9764 / Continue from here after visiting historic sites on the road to right.

1.4 / N40 46.6734 / W108 51.7563 / Left is the country store and RV park. They no longer have gas pumps. Continue from here when ready.

1.4 / N40 45.9142 / W108 50.3669 / Turn right on gravel road 34.
3.1 / N40 44.5952 / W108 49.6043 / Continue toward Greystone (left) from here when ready. Right goes to Gates of LoDore ranger station and campground.

4.4 / N40 42.6079 / W108 45.3826 / Right on county road 10.
10.7 / N40 38.2838 / W108 41.0556 / Turn left on county road 12.
16.0 / N40 39.6019 / W108 35.5393 / Turn right on paved highway 318.

1.7 / N40 38.9721 / W108 33.6180 / Left on graded County Road 46. This is a designated OHV route that travels through wild-horse country.

5.6 / N40 42.7603 / W108 31.1547 / After the gate, stay left.
6.2 / N40 43.1951 / W108 30.7572 / Right fork on county road 80.
12.2 / N40 44.3153 / W108 25.9038 / Turn left on the switchback road.
18.3 / N40 49.3395 / W108 27.1705 / Left on BLM 2058 toward Lookout Mountain.

1.7 / N40 50.3321 / W108 28,4779 / Right turn at this intersection.
3.5 / N40 51.4981 / W108 29.6848 / Right on 2058N to Lookout Mountain.
4.6 / N40 51.8438 / W108 29.0156 / At the top of the mountain, there are numerous towers. Continue straight when ready.

4.3 / N40 54.2702 / W108 25.1177 / Take the right fork on Road 67.
9.1 / N40 54.1077 / W108 20.1040 / Take the right fork and straight at the next intersection.
13.2 / N40 57.1412 / W108 18.6818 / This is the village of Powder Wash. It serves the oil business but not much there. Continue through town and straight across county road 4.

0.7 / N40 57.8327 / W108 18.5848 / Right fork, then left fork.
3.3 / N41 00.0000 / W108 18.0141 / This is the Wyoming state line.
0.5 / N41 0.4818 / W108 17.7382 / Turn right and stop at the wash. This is Lower Powder Springs. Continue across the wash on the bridge when ready. Take the left fork after bridge.
1.6 / N41 0.9364 / W108 16.7719 / Left fork.
3.1 / N41 1.7693 / W108 15.5009 / This is an easy road to miss. It is a faint two-track road going left. When it splits, take the right fork.
3.8 / N41 2.2668 / W108 15.9138 / Left turn.
4.3 / N41 2.0795 / W108 16.4756 / This is Upper Powder Springs.

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