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Castlegate - The Getaway

Scenic View
Larry E. Heck | Writer
Posted March 1, 2011

Part V: Saddlebags Full Of Gold Coins

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!"

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