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The Montpelier Bank Robbery Part 1

Valley
Larry E. Heck | Writer
Posted July 1, 2012

The Powder Springs Hideout

Butch Cassidy was at his hideout in Powder Springs, Wyoming, when he received a handwritten note from his long-time friend, Matt Warner. The note read, "Butch, we're goners if we don't get some money quick to hire lawyers." (We got that quote from a book titled, The Last of the Bandit Riders, narrated by Matt Warner).

Matt and Butch originally became friends in Telluride, Colorado, and robbed a bank there in 1889. In 1896, Matt was involved in a gunfight in Brown's Hole, Colorado. According to his version of the story, three gunfighters ambushed him. During the ensuing gunfight, Matt killed all three of them. Thinking he was safe under his plea of self-defense, he made no effort to escape. Unfortunately for him, the three men were better liked by the local population and Matt was arrested for murder. He was facing a hangman's noose when he sent that note to Butch Cassidy.

Getting money for his friend's defense was no problem for Cassidy. He would simply make a withdrawal from the bank in Montpellier, Idaho. Of course he did not have an account there, so he had to make that withdrawal by force.

The Springs
Powder Springs, Wyoming, is located a short distance north of the border between Colorado and Wyoming. The closest settlement to that location today is Powder Wash, Colorado, which consists of a few buildings used by those who work in the local oil fields. There are no public services of any kind.

When Cassidy and the Wild Bunch used Powder Springs as their headquarters, it consisted of numerous tents and a few poorly constructed cabins and dugouts. Nothing is left of those structures today. There are two natural springs seeping out of the ground that form nasty looking pockets of water that have no appeal for use by modern travelers. Cattle and local wildlife seem to think the water is fine.

Lone Writer and Happy Jack have spent several nights in the area over the years. Access to the springs consists of two-track trails that are kept active by local ranchers. The location is miles from anything modern and still retains that feeling of isolation that existed in the days when outlaws called it home. The only nighttime light comes from the crackling embers of a campfire and millions of twinkling stars, along with an occasional moon.

Powder Springs provides its own Wild West brand of entertainment. A somewhat noisy band of coyotes sing a soothing chorus when the setting sun disappears. Once the campfire is out, they circle the area around the camp as if curious about the uninvited visitors in their hunting grounds. Owls and hawks spend the night prowling the skies for a chance to dive down for a tasty snack consisting mostly of rodents. Bats can be seen high above the campfire, chowing down on insects attracted by the light.

The grassy rolling hills around Powder Springs are public lands managed by the BLM. Oil pumps and storage tanks are scattered through the area by those who work to provide us with the fuel to explore lands such as these. Some roads have a solid dusty base that were built to support heavy oil trucks and others are just two track paths with grass growing in the middle.

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