Hole-in-the-Wall to Red Lodge, Montana
On June 28, 1897, the 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. Long before the 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 a threat. Most of all, no matter how hard they tried, neither one could plan a successful robbery.
Harry Longabaugh first became known as the Sundance Kid after spending time in the jail located in Sundance, Wyoming. He had been convicted of stealing a horse and saddle. We have visited with some of the local ranchers in that area. It seems the stories passed down to them from their grandfathers tended to suggest the Sundance Kid was framed by the people he worked for at the VVV Ranch. In any case, after being released from jail, the Sundance Kid wasted no time continuing a life of crime.
The Belle Fourche Bank was only a short distance from the VVV Ranch and may have been targeted simply because Sundance was familiar with the town. Tom O'Day was sent into Belle Fourche the night before the holdup for the purpose of checking out the vulnerability of the bank and was expected to report back to the rest of the gang. Unfortunately, Tom stopped at the saloon, drank a little too much, and passed out. When Tom did not return, the decision was made to hit the bank anyway. The rest of the gang rode into town and entered the bank early the next morning. They quickly realized they had arrived too early.
The safe was on a timer and that time had not arrived. Then, someone outside the bank noticed the robbers. Shooting began and the outlaws were forced to make a run for it. Tom came wobbling out of his sleeping spot but was still too drunk to get on his horse. The others left him behind and headed for Hole-in-the-Wall. 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. Word was out: They were organizing a posse to clean it out.
While the outlaws were deciding which way to run, a friend came by to warn them of another problem. Apparently, Tom O'Day had been captured in Belle Fourche and had told the lawmen who the rest of the gang was and where they could be found. The outlaws decided they needed money, and a good place to get it would be to make a withdrawal at the bank in Red Lodge, Montana. They camped outside of town to plan the heist. The Sundance Kid and Kid Curry rode into town to get the layout. Unfortunately, the telegraph wires had been busy notifying lawmen about the Belle Fourche robbery and included descriptions of the men involved. They were immediately recognized and rode out of town with a posse close behind.