Monday, July 27, 2015

Outlaw Trails and Hideouts

by Linda Farmer Harris

Since the January 2013 launch of Christian Fiction Historical Society, now Heroes, Heroines and History, several writers have posted about robbers, thieves, and outlaws. 

Most recently, Nancy J. Farrier blogged about "Billy the Kid" —

Ramona K. Cecil wrote about the "First Train Robbery & The Reno Gang" —

It was fascinating reading about the people, but I wondered where they went after the shoot 'em-up, bang, bang was over.

What's the first old West hideout that comes to your mind? 

One of the best-known is Robbers Roost in southwest Utah. This hideout was home to Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. There were only five women known to have been allowed inside Robbers Roost: Laura Bullion, Maude Davis, Etta Place, Ann Bassett, and Josie Bassett.
Upper Robbers Roost Canyon, aerial photo by Doc Searls
Robbers Roost Plat Map

Did you name Hole-in-the-Wall? Surrounded by imposing rock formations, there are few entrances to this remote pass in the Big Horn Mountains of Johnson County, Wyoming.
Hole in the Wall, Wyoming
Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, Black Jack Ketchum, Kid Curry, the Sundance Kid, and the Hole In the Wall Gang are among the outlaws who used this hideout. Cassidy and Sundance really got around!
The Hole in the Wall is actually a pass
Robbers Roost and Hole-in-the-Wall were remote, secluded, and easily defended. Both places made it impossible for lawmen or anyone to approach without alerting the outlaws.

I'm a fan of Brown's Hole, now known as Brown's Park, located in Colorado on the border with Utah. It's also an isolated mountain valley along the Green River in Moffat County, Colorado and Daggett County, Utah.
Entrance to Brown's Hole
Brown's Hole was the birthplace of Ann Bassett, romantically involved with Butch Cassidy and Ben Kilpatrick. She is also the alleged girlfriend of Sundance Kid. Her occupations were western rancher and cattle rustler. Rustlin's one way to stock a ranch!

Initially considered a favorite wintering place for Shoshoni and Ute tribes, it became a frequented by fur trappers and mountain men including Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Joe Meeks, and Jack Robinson.

By the 1860's Brown's Hole became a haven for outlaws, horse thieves, and cattle rustlers. It's interesting to note that the Brown's Hole code of ethics allowed for most "outlaw deed" except murder.

Ann Swinger wrote in her book Run, River, Run: A Naturalist's Journey Down One of the Great Rivers of the West (New York, 1975, p. 141), that Brown's Hole was "a more or less permanent hideout for many who found total honesty a personal encumbrance."

Part of the charm of this area is little has changed from those wild west frontier days. However, I'm confident you'll see more fishing rods than six guns should you have the opportunity to visit Brown's Hole.

If you were a desperado, where would you hide? 

Does your state have any famous outlaw hideouts?


Linda (Lin) Farmer Harris
Lin and her husband live on a ranch in Chimney Rock, Colorado. She writes historical fiction for adults and children. Her enjoyment of genealogy and family history adds unique elements to her stories.



  1. I live in Colorado also (Denver), and I didn't know about any of these hideouts! I guess I wouldn't make a good desperado! I was always amazed at the number of canyons in Utah. If you drive along that stretch of road on I-70, there's nothing out there-- except canyons. Very desolate.

  2. Hi Donna, thanks for stopping by. Colorado has some places that if you took two steps in the wrong direction you'd be invisible to anyone searching for you. Desolate is an apt description.

  3. I had heard about Hole in the Wall hideout but not seen it. I live in CA and there must be some here but I don't know them. Maybe in Death Valley NP or Eastern San Diego County along one of the Pioneer trails. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. Hi Sharon, thanks for reminding me of Death Valley. I'll have to research that area and see if they have any desperado hideouts.

  5. My favorite hideout is Fens Hollow.

  6. Hey, my favorite outlaw, so good to see you cruising HH&H. Fens Hollow is a great hideout. Colorado is terrific, too.