Hole in the Wall Gang
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|Founding location||Hole-in-the-Wall, Big Horn Mountains, Johnson County, Wyoming|
|Criminal activities||Horse and cattle theft, stagecoach and highway robbery, store and bank robbery|
The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang was not simply one large organized gang of outlaws, but rather was made up of several separate gangs, all operating out of the Hole-in-the-Wall Pass, using it as their base of operations. The gangs formed a coalition, each planning and carrying out its own robberies with very little interaction with the other gangs. At times, members of one gang would ride along with other gangs, but usually each gang operated separately, meeting up only when they were each at the hideout at the same time.
Geographically, the hideout had all the advantages needed for a gang attempting to evade the authorities. It was easily defended and impossible for lawmen to access without detection by the outlaws concealed there. It contained an infrastructure, with each gang supplying its own food and livestock, as well as its own horses. A corral, livery stable, and numerous cabins were constructed, one or two for each gang. Anyone operating out of there adhered to certain rules of the camp, to include a certain way in handling disputes with other gang members, and never stealing from another gang's supplies. There was no leader with each gang adhering to its own chain of command. The hideout was also used for shelter and a place for the outlaws to lay up during the harsh Wyoming winters.
Members of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang included such infamous desperadoes as Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch (which consisted of Butch Cassidy (aka Robert Leroy Parker), the Sundance Kid (aka Harry A. Longabaugh), Elzy Lay, Tall Texan, News Carver, Camilla "Deaf Charlie" Hanks, Laura Bullion, George "Flat Nose" Curry, Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan, Bob Meeks, Kid Curry's brother Lonny Curry, Bob Smith, Al Smith, Bob Taylor, Tom O'Day, "Laughing" Sam Carey, Black Jack Ketchum, and the Roberts Brothers, along with several lesser known outlaw gangs of the Old West. Jesse James was also mentioned to have visited the Hole-in-the-Wall hideout.
Several posses trailed outlaws to the location, and there were several shootouts as posses attempted to enter, all resulting in the posses being repulsed, and being forced to withdraw. No lawmen ever successfully entered it to capture outlaws during its more than fifty years of active existence, nor were any lawmen attempting to infiltrate it by use of undercover techniques successful.
The encampment operated with a steady stream of outlaw gangs rotating in and out, from the late 1860s to the early 20th century. However, by 1910, very few outlaws used the hideout, and it eventually faded into history. One of the cabins used by Butch Cassidy still exists today, and it was relocated to Cody, Wyoming, where it is on public display.
In popular culture
The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang was featured in various works of culture:
- The Three Outlaws, starring Neville Brand as Butch Cassidy and Alan Hale Jr as the Sundance Kid, is a 1956 fiction film which depicts the duo's exploits with Wild Bunch member William "News" Carver as the third outlaw in the title.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, is a 1969 fiction film of the duo's exploits.
- "Cat Ballou", a 1965 comedy western starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin, shows a remnant of aged gang members in 1894 who eject Cat (Fonda) from Hole-in-the-Wall after she and her gang rob a train and remove the protection they enjoyed from the law.
- Kelly, Charles; Anne Meadows; Dan Buck (1996). The Outlaw Trail: A History of Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch. U of Nebraska Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-8032-7778-4. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Gulick, Bill (1999). Manhunt: The Pursuit of Harry Tracy. Caxton Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-87004-392-7. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Patterson, Richard M. (1998). Butch Cassidy: A Biography. U of Nebraska Press. p. 146. ISBN 0-8032-8756-9. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Horan, James D.; Jim Dullenty (1997). Desperate Men: The James Gang and the Wild Bunch. U of Nebraska Press. p. 215. ISBN 0-8032-7307-X. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Eckhardt, C. F. (1999). Tales of Badmen, Bad Women, and Bad Places: Four Centuries of Texas. Texas Tech University Press. p. 141. ISBN 0-89672-420-4. Retrieved 2008-03-23.