Butch Cassidy, outlaw of the Old West made modern-day famous by the Paul Newman and Robert Redford flick “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” had his desperado dawning in Telluride.
Cassidy worked on a dairy farm, as a rancher, and eventually as a butcher in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he acquired his “Butch” nickname. A rogue’s life called to Cassidy stronger than common work.
Cassidy’s crooked path began on June 24, 1889, with a plan that wasn’t even his. Cassidy’s pal, Matt Warner, proposed robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride. Warner walked into the bank and shoved his gun to the nose hairs of a trembling bank teller. Cassidy bagged the available cash and Tom McCarty, Warner’s brother-in-law, watched the horses.
The take? Back then, it was a little over $20,000. In today’s terms? About $560,000. They would’ve gotten away free and clear if Cassidy hadn’t run into a rancher who knew him outside of town. The rancher told the inevitable posse who Cassidy was, thus cementing Butch Cassidy’s “wanted” status and criminal course.
The San Miguel Valley Bank burned down less than three years later. In its place, the Mahr building, 129/131 West Colorado Ave. in Telluride, was erected. Today, a commemorative plaque marks Cassidy’s first bank heist. You’ll know you’re close if you’re at the corner of Pine St. and Colorado Ave.
For more information on Butch Cassidy’s dastardly deeds, check out “The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” by Thom Hatch.
Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer