Butch Cassidy in Browns Park
The notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang spent considerable time in the Flaming Gorge area. In particular, they hid out in a place called Browns Park, along the Green River near the Utah/Colorado border.
The gang looked for out-of-the-way places, where access was not easy, and Browns Park fit the bill well. A prominent area rancher, Herb Bassett, did business with the outlaws, providing them with horses, food and a safe haven. Herb's daughters, Josie and Ann, became romantically involved with the men. Ann became Cassidy's girlfriend and often rode with him, and joined him when he hid from the law in places like "Robbers Roost." She was reportedly one of only five women ever allowed to enter that famous outlaw hideout.
The sisters eventually took over their father's ranch and worked it for many years. At that time, it was said that the only law in Browns Park was that of the fastest gun. Cattle barons sometimes fought with each other, sometimes rustled each other's cattle as they struggled to establish dominance. For a time, cattlemen tried to convince the Bassett girls to sell. Butch and his gang apparently provided protection for the girls and the cattlemen never dared apply too much pressure.
Ann became known as "Queen Ann Bassett" and was one of the most prominent female ranchers of the Old West.
The Wild Bunch gang occasionally rustled cattle, and sometimes hid the animals in Browns Park. As their "careers" evolved, they put together the longest string of successful bank and train robberies in the history of the American West.
Today, visitors to Browns Park can see artifacts from historic area ranches, but there is little physical evidence of the outlaw connection. Perhaps the most obvious are the marked graves along the Green River. Some gravestones carry names of known outlaws.
Today Browns Park offers beautiful scenery in a tranquil setting. It is easy to see how it came to be a safe haven for outlaws.
Historic Jarvie Ranch
At a nearby historic ranch, the John Jarvie Ranch, you can gain many insights into turn-of-the-century frontier life in Brown's Park.
Here you will find a small museum with displays and a video showcasing the history of the ranch and the Browns Park area.
You can also see an old stone house, a one-room, rectangular building built by outlaw Jack Bennett, using masonry skills he learned in prison.
You can duck inside the two-room dugout where John and his wife Nellie first lived. It is built into a hillside with a south-facing entrance overlooking the Green River. You can stroll over to the blacksmith shop and corral, which were constructed using hand-hewn railroad ties that drifted down from Green River, Wyoming, during high water.
Finally, you can see the general store where Mr. Jarvie sold goods. The building is a replica of the original, which was built in 1881. It is furnished with many artifacts from the Jarvie period, including the original safe.
On Tuesday, July 6, 1909, John was robbed, murdered, and his store ransacked by two transient workers from Rock Springs, Wyoming. After they killed him, they placed his body in a boat and pushed it into the Green River. His murderers were never captured.
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