Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Butch Cassidy's Lost Treasure Cache

(Butch's mugshot from his stint in the Wyoming Territorial Prison, 1894.)

$20,000 in Gold and Silver

Butch Cassidy (born Robert Leroy Parker) and his infamous "Hole-in-the-Wall" Gang of outlaws, thieves, and desperadoes are well known when it comes to the history of the Old West. What's not as well known, however, is the fact that nearly $20,000 of Butch's ill-gotten gains still lays buried in the form of silver and gold coin in northwestern Colorado awaiting recovery.

On June 24, 1889 Butch and the boys (including Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. the "Sundance Kid") rode into Telluride, Colorado and robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank of over $21,000. Although a small amount of this score was in greenbacks, the bulk of the loot was in the form of gold and silver coins, including a large amount of shiny new silver dollars.

Treasure Cache in Irish Canyon

After the robbery Butch and the boys hightailed it for one of their favorite stop-over spots in northwestern Colorado, a remote hideout called Irish Canyon. Here the members of the gang rested up, fed and watered their horses, and anxiously awaited their individual shares of the loot. Among those present (aside from Butch and Sundance) were George Currie, "Bub" Meeks, Elzy Lay, and Dick Maxwell.

 (The BLM's Irish Canyon campground...if you hunt here, do it on the sly.)

Dick Maxwell, who was the acting lookout at the time, put a damper on the proceedings by announcing the presence of a hard-riding posse in the distance. Unable to take the time necessary to "divvy up" the loot in equal shares, Butch ordered the boys to grab whatever coins and cash they could easily carry and bury the rest of the gold and silver nearby. Afterwards, the gang lit out for their main hideout, the famous "Robber's Roost" in southeastern Utah.

Butch and Sundance Meet Their Fate

As far as can be determined from first-hand and historical accounts, Butch and the boys never returned to Irish Canyon to retrieve the gold and silver buried there. Butch purchased a ranch (as cover for his outlaw activities?) in Wyoming near the famous "Hole-in-the-Wall" geological formation and became embroiled in a territorial "protection" racket as well as horse thievery.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

In 1894 Butch was arrested and sent to the Wyoming Territorial Prison for 18 months which pretty much broke up the "Hole-in-the-Wall" gang for good. Of course, later on Butch and Sundance formed the "Wild Bunch" gang which committed more serious robberies and depredations than the "Hole-in-the-Wall" boys ever dreamed of. Eventually, Butch and Sundance ended up in South America where they met their fate when both were gunned down in Bolivia by pursuing police.

Bring a Good Metal Detector

That's the gist of it. So if you're seriously interested in this lost treasure tale you may want to head for Moffat County, Colorado. Who knows, you may be the lucky treasure hunter who locates and retrieves Butch Cassidy's Lost Cache in Irish Canyon.

Make sure you bring along a good metal detector or "two boxer" though, because nearly $20,000 in buried silver dollars and gold coins should give off quite a signal indeed. Oh, and do your hunting on the sly...much of the area is under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Good hunting to you!

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Following the 'Owl-Hoot' Trail: Karl Von Mueller"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012

Questions? E-mail me at