Outlaws and Steamboat Springs

Everybody has a favorite movie growing up. In Routt County, I think we each hold one particularly close to our hearts due to its relation to our area’s rich history. That movie is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

While a majority of the movie was filmed a bit south of us, Butch Cassidy and Sundance were outlaws up in Brown’s Park, about two hours to the west of Steamboat at the Utah border. This is where they started the Hole in the Wall gang and began their robbing spree.

Steamboat now may seem like a peaceful place, but in the early 19th century it saw its fair share of outlaws. Most deadly was Harry Tracy. Tracy was a member of the Hole in the Wall Gang, where he successfully completed many robberies before becoming  notorious within Northwest Colorado. When evading capture in Brown’s Park, he killed Valentine Hoy, a member of the posse that chased him. Tracy was placed in the Steamboat Springs jail before his eventual escape, after which he continued on his crime spree.

Pictured above: Harry Tracy at the Tread of Pioneers Museum

Another area of interest in Steamboat is the Brooklyn neighborhood. While today it is a lovely neighborhood by the river, it used to be known as the Red Light District in Steamboat. Before national Prohibition, Steamboat Springs banned the use and sale of alcohol. That simply did not fly in the Brooklyn neighborhood, where several saloons sprung up in retaliation.

To learn more about this era in Steamboat’s history, head to the Tread of Pioneers Museum, or if you have a little more time, drive to the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig. If you are there ask them about Ann Bassett, as she is one of the coolest people to have lived in Northwest Colorado. Ann Bassett was a rancher near Craig. When a famous cattle baron hired a mercenary to kill one of her family friends and her fiancee, Bassett responded by rustling their cattle until the baron was practically run out of town. The Museum of Northwest Colorado has more on her story, as well as a collection of artifacts from that time.

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