A fter living a life of crime in the Wild West of the United States, both Butch Cassidy and his sidekick, the Sundance Kid, escaped to South America. Today, it is possible to visit their old cabin near Cholila in the province of Chubut. But the story of Butch Cassidy in Argentina is about much more than a cabin in the woods.
BUTCH CASSIDY IN THE USA
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Butch Cassidy was born Robert Leroy Parker on April 13, 1866. He is famous for his armed robberies of banks and trains in the western United States during the late 1890’s. His accomplice was Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid because his first robbery and arrest took place in Sundance, Wyoming. For those wanting to learn more, the 1969 movie with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, tells the classic story though it fails to even mention Argentina.
Butch Cassidy became so well known for multiple robberies in multiple states that the Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired to track them down. They placed wanted posters throughout the West using a photo that Cassidy had taken while in Fort Worth, Texas. After a spectacular train robbery of more than $60,000 near Wagner, Montana, Cassidy and Sundance decided it was time to leave the United States. With Sundance’s girlfriend, Etta Place, they embarked on a British Steamer out of New York City on February 20, 1901 and arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina a few weeks later.
Butch Cassidy in Argentina
The three settled in a small set of cabins in the Lake District of Patagonia. The buildings were restored in 2007. In all truth, there isn’t much to see. But if you grew up watching re-runs of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on television and your dad had a love of all things Western, then there is an allure to walking in the footsteps of these famous gangster
We know that Cassidy was at first content to make an honest living in Cholila. He wrote to a friend back in Utah:
“… I liked this part of the world so much I think I’ve settled down for good. I own 300 heads of cattle, 1500 heads of sheep and 28 riding horses. I have 2 helpers, a nice four room house, barns, a stable and a henhouse… the only thing I need is a cook, since I am still unpleasantly single and many times feel lonely…”
Butch Cassidy in Bolivia
In the end, Etta ended up in California, far away from the robberies taking place in the Wild West of South America. Cassidy and Sundance headed for Bolivia and worked for the Concordia Tin Mine, ironically guarding the payroll. But their honest jobs didn’t last long. Rumor has it that both Cassidy and Sundance were part of a robbery near San Vicente, Bolivia. Their luck ran out, however, and the Bolivian Army cornered them in a small cabin. A gun fight ensued. A soldier died. Screaming was heard inside the cabin. A single shot was fired and the screaming stopped. Another shot followed. Only then were the soldiers able to enter the building. They found both men dead, one shot in the forehead, the other in the temple.
The bodies were buried in unmarked graves. And attempts to identify the remains have been unsuccessful.
Today, there are still legends that Butch Cassidy survived South America and in fact, might have returned to the Wild West of his origins. But the book that surfaced with the story is under question. Some think it is a wild exaggeration while others think it is an autobiography written under pseudonym by Cassidy himself.
Either way, we know the cabin in the Lake District was really his. If you want to explore a little Wild West History in South America, it’s worth a stop. At the very least, if you happen to be in the town of Trelew, look for a coffee shop/restaurant at the Hotel Touring Club. Inside, you will find an old time bar and tons of Butch Cassidy memorabilia.
Butch Cassidy Ranch
Information For Your Trip
A new phone number has been added to online map markers implying that tours can be arranged – +54-2945-49-8040.
Arrive with your own water and food; plan on spending an hour touring the site, more if you plan on hiking or taking lots of photographs.
- Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Cholila Ranch (El Rancho de Butch Cassidy), Cushamen, Chubut.