Friday, February 1, 2013

The Wild Bunch at Robbers Roost

Ron Scheer just ran a fine review of the movie, The Wild Bunch (1969), which is here:, dated Tuesday, January 29, 2013. I saw that movie in 1969 or 1970 when I was stationed in Japan and thought it was a rip-roaring, horse-snortin', shoot 'em up, which I considered to be one of the finest Westerns I had seen.

This post today, though, has nothing to do with the movie, since it is my thoughts of the book entitled The Wild Bunch at Robbers Roost, by Pearl Baker. Pearl Baker lived in the area of the Robber's Roost and her family knew many of the residents of the Roost (I've heard this place called Rustler's Roost, also). In fact, as the back cover-fold says: "She [Mrs. Baker] is particularly suited to the subject in this book since her family's ranch, where she was taken two years after she was born, was right in the heart of the Robbers Roost country. The Roost was part of the ranch, in fact, and the Wild Bunch had departed only a short time before as the West became civilized."

The book starts off with a description of the country and then gets into the stories of the criminals that lived there off and on, like Elzy Lay, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid (Harvey Longabaugh), Orion "Kid" Curry (or Harvey Logan at times), "Flat Nose" George Curry, Gunplay Maxwell, Peep O'Day, Sliver Tip, and Indian Ed to name a few of the robbers who lived at or passed through the Roost on their way to Telluride or a stage robbery or a bank holdup in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana or Nevada.  

This book is the "completely revised and certain new material added by the author" version published in 1971. Robbers Roost is located in the area where the Green River runs into the Colorado River southeast of Moab, Utah, above the Dirty Devil River. Each chapter of the book takes two or three characters and tells their story of cattle and horse rustling, stage coach and train robberies, and some bank holdups, posse chases, etc. I mention posses because my Uncle Oscar Beebe (a deputy sheriff in Price) is mentioned as a member of the one of the posses on the trail of Joe Walker where many shots were fired when they thought they had him cornered but no one was hit. Pearl Baker remarks about this marksmanship, saying they had no intention of hitting anyone. Butch Cassidy, the leader of the Wild Bunch, never killed anybody and lived a fairly long life.

About Butch Cassidy, the author states that he returned to the U.S. from South America and died in 1936 or 1937 in the northwest. She cites the family of Butch and a couple other sources regarding this.

I found the stories of the individuals to be fascinating, but some of them were killed too early.

The book was first published in 1965 and Sam Peckinpah may have gotten the idea for the movie from it, but I have no knowledge of that, although some members of the Wild Bunch went to Mexico for one reason or another.

The front cover:




  1. I have read this one and done a ton of research on the Wild Bunch. Even been to the site of two of their train hold ups. Taught for many years in Laramie where Butch was in prison. Glad they didn't keep me there when I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison. Great post, one of my favorite subjects.

    1. Thanks, Neil. A lot of history in Wyoming not only of the Wild Bunch, but other Western happenings like the Johnson County War, The Mormon Trail, Jim Bridger, Buffalo Bill and his shows, and etc.

  2. It's funny, looking at pics of Butch and Sundance, they certainly don't look like the characters we see in the movie.

    1. Not at all, the movie characters are picked for their good looks.