My Revolving Point, Texas series features three outlaws turning to the right side of the law as heroes. One of those outlaws, Buck Grayson, was a secondary character in two of my Weston Family Series books. In every story, I mention my outlaws having traveled and slept along Outlaw trail. Which got me to thinking—where was Outlaw Trail? When did it exist? Could my outlaws have actually traveled the trail? Or had I taken liberty with history?
Using the internet, I found Outlaw Trail stretched from Canada to Mexico, winding its way from Montana through Wyoming, Utah and Colorado into Texas. The earliest references I could find pertaining to the trail (and there weren’t many) were from the late 1850’s to early 1860’s. Cattle rustlers would herd stolen cows to secluded areas along the trail, change their brands and raise them and then herd them again to Canada or Mexico for sale. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid made the trail famous in the 1880’s and 1890’s, with places such as Robber’s Roost, which is in southeastern Utah.
The internet is filled with many interesting facts about Outlaw Trail, most pertaining to when Butch and Sundance hid there. Robbers Roost and other hideouts were not easy access. Nestled in secluded canyons, or on top of mesas, one had to know the exact trail to take to get to these hideouts, and always there were look-out men stationed to warn of strangers approaching. Even today, one cannot reach many of these places by car. There is a lot of hiking involved. It’s recommended a person be in tip-top shape, or have a horse well trained and sure footed to scaling canyon walls.
Did I prove my outlaws could have traveled Outlaw Trail? Maybe. Both series take place in the early 1860’s. From what I learned, there were no maps of the trail back then. Word of mouth was the way to navigate the trail. In the back of my mind, the trail had to be in existence and traversed in the 1860’s. Maybe not as frequently, or as popular as when Butch and Sundance traveled it, but it just didn’t spring up in the 1880’s for Butch and Sundance to make their getaways and hide. I like to think that my Buck did know about this trail, and used it. After all, according to his reputation, he is one of the most feared outlaws this side of the Mississippi, with the law trying to track him. He would’ve been stupid not to have used the trail. And Buck is anything but stupid. Neither are Roth and Gage.