Butch Cassidy and the Castle Gate Robbery
Robbers Roost and the Wild Butch Gang
Documented by Timothy Draper
Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch
On April 21, 1897, the famous outlaw bank robber, Butch Cassidy, left the now-famous hideout of the Wild Bunch called Robbers Roost. They had set out rob the payroll from a mining company near Castle Gate, Utah. The Wild Bunch spent many months preparing to rob the train payroll in Castle Gate. It is known still today to have been one of the boldest robberies in broad daylight.
According to an article on Legends of America written by Kathy Weiser, she explains, “The train from Salt Lake City coasted into Castle Gate carrying the payroll for the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. Shortly before the train arrived, a lone cowboy had hitched his horse in front of the saloon and sat inside waiting for the sound of the train whistle. When he heard it, he left the saloon and made his way down to the train. As the lone cowboy sat watching, another cowboy was loitering near the stairway of the company office.
As the baggage was unloaded from the train, three men including the company paymaster and two guards, gathered the payroll that consisted of three bags estimated at roughly $7,000. They then emerged from the baggage room and headed to the company office some 75 yards away. However, before they reached the office, the lone cowboy held the three at gunpoint, taking the largest bag from the paymaster. In the meantime, the other man also approached, relieving them of another bag. In broad daylight, the two men had stolen the company payroll, with only one person attempting to interfere. When a customer at a nearby store tried to interlude, he was met with a gun.”
We can assume that the miners and the townspeople would have been furious to hear that their wages were being taken from them right in front of their eyes, but the cowboys were too quick and clever, and the townspeople were caught off guard. Kathy Weiser then goes on to explain, “The two cowboys, now known to have been Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay, got on their horses and rode south, pursued by two citizens, one in a buggy and the other on horseback shouting, “Bring that money back!” But it was too late, the pair were long gone.
Attempts were made to reach the sheriff by telephone, but they soon realized that the phone lines had been cut. Cassidy and Lay fled to Robbers Roost, cutting telegraph lines along the trail to prevent the news of the robbery from spreading to lawmen along their escape route.” This made it impossible for anyone to communicate, and Butch Cassidy and his team were able to escape the area.
Butch and the Wild Bunch had a long journey ahead of them to make it to their known hideout; Robbers Roost. They used horses as a relay race, trading them out one by one as the horses became tired. By doing this, they were able to stay ahead of the mob that was hunting them down. The posse had a hard time tracking the Wild Bunch on the trails because Butch and his gang were smart. They didn’t use horseshoes on their horses, so when horse tracks were found, they were hard to decipher because they looked like they could’ve been wild horse tracks in the wilderness.
Even today, many people feel that the payroll was never found and that Butch Cassidy’s team hid it in the Robbers Roost area for safekeeping. Because of the trouble they had brought onto themselves, the group spread out months later and were found separated all over the Western states. Some even say that Butch Cassidy headed down to South America, but that’s a whole different story. This is about the Castle Gate Robbery.
The Castle gate Payroll Robbery Treasure
Worth around $250,000 today
The Castle Gate Robbery treasure consisted of $7,000 in gold. Silver was present, but it was tossed to the side by the Wild Bunch due to the value being much less than gold and it was heavy. This robbery was done in broad daylight and making a quick getaway was key. In order to leave town, Butch Cassidy had to make it through the crowd of workers that happened to be waiting for the train to arrive with their paychecks.
The townspeople were furious to hear that Butch and his gang were making off with their hard-earned gold and paychecks. The gang successfully got out of town, but the people had formed a mob to go after them and were not far behind. Unfortunately, the Outlaws soon disappeared into the deserts of Southern Utah, and the gold was never reported to have been found.
Treasures in America’s Involvement
In 2017, Treasures in America was contacted by a producer out of New York City about the story of Butch Cassidy and the Castle Gate Robbery. They asked if we were willing to take on the job of assisting the famous wrestler, Chris Jericho out in the desert to look for the treasure on camera for the Travel Channel. We accepted the job and started to make plans and preparations to ensure that we understood the history behind the story. We worked hard to give ourselves every opportunity to make a discovery. Timothy Draper (Founder of Treasures in America) spent a couple of months on the phone with the producers, assembling a team that could go deep into the wilderness looking for a quarter of a million dollars in today’s value.
Many emails, phone conversations, and team meetings were held, along with consistent studying and researching the history of this story over a period of about four months. The producers and the TIA team reached out to many people in Utah and surrounding states to gain knowledge from others. This is a normal process that Treasures in America does, knowledge is key in historical treasure hunting. We had help from a few Utah authors and we reached out to many known locals. At that point, we decided to go out on a scouting mission so we could become familiar with the area.
We arrived at Goblin Valley very late on Friday night. It was a little difficult to look for a big, flat, campsite in the dark but we managed and began setting up camp. After a couple of hours, we sat around the fire and mapped out our weekend. The next morning, we hopped in the UTVs and explored the area, looking for any clues we could find of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.
During our research, we had learned that there could be a second, well-hidden Robbers Roost roughly 120 miles away from the known one. When we heard of this possibility, we were very curious and determined to investigate. We were given a map, but after traveling down the dirt road for many miles, the road became quite narrow and rough. We gave it all we could, but it became impassible, even in the Polaris Ranger. It was clear that there had been some mining activity in the area, most likely from the late 1800s.
To this day I wonder if that area needs to be scouted out more because one thing that I’ve learned is that if it’s too hard to get to, most people give up. That means there could be more of a chance for a discovery to be made in that area. It was decided that this second hideout would take more prepping for us to investigate and would have to be explored on another trip. We ended up traveling over 120 miles of dirt road that weekend getting familiar with the area. With the producer and filming crew depending on us to take them into the Canyonlands, we wanted to be as familiar with the area as we could, but we eventually decided to call it a day.
Basecamp at Goblin Valley, Utah
When we returned to basecamp, we found our camp in distress. The picture above was how it looked when we left that morning, but when we got back, the wind had rolled our tents into the hill and our sleeping bags and clothes were spread out all over the place. It was a mess, but we quickly cleaned up, gathered our belongings, and reset the tents so we could enjoy our dinner and share our stories for the rest of the night.
Overall, we did what we had come to do, we learned the area, narrowed down some possibilities, and had a pretty good idea in which direction to go hunt down Butch Cassidy’s treasure of gold. At the end of our trip, we collected the information we needed to take back with us to make plans and report back to the producers of our journey. In many ways, we weren’t just the treasure hunters in this situation, but we were also the filming and producers guide into the Canyonlands and into Robbers Roost. We weren’t just doing this for us this time, there were a lot of people depending on us and we felt good about the knowledge we had obtained during this trip. It was time to pack up our things and head back home…
Filming for the Travel Channel
The Legend of… with Chris Jericho Season 1 Episode 1
2 Months After the Scouting Trip
Filming day was finally here. The TIA team, along with about 20 filming crew members arrived at Green River to start our 3-day long journey. The whole team was able to make it to this event, (who would miss out on an opportunity to film for the Travel Channel with Chris Jericho?) There was Timothy Draper, LeeAnn Draper, Stephen Shaffer, Shaun Fotheringham, Antonio Mendez, David Graham, Todd Andersen, & Ryan Moreau. We were all excited about what was coming and even more excited to see what treasures lied ahead. The team gathered all the best equipment we could; there were two DJI drones, laptops and tablets, Minelab detectors like the CTX 3030 and the Minelab SDC 2300. We brought our maps and GPS’s and the UTV’s. Yes, the team figured we would have everything we needed to make a great discovery.
Bright and early the next morning, Chris Jericho asked Timothy Draper & Stephen Shaffer to be guests on his well-known podcast, Talk Is Jericho. The session went really well, full of all kinds of treasure knowledge, sites, and shared stories of history all over America. After the podcast, everyone quickly loaded up the cars and we headed out to the desert to film and search for Butch Cassidy’s Loot.
The first day was surrounded by looking for clues of where Butch and the Wild Bunch may have hidden the loot. The best way to look for clues is to find what’s been left behind. We knew that there was a Butch Cassidy inscription that had been written on a rock in an overhang along a dry creek. This was a good place to start, so we did what we always do, got our equipment and set out to see what we could find.
Within a couple of hours, we found a canyon and dry river bed that was similar to the description that was given to us by someone a couple of months ago. We hopped out of our UTV’s, spread out, and started hiking around to see if we could find Butch’s name. It didn’t take too long and Ryan and Chris yelled out to the rest of the team saying, “Over here. We found it.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was standing at the same location that Butch stood while leaving his name on a rock with axle grease. It did look old to me, which made me even more excited because that was the proof I needed to tell me that we were on the right path. We were following Butch’s breadcrumbs.
Now that we were on the right path, we traveled nearly 70 miles down a dirt road in the UTV’s, we finally found the area that was hiding the famous Robbers Roost. Even when we were on top of the canyon, we couldn’t see the old ruins. It was a well-hidden hideout. There was an old narrow dirt road that took us down into the tight canyon, and that’s where we saw the ruins for the first time.
To my surprise, all that remained of the ruins was this old chimney and very faint remnants of the foundation of the cabin. I had actually expected more of the structure to be standing than what we found, and it made me wonder if this was because it was not built sound, or maybe it was from visitors that had come before us that had come and destroyed the structure looking for artifacts and possibly even the treasure. We decided to take a good look around searching for evidence or belongings from the Wild Bunch. Unfortunately, all we found in the area of the chimney ruins was modern-day garbage, scattered about the area. Not too far from this location, we found a corral that Butch and his gang used for their horses which you can see in the video link below.
The Final Journey
By finding Butch Cassidy’s name a few miles away from our destination, we now felt like we had evidence that the chimney ruins we had found, were in fact, the famous Robbers Roost. This led us to believe that we were closing in on the buried loot that has been hidden for so many years. Using the metal detectors, we were able to find a few old bullets that could match the time period of the early 1900s. We found a couple of horseshoes in the area of the Roost’s corral and Chris Jericho was lucky enough to find a silver coin from the late 1800s. Man, what a find that was!
Regrettably, we didn’t find the loot this time, but we did find many clues that helped confirm that we were in the right area and that the treasures, if still there, could be reached.
In our opinion, we think if we take more equipment with us next time, we may have a greater chance of making the BIG discovery. The search area is large and there’s no telling where the Wild Bunch might have hidden it. I can tell you that we had many resources and we reached out to many experts in their field that believe the treasure was never recovered, and that the Butch Cassidy crew were all killed before they ever had a chance to come back for their loot.
One thing is for sure, this legend has become a part of Utah and one of its most sought out places to visit and to talk about. I bet it will remain that way for many more years to come. You could find it yourself! All one needs to do is get familiar with the history, research for yourself, and get out in the field to try your luck at the treasure. You may just see us out there! We consider this an open investigation and we will continue to research and seek out the history and lost loot of Butch Cassidy and his gang.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the show on TV, scroll down to watch it right here at Treasures in America. Listen to the Podcast as well. It has some good information and stories that I think you will really like.
Enjoy and Find Your Adventure!
Kathy Weiser, “Lost Loot from Castle Gate, Utah,” Legends of America, accessed July 13, 2019,
Talk Is Jericho - Real Life Indiana Jones Podcast
With Timothy Draper & Steve ShafferListen Here