Montrose, CO — The Robert Leroy Parker Chapter of E Clampus Vitus will dedicate an interpretive plaque recognizing the outlaw’s stay in the former 1885 Montrose County Jail on Saturday, June 8, at 10 a.m. Robert Leroy Parker was better known as Butch Cassidy.
The plaque dedication ceremony will take place at the historic jail located at 217 South 1st Street, on the alley just west of Abel’s Ace Hardware in downtown Montrose.
Sally Johnson with the Montrose County Historical Society will provide tours of the jail until noon. Refreshments will also be served. Street parking is available on South Selig Avenue and South 1st Street.
Butch Cassidy, who later became famous after robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride in 1889, was reportedly arrested on June 27, 1888, for horse theft and sent to the Montrose County Jail. As it turned out, Cassidy owned the horse and after deciding not to sell it to a local rancher, removed it from the property. The rancher reported the horse stolen, and Cassidy was arrested. Charges against Cassidy were later dropped after the rancher changed his story.
The Robert Leroy Parker Chapter of E Clampus Vitus is one of 46 chapters across the western United States and is dedicated to the preservation of Old West history.
The chapter has dedicated plaques in Mitchell Springs, Colorado, outside of Telluride, at the veteran’s cemetery in Grand Junction, and at the visitor’s center and Vietnam Memorial in Fruita.
“Our motto is ‘Credo Quia Absurdum’ or ‘I believe because it is absurd’- so it’s fitting that Butch Cassidy was held in the jail for stealing his own horse and a big part in why we want to plaque it,” said chapter spokesman Tom Heidger.
The City of Montrose purchased the former jail in 2016 and plans to return the building to public use as a heritage site. The Montrose County Board of Commissioners designated the jail as a local historic landmark in August 2018.
The city received a grant in 2018 from History Colorado’s State Historical Fund to assess the structural integrity of the building and to develop construction documents for its preservation and restoration.
“Many Montrose residents are unaware the former jail still exists. The plaque dedication and jail tours will bring awareness of the structure and of the city’s historic preservation efforts,” said city Grant Coordinator Kendall Cramer.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.