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The History of Kaycee, Wyoming

Mar 30, 2022 | History

Plan a Trip

Plan your excursion to Kaycee and Southern Johnson County!

Visit the Kaycee Chamber:
www.kayceewyoming.org
Phone: 307-738-2444

True Wild West

Located along Interstate 25 with incredible views of the Bighorn Mountain Range, Kaycee is rich with history. The community is 67 miles north of Casper, or 46 miles south of Buffalo. The town emerged during some of the wildest of Wyoming’s history⁠—and even today, Kaycee likes to boast that they are a true Wild West town, with characters that may have walked right out of the 1800s.

The KC Ranch

The first homesteader was John Nolan whose ranch settled along the Powder River. The brand he used was KC. During the Cattleman’s Invasion of 1892, the Nolan Ranch was the scene of one of the most cowardly and brutal murders in the history of the West.

On April 10, 1892, the “Cattlemen” along with Tom Horn burned Nolan’s ranch house and murdered Nate Champion and Nick Ray, who were leasing the ranch from Nolan at the time. This was the prelude to the Johnson County Cattle Wars, which was part of a plot to scare the smaller ranchers into leaving Wyoming. To this day, this lawlessness has gone by without due punishment.

Small Town, Big Recreational Opportunities

There is lots to see and do in this small town! Don’t pass it by. Read on to learn more!

HOLE IN THE WALL

The Story: It contains a public campground, a Native American rock shelter with pictographs, and the famous “Outlaw Cave.” The infamous “Hole-in-the-Wall” Country and Outlaw Cave are where legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, the Wild Bunch, Jesse James and the Hole-in-the-Wall gang all hid out. The scene varies from rolling rangeland to red rock buttes to steep canyons, with amazing views. Located about 20 miles west of town is the Outlaw Cave Recreation Area.

 

LOCAL COWBOYS

The Story: In more modern times, Kaycee is known for producing great cowboys and country singers. Former world champion bareback rider turned country singer, Chris LeDoux, arguably is the best of the
bunch. After his stellar rodeo career, LeDoux decided to throw everything into a music career. His search for a full-time touring band that could help to create his new musical vision produced a unique group of talented musicians, which is named Western Underground.

Succeeding his death in March 2005, the LeDoux family and the community of Kaycee commemorated the Chris LeDoux Park and the “Good Ride Cowboy” bronze statue crafted by Johnson County sculptor D. Michael Thomas.

Scenic Landscape of Johnson County Wyoming
Nate-Champion-Hole-in-the-Wall-country
Nate-Champion-Hole-in-the-Wall-country

Robin Hood of the West

Butch Cassidy, born Robert Leroy Parker, was a notorious train robber, bank robber and leader of the Wild Bunch Gang in the Old West. He was also known as the “Robin Hood of the West” for sharing his loot with people whose lives had been ruined by the cattle barons and bankers. Not your typical outlaw, Butch preferred bowler hats and a gentleman appeal of the finer things in life.

He was a charming thief, who was well liked and is believed to have never killed anyone.

Cassidy embarked on what is considered the longest stretch of successful train and bank robberies in American history as a member of the “Wild Bunch.” Members included such infamous bandits as Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid), Harvey Logan (Kid Curry) and his brother Lonny Curry, “Laughing” Sam Carey, Ben Kilpatrick (the “Tall Texan”), Black Jack Ketchum, William Ellsworth Lay (Elzy Lay), and George “Flat Nose” Curry.

Portrait of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch GangThe group hit banks and trains in South Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Robert Lawson, a mail clerk working on the Union Pacific Railroad, was in the mail car of a train stopped by the “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” in the wilds of Wyoming. He recounted his experience in the June 8, 1899, issue of our local newspaper the Buffalo Bulletin.

Between robberies, the men would lie low at the Hole-in-the-Wall, one of the most famous hideouts located in southern Johnson County, Wyoming. This is also where several other outlaw gangs (the Logan brothers and Jesse James
among others) holed up.

Named after a pass in an eroded rock wall mesa rising over the rolling plains and canyons, the name fits the location. A steep climb over loose rock to the top of the wall, with sweeping 360-degree views, the pass was well situated to spot approaching lawmen – and the narrowness of the approach made it easy to defend.

Today the area is a part of the Willow Creek Ranch, a working spread with a large herd of cattle. Accessible today by a series of dusty, two-track roads, the trail to the Hole-in-the-Wall attracts history buffs & tourists alike.

Learn more:  Kaycee Chamber of Commerce – Kaycee – www.kayceewyoming.org

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before you dive in

Safety First!

Johnson County, Wyoming, and our local businesses and attractions are taking necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented time. Before you make your plans to go to any of the locations listed on this website and in the articles, please visit their website to familiarize yourself with their guidelines. And please, wear your favorite face covering while visiting Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming.

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