Did Kid Curry really die in 1904 during the Parachute train heist?
Three men robbed the Denver & Rio Grande train west of Parachute on June 7, 1904, and escaped into the rainy night. They crossed the Colorado River in a small boat and grabbed horses they had waiting on the other side.
But they didn’t reckon with modern technology. On the morning of June 9, they demanded breakfast and fresh horses at the Banta ranch on Divide Creek. However, Mrs. Banta had a telephone and began alerting neighbors to the outlaws in the area. That alert was soon passed to the posse chasing the bandits.
Later that day, the desperados were tracked to Garfield Creek south of New Castle, where a shootout occurred. Two of the bandits escaped, but the third was wounded. He killed himself rather than be taken alive.
Thus ended the life of Harvey Alexander Logan, aka Kid Curry, a man the Pinkerton Detective Agency called the most feared outlaw in the United States. He was buried in Glenwood Springs.
Or maybe not.
A number of people, including David Bailey, curator of history at the Museums of Western Colorado, believe there is significant evidence to indicate Logan was not killed on Garfield Creek, although he was likely involved in the crime.
For instance, Logan had been shot in the right wrist during another robbery, and he had a scar on that wrist. But a doctor who examined the dead man’s body a month after the Parachute robbery said there was no scar on the wrist.
Additionally, Bailey said an examination of the ears and other facial features in photographs of Logan revealed differences from the features shown in photos of the dead Parachute bandit.
That dead man was identified as Kid Curry by Pinkerton detective Lowell Spence, who had tracked Logan for years. Spence viewed the body when it was exhumed after the killing.
But Spence’s opinion wasn’t shared at the Pinkerton agency. In December 1905, a bank robbery in Argentina drew international interest. The Pinkerton agency sent wanted posters with photographs to police and newspapers in Argentina. The posters identified the bank robbers as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Etta Place (Sundance’s girlfriend, who may have dressed as a man for the robbery) and Harvey Logan.
Three years later, two masked men stole a mine company’s payroll in Bolivia. Two days later, Bolivian authorities surrounded a house in the town of San Vicente, where two men were holed up. Both men were killed. This was the much-disputed shootout in which Butch and Sundance may have died.
A British mining engineer named A.G. Francis, who was in Bolivia at the time, wrote later that he met the outlaws several weeks before the payroll robbery. They called themselves Smith and Lowe, but Francis said he learned afterward that they were actually Butch Cassidy and Harvey Logan.
It remains uncertain whether the two men killed in San Vicente were responsible for the mine payroll theft, but Francis’ story offers more evidence that Logan may have been alive long after the Parachute robbery.
Harvey Logan was born near Des Moines, Iowa, in 1867. When he was a teenager, he and his three brothers moved west. They soon had a horse ranch near the mining camp of Landusky, Montana, where they lived peaceably until 1894.
On December 27, 1894, Harvey accosted local bigwig Pike Landusky outside a bar, believing Landusky was harassing the Logan boys. The two men pulled guns. Landusky’s misfired, but Logan’s did not. Pike Landusky was the first of up to 15 men Harvey Logan would be accused of killing.
The Logans headed to Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming. They were befriended by an outlaw named George “Flatnose” Currie, and Harvey began calling himself Harvey Curry or Kid Curry.
Over the next decade, the Logan boys were involved in numerous criminal activities.
A raid on a bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, netted only a few dollars.
A train robbery near Wilcox, Wyoming, resulted in a much larger payoff. The robbery may have been coordinated with Butch Cassidy, but he and Sundance were believed to be in Winnemucca, Nevada, at the time of the train robbery, planning a bank job.
Logan also proved to be accurate with a gun and quick to seek revenge for any perceived injustice. On May 26, 1900, he is believed to have murdered Grand County, Utah, Sheriff John Tyler and a deputy near Thompson Springs. Six weeks earlier, Tyler had shot and killed Flatnose Currie.
Harvey Logan joined Butch, Sundance and others in Fort Worth, Texas, early in 1901, when the famed Wild Bunch photo was taken.
Later that year, Logan got into a fight in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was arrested and identified by a Pinkerton agent. In November 1902, he was convicted on federal charges of forgery and passing stolen bank notes. He was sentenced to up to 130 years in a federal prison, but he escaped from the Knoxville jail and disappeared.
If Logan was involved in the Parachute train robbery, he and his partners got the wrong train. The bandits may have gotten a few thousand dollars from the D&RG train, but they missed the big haul. Their goal had been a Colorado Midland train that left Parachute a bit earlier that day carrying $150,000.
It’s been speculated that, if the dead man wasn’t Logan, it was a man named Tad Duncan, although a cowboy by that name was later photographed in Wyoming. It also might have been Logan’s brother or a cousin known to run with him.
The two outlaws who survived the train robbery and posse chase were never caught or positively identified. Was Harvey Logan one of them?
Information for this column came from David Bailey, curator of history for the Museums of Western Colorado; Colorado Historic Newspapers online; “Butch Cassidy, My Uncle,” by Bill Betenson; “Harvey Logan: Wildest of the Wild Bunch,” by Donna B. Ernst, on Historynet.com.