The bank at Red Lodge, Montana, where the robbery was attempted.
The getaway route used in this story attempts to stay as close as possible to the one used by the outlaws. Driving it is the only way to get a true vision of how much territory men of the Old West could cover on a horse. Lone Writer spent most of a day getting between Red Lodge and Flat Willow Creek. The outlaws did it on horseback in three days.
Lone Writer laid out the route by using county backroads that cut through lands used for ranching and farming. It is an easy trip that does not require the use of four-wheel drive unless it rains. The route is quite scenic, with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. There were hawks, rabbits, antelope, deer, and of course plenty of horses and cattle. The valleys are green and grassy ranchlands with numerous ranch headquarters.
After about 20 miles, Lone Writer reached Cooney State Park, with campgrounds and picnic areas scattered around the shores of a very large lake. The next 5 miles were spent driving along the east side of the lake until reaching the dam, where a short paved road crosses to the west side. From that point, the route returns to being a scenic drive through grassy valleys all the way to Columbus.
According to the Kid Curry account of the getaway, they crossed the Yellowstone River near Columbus on the second day. That story can be found in the book titled Kid Curry by Bruce Lamb. Although this book is often accused of being historically incorrect, the stories are based on tales told by Kid Curry and those who knew him very well. It is the only book Lone Writer has found that even attempts to tell these stories from an outlaw's point of view. Although it is currently out of print, copies can be obtained through Internet searches and also on eBay.
The town of Columbus was first established as a stagecoach station on the Yellowstone Trail. It continued to grow through the years and is still a thriving community.
After crossing the Yellowstone River, the outlaws camped nearby then continued north and rode past Battle Butte on the third day. Battle Butte is about 7 miles south of a small community named Rapelje.
Lone Writer reached Rapelje in time for lunch at the Stockman Caf. This unique town came to life during the early 1900s, thus it did not exist when the outlaws raced north from Red Lodge. It had become an "end-of-tracks" town and was named after a general manager of the Northern Pacific. Today, it serves the many ranches that surround it. For travelers along the route in this story, it is a great place for lunch.
This Outlaw Trail route leaves Rapelje and continues north toward the Little Snowy Mountains where the outlaws were captured. Of course there is no way to know the exact route they used; however, this one follows backcountry roads through very remote country in much the same way they might have traveled. The route is hilly but less so than those south of Columbus. Numerous plateaus scattered across the horizon form a distinctive contrast to the many fields and grasslands.
One interesting land formation along the way is an enormous plateau. The road climbs up the south wall, travels across the flat top, then uses a series of switchbacks to get down the north wall. The views are spectacular, and wildlife sightings include wild turkeys and deer.
At the end of the third day, the outlaws had reached the foothills of the Little Snowy Mountains. They had intended to camp on Flatwillow Creek but decided they were not being followed and stopped somewhere nearby. Walt Putney was chosen to be the lookout and sent to a higher perch.