FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Doug Harmon explained, “It’s probably the most famous picture of the Old West.” Harman, a former Fort Worth City Manager, is talking about a photograph of a gang of bank and train robbers called the “Wild Bunch.” Among those in the photo – the infamous outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Harman has a passion for history, and he helped create Heritage Trails — a series of markers in downtown that explain the events that shaped Fort Worth.
One of his favorite markers tells about the photograph that was taken in downtown Fort Worth. He says it turns out, the real Butch and Sundance visited Fort Worth– a lot.
“After all, if you stole and had all that money you couldn’t spend it out on the range, so you would come to someplace where there is entertainment fun and gambling and Fort Worth was one of those places,” said Harman.
He says, on one of their visits in May of 1901, they got all dressed up a wedding and posed for a picture at the Swartz Brothers Studio, which was at 600 Main Street.
“The photo was taken right here by John Swartz. And Swartz, when he saw the photo, and they all took copies of the photo, he said this is a magnificent photo, the way it is posed. So he put it in his front window,” Harman said.
Soon after people started recognizing the train and bank robbers, and soon after the law were hot on their heels. That’s when Butch and Sundance hightailed it out of town.
Present day Fort Worth is still tied to its past. Harman said, “Certainly today, it has a beautiful ring to it.”
In the 1980’s, when Fort Worth was working to revitalize downtown, they decided to name Sundance Square after the infamous outlaw that once roamed the streets. There is a bit of irony there. “The sense of humor is that Sundance Square, home of banks, is named for bank robbers,” Harmon said.
But it paid off… Sundance Square continues to thrive, and it is Fort Worth’s way of keeping history alive.
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