Wyoming culture is steeped with legendary tales of outlaws and gunslingers. The past comes to life every summer as tourists flock to witness re-enactments of wild west shootouts on the streets of Cheyenne, Cody, Jackson, Laramie, and Sheridan.

Here's a look back at the most legendary gunfights in the history of the Cowboy State.

The KC Ranch Standoff - On April 8,1892, rancher Nate Champion was gunned down in the most famous battle of the Johnson County War.

Accused of rustling cattle by the powerful, and corrupt, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, a posse surrounded Champion at his ranch near present day Kaycee, Wyoming.

Legend has it, Champion fought off over 50 men for hours while trapped in a small cabin. Late in the day, after the posse set fire to the cabin, Champion was finally killed while trying to escape. Locals eulogized him as "the bravest man in Johnson County".

The Bear River City Riot - One of many short-lived settlements that followed the western expansion of the railroad, Bear River City sat 10 miles west of present day Evanston.

On Nov. 19, 1868, violence erupted after the lynching of a suspected murderer and railroad worker. Friends of the slain man challenged the posse and many of the town's residents. Eventually, several hundred joined in the riot. After a full day of shootouts in the streets, 16 men were killed.

The Buckets of Blood Shootout - In 1867, "Big" Steve Long was named the Deputy Marshall of Laramie. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the most ruthless and deadly lawmen in the west.

On October 22, 1867, a brawl had spilled onto the streets outside of the saloon Long owned with his brothers. After the men ignored his orders to stop the fight, Long opened fire, killing five of them.

By the fall of 1868, Long was credited with 13 killings and linked to several others. On October 28, a posse led by Albany County Sheriff N.K. Boswell stormed Long's saloon, eventually capturing and lynching him, along with his two brothers.

The Teapot Creek Escape - June 2, 1899, a group of masked men believed to be Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch, robbed a Union Pacific train near Wilcox, Wyoming.

A posse was quickly formed to give chase. Believing the gang was headed to their infamous "Hole in the Wall" hideout, the bandits were cornered by Converse County Sheriff Joe Hazen near Teapot Creek on June 8.

Hazen was killed in the ensuing gunfight and the robbers escaped by swimming across the river. Although many historians attribute the robbery and subsequent shootout to Cassidy's Wild Bunch, no physical evidence has ever linked them to the crimes.

Tarzan of the Tetons - In 1939, Powell native Earl Durand eluded authorities during an 11-day manhunt in the Teton Mountains. The incident began when Durand was jailed for poaching elk near Cody.

After overpowering a guard and stealing a gun, he made off for the mountains, killing two policemen in pursuit. A search party of ten men was formed to track down Durand. After two more Rangers were killed, the FBI and Wyoming National Guard joined the hunt.

11 days later, Durand, dubbed by the press as the "Tarzan of the Tetons", stole a car and attempted to rob a bank in Powell. Inside the bank, he took several hostages, one of whom was killed. Durand was wounded during the standoff and eventually took his own life.

The story was later immortalized by Hollywood in the John Wayne film Wyoming Outlaw and The Legend of Earl Durand.


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