Robbers’ Roost (1930)

03 Jun
dirty devil river

Mouth of Fremont River (Dirty Devil River); Brown expedition 1889

Collier’s Weekly Magazine, October 11 – December 6, 1930
Harper & Brothers, New York 1932

Once more we find ourselves in Utah, this time around 1877 by Dirty Devil River (ZGWS).

“A beautiful young city girl, … a bold, young adventurer with a mysterious past, … two bands of desperados laughing at death”

exclaims the Milwaukee Journal as it introduces the coming daily serial starting May 7, 1931.

Credit: Robbers Roost Management Area

Credit: Robbers Roost Management Area

Let’s see what the above characterization looks like when Zane Grey’s own words are used:

A beautiful young city girl:

She had a wonderful step, a free, swinging, graceful stride, expressive of health and vitality. She did not look slender, as in the long ulster, but superb, broad of shoulder. She wore a half-length coat over her brown dress. It had a collar of dark fur which presented vivid contrast to her exquisite complexion. The veil was tucked back and now permitted sight of a wave of shining golden hair. At a little distance her eyes looked like great, dark holes set in white. But as she approached Jim saw they were violet in hue, warm, beautiful, fearless.

The mysterious adventurer:

He was a young man in years, but he had the hard face and eagle eye of one matured in experience of that wild country. He bestrode a superb bay horse, dusty and travel-worn and a little lame. The rider was no light burden, judging from his height and wide shoulders; moreover, the saddle carried a canteen, a rifle, and a pack. From time to time he looked back over his shoulder at the magnificent, long cliff wall, which resembled a row of colossal books with leaves partly open. It was the steady, watchful gaze of a man who had left events behind him.

And two bands of desperados. First off – Heeseman’s gang:

“Heeseman is the rustler of Dragon Canyon. None of the ranchers even round here know thet, but I know it. He’s got a small outfit, but shore enough bad. An’ in some way he got wind of Herrick’s scheme.”

Hays’ gang:

“Shore you ought. It’s not his money, you noticed,” drawled the robber, forcing the bill upon the reluctant youth. Then he addressed the traveler. “Say, Mormon, when you get uptown, or wherever you’re goin’–jest say Hank Hays paid you his respects.”

Robber's Roost Colliers magazine 3

Robbers’ Roost is another story from Zane Grey that draws from real life events. In Utah there is a place called Robbers’ Roost where bandits would hide out. About the time of this story (1870’s) a cattle rustler by the name of Butch Cassidy turned up and used Robbers’ Roost to hide the cattle he had stolen. The cost of taking Robbers’ Roost was too high for lawmen of the area. (RRH)

When Herrick thinks to save his cattle from rustling by setting two gangs up against each other he might not have been thinking all that clearly. Hays and Heeseman are more trouble than help. Fortunately for Herrick Jim Wall turns out to be on his side. Wall goes against his boss, Hays, when Hays kidnaps Helen – Herrick’s sister. That seems to be the line across which Wall was not willing to cross.









Robbers’ Roost: History

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Posted by on 2014-06-03 in Books


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