The "Infamous" Hunters Hot Springs Photo
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Posted by Hal Neumann 9 years ago
I was contacted over the weekend by someone who wanted to sell me (for a bargain price!! ) a copy of the "outlaw" photo allegedly taken at Hunters Hot Springs in the 1880s. Allegedly, the photo shows such famed personages as: Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, Wyatt & Morgan Earp, Theodore Roosevelt, Bat Masterson, Judge Roy Bean, Liver Eating Johnson, Doc Holliday, Ben Greenough, and more !!!!

You can see a copy of the picture here:
http://www.huntershotsprings.org/hhs1.html

Now you would think that such a photo would be a bargain at any price . . . And gee, it would be, if those folks were actually in the picture

In 1883, the reputed date of the photo, Morgan Earp had been dead for around a year. Butch Cassidy was around 17 years old at the time. The Sundance Kid was around 16 at the time. Ben Greenough first came to Montana in 1886, at the age of 17. Teddy Roosevelt, at 25, came west to North Dakota for three weeks in September 1883, but his buffalo hunts and ranch arrangements seem to have consumed his time, with no record of a quick trip into Montana. And so on and so on. All of this and more is verified at the web sites listed below.

Anyway, I thought I bring this up so that no one would be tempted to spend more than a couple bucks for the photo -it might worth that as conversation piece . . . but it's not worth big bucks as a piece of Montana's history.

Here's some more info on the photo, if you are interested:

http://www.huntershotsprings.org/intro.html
http://ferncanyonpress.com/tombston/wyatt/montana.shtml
http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/articles/foto1201.htm

--Hal
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson 9 years ago
So where is Hunter Hot Springs located?
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Posted by deer_slayer 9 years ago
That is a very interesting picture. I have to say that I would say it is a fake without a doubt. I do believe that the people in picture are indeed who they say they are, but it looks as though they are a bunch of pictures pieced together and then digitally altered to make it look real.
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Posted by deer_slayer 9 years ago
Hunter's Hot Springs

Formerly the site of the elegant Hotel Dakota, these thermal springs were one of Montana's major social and recreational centers in the early 1900s. Little remains of the old resort, although the steaming springs still flow through a windswept valley just north of the Yellowstone River. Hunter's Hot Springs produces one of the largest flows of hot water in Montana. More than 1,300 gallons per minute of 139-degree-F water flows from three principal springs and up to a dozen smaller springs. The springs are scattered over several hundred yards in the rolling foothills south of the site of the old hotel. The hot springs have been used in past years in crude bathhouses, luxurious plunges, drinki...

I heard that they are between Big Timber and Livingston...is that like Spring Creek?
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson 9 years ago
They look to be about 2 miles northwest of Springdale
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Posted by Hal Neumann 9 years ago
Gunnar - It's in Park County, east of Livingston. If you take Interstate 90 east out of Livingston until you get to Springdale--you can leave the interstate there get to Hunter's Hot Springs--its on the north side of the Yellowstone River.
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deer_slayer, the photo itself is genuine, it's not a "photoshop" fake, it's just that folks have "imagined" (or whatever) that the people in the picture are someone they aren't.

the photo has been around for quite some time, before the internet even. But in post-Internet era it's become famous/infamous - I've saw folks trying to sell copies of it on eBay for some serious dollars.

I once saw a copy in the local museum in Helper, Utah -- the curator there swore it was the real deal - he even claimed that the Montana Historical Society (MHS) had authenticated it. I found it interesting that even the fact that Morgan Earp was dead by 1883 didn't convince him that there might be a problem

Incidentally, the folks at MHS field so many calls about the photo that they can probably recite the disclaimer in their sleep.

It's kind of fun to see uproar the photo causes - as people swear that really is a genuine photo. And it is a genuine photo, but it just isn't of a bunch of famous western characters.

Lyndel Meikle, Jason Leaf, Jerry Brekke and others have done a lot of work - going through other photos taken at the same place in the same general time period, going through the historical record, etc - and they've identified quite a few of the men in the photos.

I just hate to see people spend money on it, when it's not what the seller claims that it is.
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Posted by J. Dyba 9 years ago
cool picture

[This message has been edited by J. Dyba (edited 4/10/2006).]
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Posted by deer_slayer 9 years ago
Hal,

I see your point...there are a few guys in there that do look like the person that they are claimed to be...for example the Liver Eating Johnson guy does look a lot like the real Johnson. I'd say the guy who looks like Teddy R. isn't quite a match. And like you said (or I read) Doc Holiday wasn't going anywhere outside of Glenwood Springs, CO.
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Posted by Amorette Allison 9 years ago
They are probably just a bunch of businessmen. Folks went to Hunter's Hot Springs--it was on the direct NP route--all the time. Every week someone in the 100 years ago in Miles City is off to the Hot springs for their rhuematism. So it's just a bunch of middleaged guys with gout. Ya. Hoo.
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Posted by Hal Neumann 9 years ago
Well, the going rate on eBay has gone down from the last time I checked a year or so ago:
http://cgi.ebay.com/1883-Old-West-P...QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

The gentleman who offered it to me this past weekend for the low, low, once in a life time price of $75 is certainly out of touch with market prices in the phony photo market
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Posted by Morhead 9 years ago
Cool picture, but it is diffidently a fake. The shadows are all different directions. What is in front of the front door?????
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Posted by Amorette Allison 9 years ago
Actually, the shadows all are quite natural. The photo itself isn't a fake. It's the IDENTIFICATION that's fake. The photo is real.
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Posted by GL 9 years ago
Well, if we have learned one thing here.....We don't want deer slayer and Morhead working in the CIA trying to find fake pictures!
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Posted by Morhead 9 years ago
GL

You are correct, but we don't have time in the CIA to investigate photos.............My covers blown-----S.H.I.T
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Posted by Hal Neumann 9 years ago
Well folks are often inclined to believe what they want to believe . . . if that wasn't the case, we'd not have all these great urban myths circulating about.

One of the best urban myths I've heard center's around José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, a.k.a. Francisco "Pancho" Villa (1877(?)-1923).

As the story goes. . . .

One hot afternoon, July 20, 1923, as he was riding from his ranch near Durango in his new Dodge touring car Villa, hero of the Mexican Revolution was ambushed by old enemies and died in a blaze of gunfire. To use the old cliche "blaze of gunfire," is in this instance no overstatement of the facts - it's been reported that Villa's body showed evidence of at least forty bullet wounds. Villa's remains were returned to his favored stomping grounds in Chihuahua for burial. While Villa's death both saddened and gladdened many in Mexico (depending upon political allegiances and the nature of past contacts with the man), his passing, at first, attracted surprisingly little attention in the United States. This, however, was soon to change.

In 1926 grave robbers dug up Villa's coffin and made off with his remains. For the next decade or so, enterprising impresarios from South of the Border periodically sold what was reputed to be Villa's skull to gullible Norte-Americanos. An entire industry sprang up around Villa's skull. At one time, it was reported that no fewer than sixteen of the twenty-seven women in the U.S. who claimed to be Villa's widow, were prepared to sell the skull to the highest bidder.

In the late 1920s two skulls purported to be those Villa surfaced in Denver.

Skull number one was, according to those who claimed expertise in the matter, of the correct size and shape to have matched its alleged source. Skull number two, although suspected of being far too small to be that of Villa, had however, been purchased for twice the price of skull number one . . . and as we all know, money carries a great deal of authority when it comes to such matters.

Denverites, never at a loss to separate fact from fiction, scoured Colorado's Mexican-American community for expert witnesses capable of resolving this dilemma. Several old soldiers were found who had served under Villa in his various campaigns and a panel was convened to determine which was the authentic skull ([i[One has to wonder what these old soldiers truly thought of these crazy Anglos and their skulls[/i]). The panelists, however, after viewing the disputed remains and duly weighing the evidence rendered a Solomon-like verdict. Skull number one, based upon its size and shape was judged to be the skull of Villa the mature man. While skull number two, based upon both its high price and small size, was declared to be that of Villa at the age of sixteen.

And . . . the show went on . . . and folks paid their money to view the skull of their choice



Now . . . I have to admit that this story is probably, almost certainly, an urban myth. I was first told the story by Manuel Machado (and I've since saw it print a couple times).

Machado, Manuel A. CENTAUR OF THE NORTH: FRANCISCO VILLA, THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION, AND NORTHERN MEXICO (Austin, TX: Eakin Press, c1988).

And although Manny was darned knowledgeable when it came to Villa's life - - in all honesty, Manny and I had imbibed a bit at the time he told the story and he was not above pulling your leg if he could get away with it . . . so I've always taken it with a grain of salt and treated it as an urban myth.

And just where is Villa's skull? Well if you google "Villa's skull" you'll see that some are firmly convinced that it's in the possession of Yale's Skull and Bones club.
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Posted by Amorette Allison 9 years ago
From the April 16, 1906, Yellowstone Journal:

Ole Markeson is in town on his way to Hunter's Hot Springs were he goes for the purpose of treating his rhuematism.

As I said, gouty guys.

Amorette
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Posted by Hal Neumann 4 years ago
: -) : -) I just listened to a piece on the BBC World Service about the photo. Sure is a famous fake.
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Posted by Amorette Allison 4 years ago
Did they say it was mis-indentified or did they claim all those outlaws were hanging around for their health.
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Posted by Hal Neumann 4 years ago
They weaseled around . . . you had to listen closely to hear that it was fake. One of their correspondents saw the photo in a bar in Cheyenne - he used it as a springboard to talk about America's fascination with the Old West.
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Posted by M T Zook 4 years ago
I never saw this post originally, but it looks very interesting. Sadly, the links no longer work, and the Fern County Press is just funny. Any current links?
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Posted by David Schott 4 years ago
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup 4 years ago
The museum in Livingston has a copy of the photo & findings of research about it. They found only Liver-eating Johnson mentioned as guest of Hot Springs in newspapers of the time.

The museum has a wonderful online photo database.

http://yellowstone.pastperfect-onli... hot springs;dtype=d
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson 2 years ago
Here's some pretty cool research on the actual names of the people in the photograph.

http://huntershotsprings.info/page-4.html
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Posted by Barb Holcomb 2 years ago
Very interesting - thanks Gunnar
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Posted by Amorette Allison 2 years ago
Gives me an urge to drag out photos of early Miles Citians and see if I can identify one or two.
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Posted by Kathy Beauchot 2 years ago
http://www.huntershotsprings.info/page-3.html

The men in the photo are identified at this site?
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Posted by Amorette Allison 2 years ago
A few are still "unknown." Four or so. Those were the ones I was curious about.
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