Did Outlaw Jesse James Really Jump South Dakota’s Devil’s Gulch?
It's 18 feet wide, 18 feet across. Could a horse with a rider make that jump? Well, maybe...if you were Jesse James and a posse were after you.
Devil's Gulch is not only a beautiful tourist spot in Palisades State Park near Garretson, South Dakota it's where legendary Old West outlaw Jesse James made the leap of his life.
You are perhaps familiar with the famous 'Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid'. Well, without getting into details of that historic event, suffice to say that things did not go well for the James/Younger gang that day in 1876. And so, off they went after that failed bank robbery with a posse in pursuit.
Jesse came west with the law on his heels (or rather, on his horses' heels) and came to Devil's Gulch. Legend has it that Jesse kicked that horse into what might be called super high gear and jumped across what we now know as Devil's Gulch.
An 18-foot gorge. He made it and rode off to freedom with the posse no doubt looking on in amazement and wonder. At least I suppose that's how Hollywood would have it.
Fact or fiction?
Well, you may have to decide that for yourself, but there's a great article from South Dakota Magazine that Bernie Hunhoff wrote some years ago that can shed more light and details on the event, and whether it really happened. Read his great story here and make up your own mind.
As for me, I'm going to go ahead and believe he did because after all...he was Jesse James!
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