Situated in the wilderness of Garretson, South Dakota, a natural quartzite canyon known as Devil’s Gulch was the site of one of legendary outlaw Jesse James’ greatest escapes.
As the story goes, after staging the famous Northfield, Minnesota bank robbery in 1876, James was immediately hounded by a local posse dead set on bringing the outlaw to justice. Unable to shake the dogged hunters, James rode into the wilderness where he encountered the natural 18-foot wide chasm. With nowhere left to run, the famous criminal rode into legend by jumping the gap on his horse, leaving the baffled posse on the other side of the canyon.
A number of scholars have tried to verify the story or even the physical possibility of such a jump, but the feat remains the stuff of legend. The story was so pervasive that a plaque was erected at the site, and a bridge built across the expanse so that visitors can casually stroll across the storied gap. Looking down the 60-foot drop through the metal grate of the bridge, it’s easy to see why only a legend would have the courage (or supernatural ability) to effect such a historic escape.