Wild West History in Oklahoma
On the outskirts of the Sans Bois Mountains
community of Wilburton, Oklahoma, Robbers
Cave State Park preserves some of the most
beautiful scenery in the South.
The park takes its name from Robbers Cave,
an unusual triangular opening in the side of
a scenic rock bluff. According to legend, the
cave and its surrounding bluffs, ravines and
rock formations was a hideout for notorious
Old West outlaws Jesse James and Belle
The truth behind the legend is difficult to
reveal. It is known that Belle Starr lived for a
time in a rough frontier cabin about 20 miles
north of the park, while Jesse James was
involved in several robberies in nearby
Arkansas. They definitely could have spent
time hiding in the Robbers Cave area.
The legends are lingering reminders of the
terror inflicted on the inhabitants of the Indian
Territory (today's Oklahoma) by outlaw gangs
during the years after the Civil War. Although
the scenery differs from many Hollywood
depictions, this was the real "True Grit"
territory of "Hanging Judge" Isaac C. Parker
and the Deputy Marshals of Fort Smith.