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Devil's Gulch

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Devil's Gulch in Garretson, South Dakota, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the region, is where Jesse James jumped the gorge on horseback! As the story goes, Jesse James evaded capture after a failed bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota by fleeing west and stealing horses. Only Devil's Gulch stood in his way! Most people and even historians believe the feat to be near impossible although signs and plaques at the site, now named Devil's Gulch Park, attest otherwise. A sign at the park describes the feat, saying Jesse "spun his horse and sprinted towards the chasm. With the lawmen watching with mouths agape Jesse's horse hurled itself across the 20-foot gorge." Historians would rebuff this tale by saying, first, the posse was reportedly a group of about 20 poorly armed local farmers who were smart enough to not approach a crack shot like Jesse. Second, Jesse's horse was a broken-down farm nag incapable of jumping a fence. And lastly, Devil's Gulch is only a half-mile long and even if we don't know for sure, Jesse could have simply ridden around the gulch! One fact surely stands though - the canyon below is so deep in some places that those areas are practically bottomless. Failure to make the jump would have Jesse tumbling to his death below. Devil's Gulch Park is free and tours are on your own with the help of many signs.