There was a time when Montpelier residents participated in a Butch Cassidy robbery reenactment.

MONTPELIER – Only 73 miles from Logan on Aug. 13, 1896 the famous bank robber Butch Cassidy and two accomplices robbed the Bank of Montpelier north of Bear Lake. Cassidy, Eliza Lay and Bob Meeks hitched their horses across the street, crossed over and commandeered the bank teller and the friend he was talking to just before it closed for the day.

An antique car club parked in front of the Butch Cassidy Museum.

As the story goes, Cassidy scooped up all of the money and put it in a gunny sack, crossed the street and without making a fuss got on his horse and slowly rode away and his friends followed.

Cassidy and Lay were never caught and the $5,000 – $15,000 they took was never recovered. Meeks, however, was caught but never had any of the loot.

The bank building located at 833 Washington Street is still intact. It was originally built in 1891 and was a bank until 1910.

Radek Konarik, a native of Czech Republic but living and working in Salt Lake City, bought the building to restore the bank to its glory days. He has turned it into the Butch Cassidy Museum.

Konarik was driving though Montpelier in 2005 and noticed a sign pointing to the abandoned building that said it was the bank Butch Cassidy robbed.

The building was for sale, so I tracked down the realtor and bought it in 2005, cleaned it up and before it opened people came to see it,” he said. “I started restoring it as a hobby and it became a success over night.”

The whole community has pitched in and seven years later it has become a very good venture. People volunteer to staff the museum and Konarik’s job in Salt Lake is what keeps the place open.

“I tried to restore it to the way it was,” he said. “We looked through old newspapers; Zions Bank gave us some things.”

The old bank took shape and people started bringing artifacts.

“People have artifacts tucked away in places where people couldn’t see them, now they are starting to bring them to us so people can enjoy them,” he said. “The museum is open, but it doesn’t generate much money yet.”

The Butch Cassidy van used to advertise the Butch Cassidy Museum.

People come from all over the world to visit the museum. It is a unique place. It was the first chartered bank in Idaho, it has a story and admission is free.

“I tried to get grants to help, but I’m not 501c,” he said. “I work seven days a week at my full-time job to keep everything going.”

Konarik said it’s kind of like buying a $300 car and spend $1,000 restoring it.

“It’s all about the ride,” he said. “The people who visit tip the volunteers who work at the museum and they buy souvenirs, which all helps to keep the lights on.”

Konarik has plans to open a sandwich shop and beer and wine saloon right near the old bank. The museum attracts 6,000-7,000 visitors a year. It is only open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Michelle Higley, a member of the Montpelier Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has a lot fun stuff in the museum and it brings a lot of visitors to town.

“People stop all summer long,” she said. “It helps that we have a downtown revitalization project near the museum.”

There is a lot of buzz downtown since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced they are building a temple up the street from the museum.

“We are planning on having six huge murals painted as you come over the overpass into town,” Higley said. “We want the downtown area and Washington Street to be more appealing with the temple being built up the street.”

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