Train robbery

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Train robbery is a type of robbery, in which the goal is to steal money or other valuables being carried aboard trains.

Robbery Taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear; that is, it is a larceny or theft accomplished by an assault. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft by its inherently violent nature ; whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Under English law, most forms of theft are triable either way, whereas robbery is triable only on indictment. The word "rob" came via French from Late Latin words of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub -- "theft".

Money Object or record accepted as payment

Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money.

Train A series of coupled vehicles for transporting cargo/passengers

A train is a form of transport consisting of a series of connected vehicles that generally runs along a railroad track to transport cargo or passengers. The word "train" comes from the Old French trahiner, derived from the Latin trahere meaning "to pull" or "to draw".



Train robberies were more common in the past when trains were slower, and often occurred in the American Old West. Trains carrying payroll shipments were a major target. These shipments would be guarded by an expressman whose duty it was to protect the cargo of the "express car".


A payroll is a company's list of its employees, but the term is commonly used to refer to:

An expressman refers to anyone who has the duty of packing, managing, and ensuring the delivery of any cargo.

Bandits would rely on the expressman to open the safe and provide the goods. Without the combination required for the combination lock, it was almost impossible to break into the safes. However, the invention of dynamite made it much easier to break into safes and rob the train. If the outlaw was unsatisfied with the goods, passengers of the train's carriages, who were generally unarmed, would be held at gunpoint and forced to hand over any valuables they were carrying, usually in the form of jewelry or currency.

Safe secure lockable box used for securing valuable objects

A safe is a secure lockable box used for securing valuable objects against theft and/or damage from fire. A safe is usually a hollow cuboid or cylinder, with one face being removable or hinged to form a door. The body and door may be cast from metal or formed out of plastic through blow molding. Bank teller safes typically are secured to the counter, have a slit opening for dropping valuables into the safe without opening it, and a time-delay combination lock to foil robbers/and or thieves. One significant distinction between types of safes is whether the safe is secured to a wall or structure or if it can be moved around. A less secure version is usually called a cash-box.

Combination lock

A combination lock is a type of locking device in which a sequence of symbols, usually numbers, is used to open the lock. The sequence may be entered using a single rotating dial which interacts with several discs or cams, by using a set of several rotating discs with inscribed symbols which directly interact with the locking mechanism, or through an electronic or mechanical keypad. Types range from inexpensive three-digit luggage locks to high-security safes. Unlike ordinary padlocks, combination locks do not use keys.

Dynamite Explosive made using nitroglycerin

Dynamite is an explosive made of nitroglycerin, sorbents and stabilizers. It was invented by the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in Geesthacht and patented in 1867. It rapidly gained wide-scale use as a more powerful alternative to black powder.

Contrary to the method romanticized by Hollywood, outlaws were never known to jump from horseback onto a moving train. Usually, they would either board the train normally and wait for a good time to initiate the heist, or they would stop or derail the train and then begin the holdup.

Hollywood Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.

Derailment form of train incident

A derailment occurs when a vehicle such as a train runs off its rails. This does not necessarily mean that it leaves its track. Although many derailments are minor, all result in temporary disruption of the proper operation of the railway system, and they are potentially seriously hazardous to human health and safety. Usually, the derailment of a train can be caused by a collision with another object, an operational error, the mechanical failure of tracks, such as broken rails, or the mechanical failure of the wheels. In emergency situations, deliberate derailment with derails or catch points is sometimes used to prevent a more serious accident.

Famous train robbers include Bill Miner, Jesse James, and Butch Cassidy. [1] Jesse James is mistakenly thought to have completed the first successful train robbery in the American West when on July 21, 1873 the James-Younger Gang took US$3,000 from a Rock Island Railroad train after derailing it southwest of the town of Adair, Iowa. [2] However, the first peacetime train robbery in the United States actually occurred on October 6, 1866, when robbers boarded the Ohio & Mississippi train shortly after it left Seymour, Indiana. They broke into one safe and tipped the other off the train before jumping off. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency later traced the crime to the Reno Gang. There was one earlier train robbery in May 1865, but because it was committed by armed guerrillas and occurred shortly after the end of the Civil War, it is not considered to be the first train robbery in the United States. Some sources say that the May 1865 robbery took place at a water siding while the train was stopped taking on water.

Bill Miner American outlaw

Ezra Allen Miner, more popularly known as Bill Miner, was a noted American bandito, originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky, who served several prison terms for stagecoach robbery. Known for his unusual politeness while committing robberies, he was widely nicknamed the Grey Fox, Gentleman Robber or the Gentleman Bandit. He is reputed to have been the originator of the phrase "Hands up!" an original song titled "The Ballad of Bill Miner" was written by singer/songwriter Phillip Mills and recorded by the San Francisco bay area band "The Blackout Cowboys". Legend has it that Bill Miner admonished his cohorts to fire their guns when in danger of capture but "do not kill a man".

Jesse James American outlaw, confederate guerrilla, and train robber

Jesse Woodson James was an American outlaw, bank and train robber, guerrilla, and leader of the James–Younger Gang. Raised in the "Little Dixie" area of western Missouri, James and his family maintained strong Southern sympathies. He and his brother Frank James joined pro-Confederate guerrillas known as "bushwhackers" operating in Missouri and Kansas during the American Civil War. As followers of William Quantrill and "Bloody Bill" Anderson, they were accused of participating in atrocities against Union soldiers and civilian abolitionists, including the Centralia Massacre in 1864.

Butch Cassidy American outlaw

Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, was a U.S. train robber and bank robber, and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the "Wild Bunch" in the U.S. Old West.

List of train robbers

Some notable train robbers are:

Elmer McCurdy Plumber, train robber

Elmer J. McCurdy was an American bank and train robber who was killed in a shoot-out with police after robbing a Katy Train in Oklahoma in October 1911. Dubbed "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up", his mummified body was first put on display at an Oklahoma funeral home and then became a fixture on the traveling carnival and sideshow circuit during the 1920s through the 1960s. After changing ownership several times, McCurdy's remains eventually wound up at The Pike amusement zone in Long Beach, California where they were discovered by a film crew and positively identified in December 1976.

William L. Carlisle American train robber

William L. "Wild Bill" Carlisle was one of the last train robbers of the American West known as the "Robin Hood of the Rails" and "The White-Masked Bandit".

Notable robberies

In two robberies on the Bristol and Exeter Railway two passengers climbed from their carriage to the mail van and back. They were discovered at Bridgwater after the second robbery. [3] One was Henry Poole, a former guard on the Great Western Railway, dismissed for misconduct (possibly on suspicion of another robbery); [4] his fellow passenger, Edward Nightingale, was the son of a man accused, but acquitted, [5] of robbing the Dover mailcoach in 1826, [6] when 2 thieves had dressed in identical clothes to gain an alibi for the other. [7] They were transported for 15 years. [8] Edward appears to have been transported to Perth in 1854. [9]

In fiction

Related Research Articles

<i>The Great Train Robbery</i> (1903 film) 1903 American silent short Western film directed by Edwin Stanton Porter

The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American silent short Western film written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter, a former Edison Studios cameraman. Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie, Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes, although there were no credits. Though a Western, it was filmed in Milltown, New Jersey. The film was inspired by Scott Marble's 1896 stage play, and may also have been inspired by a 1900 train robbery perpetrated by Butch Cassidy.

<i>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</i> 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy, and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the "Sundance Kid", who are on the run from a crack US posse after a string of train robberies. The pair and Sundance's lover, Etta Place, flee to Bolivia in search of a more successful criminal career.

Great Train Robbery (1963) robbery of a Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow and London

The Great Train Robbery was the robbery of £2.6 million from a Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London on the West Coast Main Line in the early hours of 8 August 1963, at Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn, near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England.

Bank robbery crime of stealing from a bank using violence

Bank robbery is the crime of stealing money from a bank, specifically while bank employees and customers are subjected to force, violence, or a threat of violence. This refers to robbery of a bank branch or teller, as opposed to other bank-owned property, such as a train, armored car, or (historically) stagecoach. It is a federal crime in the United States.

George Curry (Wild Bunch) American outlaw

George Sutherland Currie, also known as George "Flat-Nose" Curry, was a Canadian-American robber of the American Old West. Curry was a mentor to Harvey Logan, who would adopt the surname Curry, and the two robbed banks together before both became members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. Curry was killed by a sheriff while rustling in Grand County, Utah.

Butch Cassidys Wild Bunch Old West train robbing gang

Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch was one of the loosely organized outlaw gangs operating out of the Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming during the Old West era in the United States. It was popularized by the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and took its name from the original Wild Bunch. The gang was led by Butch Cassidy, and it included his closest friend Elzy Lay, the Sundance Kid, Tall Texan, News Carver, Camilla "Deaf Charley" Hanks, Laura Bullion, Flat-Nose Curry, Kid Curry and Bob Meeks. They were the most successful train-robbing gang in history.

Sundance Kid American train robber

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in the American Old West. He likely met Butch Cassidy after Cassidy was released from prison around 1896. "The Wild Bunch" gang performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history. Longabaugh fled the United States along with his consort Etta Place and Butch Cassidy in order to escape the dogged pursuit of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The trio fled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Cassidy and Longabaugh were killed in a shootout in November 1908.

James–Younger Gang criminal organization

The James–Younger Gang was a notable 19th-century gang of American outlaws that centered around Jesse James and his brother Frank James. The gang was based in the state of Missouri, the home of most of the members.

The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang was a gang in the American Wild West, which took its name from the Hole-in-the-Wall Pass in Johnson County, Wyoming, where several outlaw gangs had their hideouts.

Tom Ketchum American gunman

Tom Edward Ketchum, known as Black Jack, was a cowboy who later turned to a life of crime. He was executed in 1901 for attempted train robbery.

Harvey Logan American outlaw

Harvey Alexander Logan, also known as Kid Curry, was an American outlaw and gunman who rode with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's infamous Wild Bunch gang during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite being less well-known than his fellow gang members, he has since been referred to as "the wildest of the Wild Bunch", having reputedly killed at least nine law enforcement officers in five different shootings and another two men in other instances. He was involved in numerous shootouts with police and civilians and participated in several bank and train robberies with various gangs during his outlaw days.

Joe Lefors was a lawman in the closing years of the Old West. He is best known for the arrest of gunman Tom Horn in 1903 for the alleged murder of 14‑year-old sheepherder Willie Nickell, which has since come into question, and it has long been believed that Lefors falsified evidence helping to convict the wrong man for the murder.

Ben Kilpatrick American bank robber

Ben Kilpatrick was an American outlaw during the closing days of the American Old West. He was a member of the Wild Bunch gang led by Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay. He was arrested for robbery and served about 10 years of his 15-year sentence. Upon his release from prison, he returned to crime and was killed by a hostage during a train robbery.

William Carver (Wild Bunch) American outlaw

William "News" Carver was an American outlaw and a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch during the closing years of the American Old West. His nickname "News" was given to him because he enjoyed seeing his name in newspaper stories of his gang's exploits. He was ambushed and killed by Sheriff deputies in 1901.

<i>Outlaw Trail: The Treasure of Butch Cassidy</i> 2006 film by Ryan Little

Outlaw Trail: The Treasure of Butch Cassidy is a 2006 American adventure film, produced and directed by Ryan Little. It is loosely based on legends arising from the fate of real-life Western outlaw Butch Cassidy, the alias of Robert LeRoy Parker, whose gang robbed trains and banks in the 1890s. Cassidy fled to South America in 1901, where he is believed to have died in 1908.

Mail robbery

Mail robbery is the robbery of mail usually when it is in the possession, custody, or control, of the delivering authority, which in most countries is the postal operator and can involve the theft of money or luxury goods.

Baxters Curve Train Robbery

The Baxter's Curve Train Robbery, also known as the Sanderson Train Robbery, occurred in 1912 near the town of Sanderson, Texas. Ben Kilpatrick and his partner, Ole Hobek, attempted to rob a Southern Pacific express car, but they were stopped by one of their hostages, David A. Trousdale, who managed to kill both of the bandits.


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