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.



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".

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.

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.

Famous train robbers include Butch Cassidy, Bill Miner and Jesse James. [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.

List of train robbers

Some of the most notable train robbers are:

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 short 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. 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.

Butch Cassidy American outlaw

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

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.

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, near Kaycee in Wyoming, a natural fortress with caves, with a narrow entrance which was constantly guarded. Sometimes the gang was referred to as the 'Hole in the Wall Gang'. This was 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 revolved 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.

<i>Robbery</i> (1967 film) 1967 film by Peter Yates

Robbery is a 1967 British neo noir crime film directed by Peter Yates and starring Stanley Baker. The story is a heavily fictionalised version of the 1963 Great Train Robbery. The film was produced by Stanley Baker and Michael Deeley, for Baker's company Oakhurst Productions.

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 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.

Ben Kilpatrick American bank robber

Ben Kilpatrick was an American outlaw during the closing years 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.

The Reno Gang, also known as the Reno Brothers Gang and The Jackson Thieves, were a group of criminals that operated in the Midwestern United States during and just after the American Civil War. Though short-lived, they carried out the first three peacetime train robberies in U.S. history. Most of the stolen money was never recovered.

<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.

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.

The Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery was a robbery of a Union Pacific train near present-day Big Springs, Nebraska on September 18, 1877. The robbery was perpetrated by a gang of six outlaws led by Sam Bass. Though there were no fatalities, the bandits reportedly stole $60,000 in newly minted $20 gold pieces which was being shipped from the San Francisco Mint to a bank in the eastern United States, among other valuables. Contemporary press coverage of the sensational heist made Bass and his gang of "Black Hills Bandits" instantly famous. It remains the largest single robbery in the history of the Union Pacific Railroad. Several of the gang members were killed in the days following the robbery, but Bass escaped.

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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