Train robberies are usually linked to Western action movies and cowboys. Trains have been the main transportation method for goods for a very long time and robberies were quite frequent, especially if the trains transported valuable goods like gold. The guardians of the trains had a very dangerous job because robbers weren’t usually alone. What fascinates us the most is the lurking danger of any transport, the heroic battle between the good and the evil and the easiness with which the villains could disappear in a cloud of dust. We have listed some of the greatest train robberies in history to highlight these amazing moments in the history of transportation.
Jesse James is one of the most notorious bank robbers in history. He was also known for his bold train robberies. On July 21, 1873 he committed one of the most famous train robberies in history. It happened near Adair, in Iowa. After weeks of planning, his gang loosed the rails and waited. When the trains came, they took one piece of the rail so the train derailed. The crash killed a man and the locomotive engineer. The robbers then started to search for valuable belongings, especially gold coins. They were very disappointed that they did not find any gold so they started robbing the passengers. This robbery shocked the public across the US and leads to better security on trains.
The Wilcox train robbery is another famous deed specific for the late 19th century. The gang named Wild bunch was lead by Butch Cassidy and was responsible for many train robberies across the US. In 1899 they flagged a train of the Pacific Union. They managed to get in the train and separate the locomotive from the rest of the train and eventually stopped the whole train. They stole around 30.000$ in unmarked banknotes and ran off. The deeds of this band lead to the creation of the movie “The Great Robbery”.
Another famous robber gang was the “Newton Boys”. This gang had a very prolific career, robbing six trains and more than 60 banks. In 1924, two of the gang member embarked on a train and soon pointed their guns to the engineer that stopped near Randout, Illinois. The gang had a specific working method. They used to throw bottles of formaldehyde through the windows of the train, making the guardians choke and unable to defend the train. They managed to steal 3 million dollars but were soon discovered when they came to a hospital in Chicago. One of the gang members was injured during the heist and needed medical attention.
One of the most famous robberies in history impresses with ingenuity and silence. The great gold robbery happened in 1855 in France. When the train arrived at the destination, it was 15000 British Pounds lighter. The caskets with money were kept secret and tightly locked. The police then discovered that it was an inside job. The masterminds, Edward Agar and William Pierce obtained the wax imprints of the safe keys and simply made copies.