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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | October 6, 2010

I’m pretty sure this story is a perfect fit for this blog. It’s got Old West ambiance, violence, guns, and a moving train loaded with money and precious metals. All that’s missing is the babes, but I’m sure some hot, rich chicks took the train out West. And by “sure,” I mean I really, really hope.

October 6, 1866 – First Train Robbery in U.S. History

Brothers John and Simeon Reno stage the first train robbery in American history, making off with $13,000 from an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County, Indiana. Many bandits, who might otherwise have been robbing banks or stagecoaches, discovered that the newly constructed transcontinental and regional railroads in the West made attractive targets. With the western economy booming, trains often carried large amounts of cash and precious minerals. The wide-open spaces of the West also provided train robbers with plenty of isolated areas ideal for stopping trains, as well as plenty of wild spaces where they could hide from the law.

The railroad owners, however, were not about to sit back and let Cassidy or any other bandit freely pillage their trains. To their dismay, would-be train robbers increasingly found that the cash and precious metals on trains were well protected in massive safes watched over by heavily armed guards. Some railroads, such as the Union Pacific, even began adding special boxcars designed to carry guards and their horses. In the event of an attempted robbery, these men could not only protect the train’s valuables, but could also quickly mount their horses and chase down the fleeing bandits–hopefully putting a permanent end to their criminal careers.

Security on modern trains must be equally tight, especially since there hasn’t been a train robbery in the news for as long as I can remember.

Topics: HHH | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. Morgan Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    The Reno Gang is part of a list of infamous Hoosiers we don’t brag about very often.

  2. John D Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    …there hasn’t been a train robbery in the news for as long as I can remember.

    The last great train robbery in the US was by the DeAutremont brothers in 1923. To say it didn’t go well would be an understatement.

  3. Wyatt Earp Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Morgan – Did they play basketball, too?

    John D – Nice! Tough to get a decent, safe bomb, huh?

  4. Rick Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I had a family member that rode with the Reno Brothers.
    It was my great uncle’s great grandfather.

  5. Picky Says:
    October 7th, 2010 at 1:30 am

    And $13K was a boatload of money back then! One website I found estimates $13K in 1866 to be worth $186K in todays money (based on what people earn at work and spend.).

  6. RT Says:
    October 7th, 2010 at 5:25 am

    That was a really neat story. I think the part about the guards on horseback while on the trains was pretty cool.

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    October 7th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Rick – Cool. History comes alive.

    Picky – And they got it at relatively little risk. At least until the train companies caught on.

    RT – Prepared for every contingency, I suppose.

  8. ThomasF Says:
    October 7th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Railroad thieves are very common these days they just don’t transport money so the thieves go for product…..

    granted this was 2003 but you should get in touch with you local RR police I’m sure they would have some amazing stories to tell…

    Out this Chicago way, A story you wont hear was a group of thieves were chased off a boxcar, and when the car numbers were transmitted to dispatch the NRC (yeah the group that handles the stuff that makes your hair and testes fall off!!!!) was on site PDQ.