this day in crime history: july 21, 1873

RIandP

On this date in 1873, a group of western bank robbers known as the James-Younger gang tried their hand at train robbery.  The gang sabotaged the track just outside Adair, IA and waited for the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific train’s approach.  Around 7:00 PM, the locomotive derailed, killing the engineer.

Some of the robbers hit the express car while the rest guarded the train’s passengers and crew.  The gang believed that the train would be carrying tens of thousands of dollars in gold.  As it turns out, they were mistaken.  They left the scene about ten minutes later with a few thousand in cash.

Some have referred to the 1873 Rock Island &Pacific robbery as the first peace-time train robbery in US history, but this is incorrect.  The Reno gang beat the James-Youngers to it, robbing an Ohio and Mississippi train in Seymour, IN in 1866.

Further reading:

NY Times – “Daring Railway Robbery”

Old West Legends: The James-Younger Gang – Terror in the Heartland

Wikipedia – James-Younger Gang

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2 thoughts on “this day in crime history: july 21, 1873

  1. John D.:
    You had to have some pretty big cajones to rob trains, even back then.
    Granted, they weren’t AS guarded and didn’t move AS fast to trains do today, but still, it’s pretty ballsey.

    Forcing the train to stop by messing with the tracks was the best way to HALT them.

    And, in those days, information wasn’t flying at you 24/7, so it’s easy to become “mistaken”.
    Still, a couple thousand bucks wasn’t that bad a haul for the times.

    Good story.

    Have a great weekend & stay safe out there.

    Like

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