Three brothers who held up a train in 1866 started a wave of these types of robberies for years to come. For 5
SEYMOUR INDIANA is the us99 trivia answer.
Considered the first train robbery, the incident at Seymour was preceded by a similar train burglary. Exactly nine months before, bandits entered an Adams Express car en route to Boston from New York and stole over half a million dollars from safes on the unoccupied car. As in the Seymour case, detectives from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency quickly identified the criminals.
A wave of train robberies followed the Seymour case. Within weeks, two trains were derailed and their pay cars robbed. In 1868, an Adams Express car was attacked again at Seymour. This time the expressman was tossed out the window before safes were cleared of over $40,000.
Train robbery peaked in 1870. Specialists in this form of crime included the Reno brothers, who operated in southern Indiana; the Farringtons, who terrorized passengers in Kentucky and Tennessee; and the Jesse James gang, who wreaked havoc upon rails in the Midwest. Hired by railroad companies anxious to protect themselves, Pinkerton detectives were seldom far behind.
In the late 1930s a Federal Writers’ Project worker recorded a conversation that documents a New Mexico train robbery. “The Early Days in Silver City” provides an eye witness account of the famous Stein’s Pass robbery of the late 1880s:
I happened to be riding that train. I had gone overland to Safford and Solemisvelle prospecting. I decided to come home Thanksgiving to be with my family at Silver City. I boarded the train at Wilcox. There was a large shipment of gold on the train. Just out of Steins Pass we could see a large bon-fire. One of the trainmen remarked, ‘Wonder what the big fire is, I hope we don’t run into any trouble.’ The bon-fire we discovered to our sorrow was on the R. R. Then as today curiosity got the best of some of us so we had to find out why the train came to an abrupt stop, and what the bon-fire was put on the track. We found ourselves looking into the barrel of guns.
On October 6, 1866, one of the first train robberies in America took place when the Reno brothers boarded an eastbound train in Indiana wearing masks and toting guns. After emptying one safe and tossing the other out the window, the robbers jumped off the train and made an easy getaway.