Great Train Robberies of the Old West

Great Train Robberies of the Old West

by R. Michael Wilson
     
 

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During the 1800s trains carried the nation's wealth throughout the east, but no one thought to rob a speeding train until 1866. In 1870 the first western train was robbed in Nevada and within hours a second train was robbed. Railroads made every alteration to their cars and changed every procedure they could imagine to thwart the robbers, but to no avail. Robbing

Overview

During the 1800s trains carried the nation's wealth throughout the east, but no one thought to rob a speeding train until 1866. In 1870 the first western train was robbed in Nevada and within hours a second train was robbed. Railroads made every alteration to their cars and changed every procedure they could imagine to thwart the robbers, but to no avail. Robbing trains became epidemic over the next five decades, even when the legislatures made train robbery a capital crime. A few of the hundreds of train robberies stand out as thrilling and dangerous affairs, and the greatest of these (15-20) are included in this book.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The safe was cleaned out, the take being about $4,000, and then mail clerk Robert Spaulding told the robbers that there was no registered mail aboard as it had been sent on the day time run. Cornett replied that it was alright as they were not after “Uncle Sam’s money. We only want Gould’s money.” The robbers removed the obstruction from the tracks and bid the trainmen a “pleasant good night” before they rode off into the darkness.
KLIATT - Raymond Puffer
At first glance, this is just a collection of nicely readable adventure tales from the Western Frontier: historically accurate enough, but fairly lightweight even so. There is more substance here, though, than first meets the eye. For one thing, these are vignettes of our common history that did, in fact, really take place and involved real people making actual decisions. Real-life history trumps fiction any day of the week. While YAs will doubtlessly enjoy the action in these stories, at the same time they will also absorb some of the nitty-gritty of what life really was like in the western states not all that long ago. Two things come to mind when reading this fascinating series of train robbery stories. The first is a reminder of just how civilized the "Old West" really was. Movies and Western novels always cast their exciting tales in a cultural vacuum: each adventure takes place in some sort of splendid isolation, just as if the accessories of the larger culture—a sheriff, the federal marshals, the US Cavalry—weren't just a telegraph message away. In most of the examples in this book, the down-and-outers who carried out their robberies were swiftly isolated and hunted down on the spot by local posses, or a little later by sheriffs alerted by telegraphed warnings, or even by citizens who read their local newspapers. Given the resources at hand in even the "wildest" days of the Old West, the act of derailing and robbing a train was as foolhardy then as it would be today. The other surprise that the reader notices is just how recent all of that was. Those robbers who managed to survive their capture and imprisonment commonly lived on into the 1920s and 1930s. Many avenerable lawman or miscreant eventually pegged out during the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, or even later—i.e., well into the living memories of some of our own relatives. "Living history," indeed.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762741502
Publisher:
TwoDot
Publication date:
11/01/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

R. Michael Wilson has been researching the Old West for fifteen years, following a quarter century as a law enforcement officer. His particular interest is crime, and none are more thrilling than stagecoach robberies. He has published one book on the subject in Arizona, and four more on other aspects of crime on the frontier. His research philosophy is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."Previous self-published titles:Drenched in Blood, Rigid in Death; the true story of the Wickenburg massacre, 132 pages, PB, illustrated, notes, bibliography, index; 2000. A detailed criminal investigation of this controversial "massacre." This event was featured in a vignette during the 2004 season of "Wild West Tech" on the History Channel and in a vignette on the Unsolved Mysteries series [poor historical accuracy]. Author has sold over 600 books.Tragic Jack; the true story of Arizona pioneer John William Swilling, 82 pages, PB, illustrated, bibliography, index; 2001. Details the life of the man who named Phoenix, Arizona and captured Indian chief Mangas Colorados; falsely accused of a stagecoach robbery Swilling died in the Yuma jail only weeks before the guilty party was arrested. Sold over 250 copies. Book is being reissued by Globe Fall 2006.Encyclopedia of Stagecoach Robbery in Arizona, 230 pages, HB, illustrated, bibliography, index; 2003. This work details every stagecoach robbery in Arizona; Sold over 200 copies.Crime & Punishment in Early Arizona, 266 pages, PB, bibliography, index; 2004. This work details every recorded lynching and every legal hanging in Arizona, a history of two prisons and an alphabetical listing of prisoners at each. The prisoner lists provide the names, dates of commitment, crimes, sentences, and counties; 135 copies sold.

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