The Most Daring Train Heists in History

Land transportation was dependent mostly on animals until the introduction of trains and railroads which became popular in the 1800s. This mode of transportation was convenient, cut travel time significantly and was relied upon heavily for travel and trade. Trains soon became a target for bandits who planned and executed major train robberies. They stole money, gold, silver, precious jewels and other valuables. Here are 5 daring train robberies in history that definitely stood out.

1. The DeAutremont Heist

In October, 1923, twin brothers, Roy and Ray DeAutremont, along with their younger brother Hugh, ambushed a Southern Pacific train in Oregon. The trio thought that there was $40,000 worth of gold on the mail cart. Their plan was not carefully thought out and failed. They used too much dynamite to blast through the door of the secured mail cart, destroying the cart and killing the mail clerk in the process. The train’s conductor, engineer and fireman were fatally shot. After not getting any gold, they fled the scene and were on the run for three years until they were eventually apprehended and charged for their crime.

2. The Great Gold Robbery

About £12,000 of gold was stolen while being transported by train from London to Folkestone. On the night of 15th May, 1855, three boxes filled with gold, secured with iron bars and locks were loaded on a train in London. The boxes were then loaded on a boat in Folkestone to Paris without anyone realizing that the gold had been stolen and replaced with lead shot. This robbery was an inside job committed by employees of the rail service company, a former employer who was dismissed and a professional criminal. The thieves were eventually caught.

3. The Verdi Train Robbery

The first train robbery in Nevada took place in 1870 in the town of Verdi. The train carried about $60,000 worth of silver and gold. Five men boarded the train after setting up barriers across the track. They detached the engine and express cart from the rest of the train, packed about $41,000 in gold and silver into bags and escaped on horses. They had to leave the rest of the gold and silver behind because it was too heavy to carry. The men, along with their three accomplices were later caught after a reward was promised for finding them.

4. The Wilcox Train Robbery

Butch Cassidy was the leader of the Wild Bunch, a famous group of robbers of the 19th century. The Wilcox Train Robbery was one of their many heists. In Wyoming, on 2nd June, 1899, the first section of a two-section train was flagged down by members of the gang. The engineer was forced by the armed thieves to cross a bridge which was then destroyed by dynamite. The safe with the cash and valuables was opened using dynamite and the robbers escaped with over $50,000 in cash, gold, bank notes, watches and other valuables.

5. The Rondout Train Robbery

The largest train robbery recorded in US history occurred on 12th June, 1824 in Rondout, Illinois. The 4 Newton brothers had robbed over 80 banks and 6 trains. Two brothers disguised as train workers boarded the train, held the engineer at gunpoint and forced an unscheduled stop in Rondout. The rest of the gang and their accomplices were in Rondout waiting in stolen cars. They stole cash, bonds and jewels totaling $3 million. The thieves were eventually caught and some of the stolen items were recovered. A quantity of the money was never found.

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