Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Great North Bend Train Robbery

unrelated train car in North Bend w/ unrelated scoundrels
If asked where the first US train robbery occurred you might think it was in the Old West right? Everyone knows that because of movies.
Wrong. It happened in the Old Northwest, if you will, right outside Cincinnati OH on May 5, 1865, in North Bend, OH whose other claims to fame is being the home of two US Presidents named Harrison, as well as the resting place of John Cleves Symmes.

Under cover of darkness, several men apparently removed one rail to stop the 8:00 PM Ohio & Mississippi train that had departed from Cincinnati bound for St Louis MO with over one hundred passengers.

After the train was stopped from the derailment, twenty armed men "with the vilest oaths, demanded the money and valuables of the passengers." The scoundrels then blew open several safes that were said to contain over $30,000 in U.S. bonds.

With no serious injuries to the passengers or the perpetrators, the robbers made off with the loot and fled across the Ohio River into Kentucky. Military troops were called and sent to hunt down the outlaws who were traced south through Verona, Ky., but were never captured.

the Ohio River from North Bend looking toward KY
Another Indiana train robbery a year later in 1866 is sometimes listed as the "first" but because this 1865 North Bend event occurred during the last months of the Civil War and the suspects, although wearing civilian clothes, were thought by some to be members of the Confederate Army, many historians consider this a military action rather than a civilian train robbery. Since no one was ever caught I suppose we will never really know. The infamous brothers Frank and Jesse James were even suspected as the orchestrators of what a Cincinnati newspaper described as “one of the boldest robberies that we have been called upon to chronicle.”

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