In November of 1870, bandits pulled off the first train robbery in the American West. Read a summary of the story below and for more detail visit the original article featured in Tahoe Quarterly and written by Matthew Renda.
Leading up to the Heist
Frank Mitchell a wells Fargo guard was hunkered down with his partner on the Overland Express heading east from San Francisco when they heard a knock on the door. Mitchell and his partner were protecting what would now be 2.2 million dollars on its way to Virginia City.
When Marshall and his partner heard the knock they asked who was at the door prior to opening and the person yelled “Marshall.” So Mitchell assumed it was the conductor and opened the door to find that he had made a mistake. He was staring right into the end of a shotgun. The bandit entered the room along with some of his associates. They began to open the strongboxes and take most of the gold and stuff it into the bags they had brought with them. As the bags got full they chucked them out of the train into a nearby bush. Once they stole their share they exited the train and separated the bags equally between each other. They each got onto their horses and took off going in different directions.
After years of investigations, law enforcement officers were able to recover all but $3,000 worth of gold coins taken by the bandits. But it’s a sordid tale.
Intrigued? Read the full story written by Matthew Renda, a Santa Cruz–based writer and history fan. To date, he has never robbed a train.
Leave your comments on Tahoe Quarterly too. For more posts like this, see The History of Truckee’s Beloved Rainbow Bridge and Close-To-Home Ghost Towns For a Frightful Field Trip
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