For the Reno Gang, the guys who invented the Train Robbery, this day in 1868 was the pinnacle. It was their fourth job, and the best one of them all. Twelve members of the gang quietly boarded the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad train as it stopped at the train depot in Marshfield, Indiana. Don’t look for it on the map, it no longer exists. On Departure, the gang overpowered the engineer and uncoupled the passenger cars, which turned the crime scene…the express car…into a getaway vehicle. The Reno Gang, led by Civil War Veteran Frank Reno, took over the express car, tossed express messenger Thomas Harkins off the train which killed him, and broke into the safe. They got away with a staggering fortune by the lights of the era… netting an estimated $96,000. This robbery gained national attention and was published in many major papers. It was called “The Great Train Robbery” but later the British “Great Train Robbery” which happened in 1963, brought in 2.3 million pounds and became “The Great Train Robbery” which demoted this “Great Train Robbery” to just “A” Great Train Robbery. It was the last big success for the Reno Gang too, because when they tried to pull another job that June, the Pinkertons ambushed them and captured one of the gang. He turned on the others, gave away locations, and six of them were captured and hanged by vigilantes within the month…all of them from the same tree. This place IS on the map. It’s called “Hangman Crossing, Indiana.” There’s a plaque. Frank Reno and guest stars pulled off a few more jobs, but late that year, he got arrested in Windsor Ontario, and was extradited back into the United States. Shortly after he returned to US Soil, another lynch mob broke into the jail and put him to the noose like so many of his colleagues. Same Fate, but Different Tree. He was in federal custody at the time of the lynching, and he’s the only prisoner in US history to be lynched while nominally in Federal Custody. The US Marshall’s don’t talk about that one much.
The “Almanac of Absurdities” Theme sounder is derived from a very snappy piece of music:
Twelve Empty Cups”
Written & Performed by:
Derek R. Audette – (C) MMIV
Grateful Acknowledgements to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. “Neo Western” Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attriibution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks.