April 20, 2014
‘Train-robbing thing’ began in 1866 PDF Print E-mail

By Dakota Livesay
This week in the old west
During the Old West, it seemed like a normal occurrence for any outlaw gang to rob a train. This whole “train-robbing thing” started in 1866 by a gang most people have never heard of.
It was October 6, 1866. A gang with a nucleus of four brothers named Reno stopped the Ohio and Mississippi train, and ended up walking away with $10,000. This was the first of what was to become a tradition with outlaw gangs.
Until now, the Reno gang had robbed a few saloons and passed some counterfeit money. But, now they were in the big time. The spring of 1867, they robbed the county treasurer’s office in Gallatin, Missouri for over $22,000. With the Pinkertons on their trail, brother John Reno was captured and received a 40-year sentence.
But this didn’t deter the Reno’s. A year later, they robbed another bank for $14,000. This time they were all captured and tossed into jail. But their captivity didn’t last long. Before they could be tried, they cut a hole in the wall of the jail and escaped.
Posing as passengers, the Reno gang robbed their next train for $96,000.
The spring of 1868, when entering another express car, instead of finding the $100,000 they had expected, they found a car full of armed guards. Barely escaping, the three Reno brothers headed for Canada. Not as lucky, three other gang members were captured. And while they were being transported back to jail, a group of vigilantes hanged them.
Two of the Reno brothers were arrested when they returned to the United States, and the third was extradited from Canada. The three Reno brothers, along with another gang member, were being held in the New Albany, Indiana jail when a hundred men wearing red hoods broke into the jail and hanged the four from the ceiling beams. One could say without contradiction that the Reno brothers wouldn’t be escaping this jail.
Check out Dakota’s new book Living The Code by visiting www.LivingTheCode.com.