This Day in Wyoming History… UPRR Express Train Robbed at Wilcox

“On Friday morning June 2, 1899 a party of [6] masked robbers held up the first section of train number one of the Union Pacific Rail Road Co about 10 miles west of Rock Creek Station Albany Co Wyoming and after dynamiting bridges, mail and express cars and robbing the later, disappeared. The second section of this train being the Overland Limited passenger, following ten minutes behind, was fortunately stopped by the breakman of [the] first section who escaped from the robbers.” — excerpt from message sent by UPRR to the Laramie County Sheriff June 11, 1899

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery. (WSA Sub Neg 21457)

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery.
(WSA Sub Neg 21457)

For rest of June, confusing reports swirled around the country as members of the Curry and Wild Bunch were pursued by posses of lawmen, soldiers and concerned citizens. The situation escalated further when Sheriff Joe Hazen of Converse County was killed in a confrontation with the outlaws at Dugout Creek, 10 miles north of Casper. By the middle of June, rewards of up to $3000 per outlaw were offered jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and US Marshall’s Office.

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.  (WSA Sub Neg 9720)

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.
(WSA Sub Neg 9720)

 

The interior of the railroad car.  (WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The interior of the railroad car.
(WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The posses included many of the most notable lawmen in the area. These men were determined to bring the outlaws to justice by any means necessary, including the use of a pack of bloodhounds brought out from Beatrice, Nebraska. The high profile nature of the crime caught the attention of the Pinkerton Detective Agency who also sent “operatives” to aid the investigation. It is believed that US Marshall Frank Hadsell and Tom Horn, both of whom were involved in the investigation, were Pinkerton operatives. Hadsell would later pursue Horn himself and orchestrate his capture.

Various military organizations offered their assistance. Governor DeForest Richards ordered a group from the state militia to join in the pursuit and he visited Casper himself to be updated on the situation. Regular US Army troops were also called out from Fort Washakie and a contingent from the Wind River reservation also participated.

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in order to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.  (WSA Sub Neg 27294)

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in railcars to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.
(WSA Sub Neg 27294)

By the end of June, the trail had gone cold. In August 1900, the Union Pacific express train was again robbed at Tipton, Wyoming, netting the bandits nearly $50,000 in gold. The Wild Bunch was also credited with this crime, but they eluded the posse again.

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