On the evening of April 27th, 1887 southern Arizona’s only passenger train, the Sunset Express, was making its run toward Tucson when a man stepped on to the tracks waving a red lantern, a warning of danger and the train stopped just short of a barrier. Shots rang out peppering the boiler with holes. Two masked men stepped out and ordered the crew down from the engine.
Meanwhile the Wells Fargo messenger, sensing a holdup, removed several thousand dollars from the safe and stuffed it into the cold pot-bellied stove. The robbers climbed in and found only a few scattered dollars lying on the floor.
They gathered in their meager haul, separated the engine from the rest of the train, climbed on and headed for Tucson.
The next day the engine was found abandoned. Trackers searched in vain trying to pick up the trail of the outlaws but found no sign. It was as if they vanished into thin air.
It wasn’t until one of the bandits was captured in El Paso that lawmen were able to solve the mystery of the vanishing train robbers.
They’d ridden the engine to the outskirts of Tucson, put it in reverse then walked into town.
Remember I said they peppered the boiler with rifle shots? Well, the engine backed down the tracks until it ran out of steam.
While posse’s were scouring the area the outlaws were living it up in the Old Pueblo.