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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Fri., May 16, 2014, midnight

From our archives, 100 years ago

Two train bandits used dynamite and gunfire in an attempt to rob the Great Northern’s “crack train,” bound for Spokane, but they got away with nothing.

Two masked men snuck aboard the baggage car at Rexford, Montana, and after a few miles climbed over the coal car, pulled out revolvers and ordered the engineer to stop the train. They “fired several shots to frighten the curious,” and then they ordered the conductor to disconnect the mail car, which they thought held money.

Then they ordered the engine and mail car to proceed to a remote spot several miles away. Then they fired seven shots into the mail car, “to scare the mail clerk.” Then they blew one of the doors off with dynamite. The mail clerk had already escaped out the opposite door with the registered letters.

The bandits rifled through a few mail sacks and found only sacks of magazines and other worthless items. Defeated, they vanished down the track, empty-handed.

Witnesses said they believed the masked men were foreigners, who had mistaken this train for a different train carrying large amounts of “treasure.”

Bloodhounds and special agents were searching for the men.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1939: The federal government began its first food stamp program in Rochester, New York.

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