Benson Train Robbery

dewcon4414

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Im trying to gather info on the Benson AZ train robbery where about a 1000 Mexican silver coins were blown into the air. Some say it happened just about 2 miles from Benson on the west side. Others say it occurred near the dry lake where the tracks begin to go up. I spent some time there and its obvious the current tracks are newer and the track doesnt go up until about 7 miles outside of Benson. Anyone elce hunting the area or have more info?
 

boogeyman

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Are you talking about the Wilcox train robbery? If so there are tons of accounts of it out there. Try Googling Willcox Train Robbery or Dobie dollars there's pictures of the rail car with the roof blown off etc. . If it is it's more like 5 mi. from the town of Willcox. If you go, try looking at old large trees some of the coins were recovered from the sides of the trees. Hope that helps you!
 
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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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oppps.. my bad. Yes im talking about Wilcox. There arent any trees in the area its wide open. Once you get to the dry lake it doesnt even have any foilage. I was at about 6 mile out or so and worked my way back toward the town. Im assumeing when it said 5 mile out its from the original old town. Ive been researching, but there isnt anything like being there especially with other people with information.
 

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Haven't been out there since 2000 By my research etc the dry lake bed closest to Willcox was the location. There was a small stand of trees that I think got plowed for the road. Original accounts ststed people were eye-balling silver dollars right after it happened. Met a gentleman back in 2000 or 2001 that had found two dollars (silver) one was bent pretty good. He wouldn't elaborate other than the lake. I couldn't blame him! Like I said, try Googling and ASK there's tons of info out there. I think Penfields book A guide to treasure has an account if I remember correctly.
 

mrs.oroblanco

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Yea - we have spent many hours there. The biggest thing that most people don't know (but some of the older folks do) is that the current train track is not exactly where it is now.

If you go and look around there, the dirt road along side the railroad tracks is where the original track was. (back in the days of the robbery).

If you go to one the museums in Willcox, you will see one of the "blown up" dollars. (I don't remember which one, but there is 2 in Willcox.)

There are no big trees there now - at all, in the area where the robbery was, however, there are some smaller trees (Willcox is just not a good area for any big trees), and a tree to the Willcox people are big scrub bushes. However, there is a couple of spots where there are cut down stumps that we found, and where we thought to be looking was the areas with large brush and scrub, that can hide a couple of horses - and in the area, there is a drop off from the new tracks, which may have been hard to see, from where the old tracks were.

We have come in from both directions (off 191 and from Willcox) and I believe that, if the lake has no water in it (which is does quite often, even though its supposed to be a dry lake), your best bet is to come in from the Willcox train station, as you will be able to pick out some of where the old track laid, and be able to measure approximately 5 miles. I also would not make it an "exact" 5 miles, because part of the train was detached from the engine, and no one really knows which part was at the five mile point. (the engine or the express car).

If you find some - we will need pictures.

 

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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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I could tell that they had removed an older track. The railroad has really been dragging the area and cleaning it back from the tracks. Id say a good 15 or 20 yards from the tracks have been scrapped. I came in from Wilcox and came out of the blacktop road just past the dry lake. My understanding is the train slowed to start up the grade when the robbery took place. They released the cars and told the engineer to continue up the grade. Im going to try on the other side of the dry lake nearer the grade and see what happens. Ill deffently drop some pictures.
 

mrs.oroblanco

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If you were following the track up from Willcox, you should very shortly be on a dirt road - one with alot of holes and garbage.

B
 
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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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Ive been out there and know the road and by my GPS the approximately location just before the dry lake. However, from what i read, the train was made to continues up the hill beyond 191 then the cars were released. That might have put the cars on the otherside of 191 and on the west side of the lake as apposed to the 5 mile area by the military reserve. I havent tried to google earth to see if it showed any odd areas.
 

mrs.oroblanco

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Don't take it personally - you've been out there, I lived there - no biggie. I was just pointing out that its not a paved road.

We have also dabbled on the other side of 191. Of course, then you are WAY beyond the 5 miles (which is still possible, as they didn't use too many mileage markers), and there is alot of brush across 191 on the other side.

What always bugged me was where they went to from the area. There are at least 3 stories (that are good possibilities). Also, the trip they took BEFORE the robbery - from the town of Willcox (the old general store) with their supplies for doing the deed, and different stories of where they went, where they stopped, and where they holed up.

Of one of the stories, there is an older guy in Willcox who actually went up into Dos Cabezas and found a cave that had an old saddle and some old food supplies - could be connected, maybe not.

If you go to the ranch that they stopped at, all three stories start looking a little weird, because it looks like they would have gone in the wrong direction (and the further across 191 you go, the further wrong they would have been going), or made one huge circle, of at least 15 miles, in which case, with all the people out to get them, would have been extremely difficult.

Its a VERY interesting robbery, to say the least.

Google Earth may help, but, after living there, I can tell you that the dry lake is not always dry, and it looks different every week, depending on the weather, wind, water, 4 wheel drives and ATV's, and I prefer "boots on the ground" to my GPS (I use the GPS to mark things when I find them, so I don't lose them :wink:)

Anyway, I thought you were looking for information.

B


Here is a couple of pictures of the train station I took about 5 months ago. (I like to play with black and white and sepia tones)


 

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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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Im so sorry, i didnt mean to seem like i was unapprecitive of your information. Its always nice to hear from someone in the area because they normally have more info than anybody. I think ill try once more this week to hit the area. I noticed someone put a portapotty at about the 5mile area... it may have been from the group that hunted there a week or so ago. I was kind of hopeing to hear from one of those people on here to see what they found. Thanks again and ill keep on hunting.
 

mrs.oroblanco

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A porta-potty??? :D :D :D :D :D

It's a good time to hunt there - Once June comes (and the monsoons), you won't be able to get in there very well.

Yea - we just moved here to South Dakota a few months ago from Pearce. Well, one end of our road had a Pearce address, the other end had a Willcox address. We used to work in Willcox until we moved here - used to go up that old road every chance we got. :wink:

Do you know the names of any of the people who went out there? If they're from that area, I might be able to hook you up to one of them.

B
 

boogeyman

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Mrs.Oroblanco

Thanks for your information, you answered a couple questions I had. I'd like to go back out there again after things slow down. Last trip was in 2001 & got short due to one of our parties getting sick.
 
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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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I only know it was a group out of pheonix one of the clubs. The railroad has really cleared out a lot of dirt near the tracks... about 20 or 30 yards back. Ill only be here a few more days and have been hunting here in Benson. Then its off to Carlsbadd and Big Ben working our way back to a beach in Fl to do some beach hunting.
 

boogeyman

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cptbil said:
Dewcon4414

Don't forget to check out ;D the " Worm Holes " :tongue3:
While you're at Big Bend ?

Got any GPS waypoints or directions for those? I mean since you seem to have seen every treasure known to man in four or five states.

Oh, I was correct. You wouldn't be able to state that you knew who Mr. Fenton was.
 

cptbil

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Dewcon4414:
Are you going back to Fla via Houston, Tx ?
If so, swing a little south, on I-37, and come by Mathis, (Corpus Chrisit)
I'll be glad to meet you and we can have :coffee2:
I have some info on a lost CW Train back in "Devil's Swamp" :tard:
"Devil's Swamp" is east of Branson Fla. and west of "Cedar Key" Fla.
 
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dewcon4414

dewcon4414

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Sorry Cptbill, i couldnt get internet until today. We traveled to Carlsbadd and now we are in Biloxi, MS. My wife wanted to see how much its changed. Its so bad from what we remember... all the old homes are gone and they have half of 90 being reworked. Im going to try and do some detecting while im here. Then off to Gulfshores and little more beach time. Not sure how well ill do here since all the beach seems NEW. Thanks for the coffee offer thou.... i could have used that going thru Huston. What a mad house in the mornings.
 

boogeyman

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mrs.oroblanco said:
Don't take it personally - you've been out there, I lived there - no biggie. I was just pointing out that its not a paved road.

We have also dabbled on the other side of 191. Of course, then you are WAY beyond the 5 miles (which is still possible, as they didn't use too many mileage markers), and there is alot of brush across 191 on the other side.

What always bugged me was where they went to from the area. There are at least 3 stories (that are good possibilities). Also, the trip they took BEFORE the robbery - from the town of Willcox (the old general store) with their supplies for doing the deed, and different stories of where they went, where they stopped, and where they holed up.

Of one of the stories, there is an older guy in Willcox who actually went up into Dos Cabezas and found a cave that had an old saddle and some old food supplies - could be connected, maybe not.

If you go to the ranch that they stopped at, all three stories start looking a little weird, because it looks like they would have gone in the wrong direction (and the further across 191 you go, the further wrong they would have been going), or made one huge circle, of at least 15 miles, in which case, with all the people out to get them, would have been extremely difficult.

Its a VERY interesting robbery, to say the least.

Google Earth may help, but, after living there, I can tell you that the dry lake is not always dry, and it looks different every week, depending on the weather, wind, water, 4 wheel drives and ATV's, and I prefer "boots on the ground" to my GPS (I use the GPS to mark things when I find them, so I don't lose them :wink:)

Anyway, I thought you were looking for information.

B


Here is a couple of pictures of the train station I took about 5 months ago. (I like to play with black and white and sepia tones)



Do you have any further information on the cave part? Hadn't heard that part or account.

The sepia toned print is excellent really like that one! Was that one a print or digital? Bet you could do some 11 X 14s frame them & they'd sell like hot cakes!
 

mrs.oroblanco

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The cave part is from local talk. (and some local findings a few years ago.)

The basic story is that, after the robbers left the ranch, they held up in a cave up by Dos Cabezas or east of there in the Chiricahua's.

In 1918, some prospectors came across a cave, named Lions Cave, and, after poking around inside, found an old saddle, old cans, etc - signs of an extended stay. It was called Lion's Cave, because a guy who used to hunt mountain lions used the cave while on hunts.
But the articles did not belong to him.(the hunter).

It is thought, locally, that the saddle, etc., may have been a place one of the robbers held up in for awhile, which is why they were not caught together. (Joe George ended up stabbed to death in Mexico and Grant Wheeler shot himself in Colorado after being cornered). But, the money was never found, and between them, they didn't have $20 on them.

The two were very popular among the local ranchers, but they were also both bumbling thieves. They screwed several of their "heists".

One actually worked for the rancher on the Riggs Ranch (which borders our Arizona property), and they both worked wrangling and as cowboys between their crime careers.

Apparently, the prospector who found the cave, did not find the coins.

B
 

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