Tuesday, June 24, 2008
With all the flooding in the Midwest in recent weeks, I recalled this photo of a flood in Rondout, circa 1938.
It's a striking image with the steam engine barreling through the floodwaters and an unidentified man in coveralls holding his dog.
The tiny, unincorporated Rondout is located between Knollwood and Libertyville along Route 176. It grew around the railroad lines that passed through it and was originally an agricultural area known as Sulphur Glen. It was supposedly renamed Rondout when a business from Rondout, New York considered moving there.
The site is famous for the largest train robbery in U.S. history which occurred there on the night of June 12, 1924. Chicago gangsters, including the Newton Boys out of Texas, stopped a U.S. postal train on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and stole an estimated $3 million in cash, bonds and jewelry. The crime was master-minded from the inside by U.S. postal inspector, William Fahy.
Gang members (minus Fahy) boarded the train wearing gas masks and carrying revolvers at the Buckley Road crossing near Rondout. During the hold-up one of the gang, J.H. Wayne, was shot by another gang member when he was mistaken for part of the train crew. The injured man was seen in Chicago and reported to authorities.
Headlines for June 15 from the Chicago Tribune read “Dying Man Gives Clew [sic] to Mail Robbers and Loot.” Within a few days most of the gang were arrested, and by August, Fahy was arrested, too. All were found guilty and sentenced from three to twenty-five years in prison.
To this day, more than $1 million has never been recovered.