Wednesday, July 15, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #24

November 10th, 1929 - THE GREAT SAUGUS TRAIN ROBBERY - Tom Vernon, a drifter and unemployed ranch hand with a sad background and a criminal record, took it into his head to rob the West Coast Limited as it came around the bend from the Saugus Train station, approaching the Baker Ranch (present day Saugus Speedway). He pulled up the spikes along several yards of track and then waited patiently for the train. At 7:45pm, the train made the bend and toppled off the tracks. Vernon, who fancied calling himself "Buffalo Tom" after his hero "Buffalo" Bill Cody, descended upon the scene at first posing as an employee of the railroad. He then produced a gun and relieved several passengers and crew of their valuables. Afterward, he headed back to Saugus on foot, stole a car from Wood's garage (next to the still-present Saugus Cafe) and hightailed it to Montana. There, he robbed another train with the exact same method . . . right down to accidentally dropping a letter at both scenes with his name on it. This lead police right to Vernon who was given a life sentence at Folsom prison. He was released in 1964, a decrepit old man, and died soon after of syphilis. It was the last California train robbery.

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