The Union Pacific Mail Train Robbery Part 1

On August 14, 1926, just past midnight, $245,000 was stolen from the Union Pacific Mail Train near Rawlins, Wyoming. The bandits escaped without a trace, leaving Postal Inspectors with an intensive, but successful two-month manhunt.

The Plan

In the summer of 1925, John Kamariotis (Johnny the Greek) met with old friend and bootlegger, John Kearns at a pool hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In a fit of competition, the two agreed they could pull off a perfect train heist with the help of Kamariotis’ friend and railway postal clerk, Jack Madigan.

Madigan had been a clerk for seven years between Cheyenne and Rock Springs and was the only armed member of the rail crew, making his involvement even more crucial to the plot.

Kearns stayed in Salt Lake City, where he recruited participants, while Kamariotis met with Jack Madigan near Rock Springs. With promise that Madigan would only have to submit to a hold up and deter postal inspectors, he eagerly agreed.

Kamariotis returned to Salt Lake City to meet with Kearns the following May. Kearns had been successfully recruiting during Kamariotis’ absence.

The Plan Cont.

The first recruit was Will Bradford, a bootlegger and gambler. Followed by Howard E. Barnett, a taxi driver with a sketchy reputation. The four men worked to create the perfect crime with each man in an assigned role.

Lack of money became a major obstacle, so Kamariotis called upon his friend Paul Sourlukos to fund the operation for a cut of the loot obtained.

On June 26, 1926, John Kearns and Paul Sourlukos purchased a car in the first overt act of the upcoming robbery. Later that day, Sourlukos obtained two .45 automatic pistols for Barnett and Kearns.

Accompanying Kearns on this trip was Edna Nagley (Evans) who knew of the plot.

On June 27, 1926, Barnett, Bradford, Kamariotis, and Kearns left in the car for two weeks touring between Cheyenne and Green River surveying the roads, train schedules, and routes.

The Plan Cont.

Eventually the men decided to hideout in the South Pass Rooms, a small hotel owned by Theodore Theodore. Theodore was a conveniently located friend of Kamariotis who would join the plot as his suspicions grew.

To seem less conspicuous, the men took up jobs in the surrounding areas. Edna Nagley was brought to assist with managing the South Pass Rooms with Theodore.

In July, Raymond “Kid” Ellis, a well-known criminal met with Kamariotis and joined the plan just a month before its undertaking.

On August 1st, Kamaroitis rented a house in Rock Springs where the final meeting took place a week later.

The eight men agreed that on August 14, 1926, just after midnight, they would attack the Union Pacific No. 5 Train near Rawlins, Wyoming.


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