On this day, July 21, in 1873, Jesse James pulled off the first successful train robbery in the American West.

The bandits lay in waiting near Rock Island, Iowa, at the top of a hill around the end of a sharp curve. The gang had pried loose a rail and tied a rope to it. When the train's engineer saw the rope, he reversed the engine, but it was too late. The train turned on its side, killing the engineer.

From the bushes appeared masked gunmen, led by Jesse and his brother Frank. Panicked passengers and railroad workers dumped their loot into bags, and the gang rode off into the night letting out a rebel yell. The outlaws made off with $3,000.

- Scott McCabe