Train heist site in Garretttsville will be dedicated

by JEREMY NOBILE RECORD-COURIER REPORTER Published:

Garrettsville -- In fall 2012, a Garrettsville historian dreamed of memorializing one of the village's claims to fame in American lore. Tonight (May 14), that dream will come to fruition.

The state will honor a Garrettsville site that was the last "great train robbery" in American history. The tale features a gang robbing a locomotive of the modern-day equivalent of $750,000 in classic gangster fashion nearly 80 years ago.

Julie Thompson, a Garrettsville native and Hiram College graduate, has been studying the history of the heist and working with local and state officials to acquire a historical designation for the spot where the Garrettsville train depot was once located off Route 88 near S & K Sales & Service.

First responders in the Garrettsville fire that decimated the historic Buckeye Block in March will be recognized at the event as well, Thompson said. Any first responders with questions about attending the event can contact Thompson at 330-979-1882.

The historical marker will be cemented in place May 15 near a portion of the Portage Hike & Bike Trail at the site where railroad tracks once passed the former depot.

There, in 1935, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, an American public enemy and half of the notorious Karpis-Barker Gang, commanded a group of about seven gangsters armed with machine guns and explosives who robbed the train of the modern-day equivalent of about $715,000 in cash and bond securities.

Karpis, who was eventually apprehended in New Orleans and sentenced to life in prison, spent 26 of those years in Alcatraz, longer than any other inmate.

The descent of FBI agents on the town after the heist is where James A. Garfield High School got its G-Men name.

Email: jnobile@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4155

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