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Step right up, folks, and let me spin you a yarn about the rascally rambler of the rails, none other than Reuben Houston Burrow, alias Rube Burrow! Born on a December day in the sweet home state of Alabama back in 1855, Rube was no ordinary lad. This buckaroo went from the family farm to becoming one of the most notorious train-robbers to rustle up a storm in the Southern and Southwestern United States. They say he rode the rails and left his mark from Alabama to Arkansas and beyond.
The final years of the wild west were winding down, but Rube wasn't ready to hang up his spurs just yet. He teamed up with his brother Jim and a posse of bandits that would make Black Bart himself tip his hat. They went on a tear, robbing trains left and right, making sure to hit up Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, the Indian Territory, and even the vast expanse of Texas.
Now, let me tell you about Rube's antics that would make Mark Twain himself hoot with laughter. It all began when Rube decided farming was just too darn tame for his taste. He hightailed it to Texas to work on a ranch, thinking he'd become a bona fide rancher someday. But life had other plans, partner. A twist of fate led him to the outlaw path, and before you could say "cowpoke," he was robbing trains faster than you can say "yeehaw."
But let's mosey on over to Rube's escapades aboard them choo-choo trains. He and his gang boarded the Texas & Pacific Express with a plan slicker than a greased pig. Holding the engineer at gunpoint, they stopped that train on a trestle, daring any would-be heroes to try and stop 'em. And they made off with quite a haul too, proving that when Rube's in town, there ain't no safe in sight.
But that ain't all, folks. Rube's antics took him from Texas to Arkansas and even down to Mississippi. And you can bet your boots, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was hot on his trail. But Rube was slippery as an eel in a butter churn, escaping shootouts, dodging posses, and even pulling a disappearing act worthy of Houdini himself.
The climax came when Rube was finally cornered by a posse in Alabama hill country. Oh, he tried to talk his way out of it, spinning tales that could've made a rattlesnake chuckle. But his storytelling skills couldn't save him from his fate. On that fateful day, bullets flew, and Rube met his maker in a blaze of glory.
But even in death, Rube left his mark. His body was paraded like a sideshow attraction, and folks were snatching buttons and locks of hair like they were souvenirs from a Wild West circus. He may be gone, but Rube Burrow's legend lives on in the dusty annals of history, a true Alabama original who robbed trains and spun yarns as tall as the tales told 'round a campfire.
So there you have it, folks, the wild ride of Rube Burrow, the Alabama outlaw who turned train robbery into an art form. Next time you hear a distant train whistle blow, you might just wonder if Rube's spirit is still out there, riding the rails with a devilish grin and a twinkle in his eye.
The Birmingham Free Press was established in 1997 as an independent news and entertainment source. We publish a variety of books, magazines, and comics, along with our flagship, broadsheet newspaper.