If you’re looking for an amazing historic place in Oregon to hike and explore, look no further. It’s known as the Siskiyou Station, and the history here is incredible — this is where the last train robbery known in the United States happened.
On a dark and stormy night on October 11, 1923, Twins Ray and Roy D’Autremont were 23 years old when they were joined by their teenage brother, Hugh, in robbing Southern Pacific’s Gold Special train in hopes of collecting the half-million dollars in gold rumored to be on board that day. As the train made it’s way up the Siskiyou Pass, it slowed to enter Tunnel 13 when the brothers hopped on board. They ordered the conductor Sidney Bates to stop the train at gunpoint and attempted to blow the locked door of the mail car with a stick of dynamite.
Not knowing how powerful the blast would be, they blew up the whole mail car and the clerk inside with it. They shot and killed three railroad employees who heard the commotion, who were staying in the stay house right next to the tracks. Finally, they blasted the poor conductor right in the head with a shotgun and fled into the woods.
To make matters worse, there was no gold to be found. There was a nationwide manhunt that included the federal government, Oregon National Guard troops, local posses and angry railroad workers. But the brothers laid low, then slipped through the dragnet.
It wasn’t until years later in 1927 when the younger brother caught while was serving in the military in the Philippines. Shortly thereafter, the twins were arrested in Ohio.
Forensic research lead to a conviction of the brothers, and Ray DeAutremont was the last of the brothers to be released from prison, on October 27, 1961. He was elderly now of course, and even wrote a book about the robbery.
Years later in November of 2003, the tunnel burned and was rebuilt. When exploring here, you can find old bunk and maintenance shacks and a great view of the Colestin Valley at the other side of the tunnel. Due to the poor maintenance of the tracks, the trains are said to move pretty slow. The Siskiyou Summit rail line is said to also be the steepest in use on the West Coast. The rail line was reopened in 2015 and is currently operated by Corp. Railroad.
How to get here
You will find this station in southern Oregon, heading I-5 south out of Ashland. On the west corner of the Mt. Ashland off-ramp, you can park in a gravel area and hike up a hill toward the station. You can then hike through the tunnel which makes for about 2 miles round trip, but do keep in mind this IS considered trespassing and can be extremely dangerous as trains run here regularly. Hit this map here on Google for directions.