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Black Jack Ketchum: Train Robber


In the days of the infamous Hole in the Wall Gang, many railroad robberies took place in the American Southwest. One of the most notorious outlaws of the era was Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum, who robbed his last train August 16, 1899, near Raton Pass on the Colorado/New Mexico border. Ketchum’s solo holdup of the Colorado and Southern Railroad, and the later robbery of a railroad company store by members of his gang in Trinidad, Colo., where a deputy sheriff was killed, energized a massive manhunt that soon had Ketchum behind bars.

Ketchum’s six-gun, an ivory-gripped, engraved Colt revolver, was shown in period photographs before his trial and eventual hanging on April 26, 1901. While the bandit received an $8.50 funeral, his embellished handgun was taken by John James Dallison, the Trinidad chief of police. Passed down through the Dallison family generation by generation, this .45 Colt revolver was donated to the National Firearms Museum in early 2011.

Ketchum’s six-shooter is just one of thousands of guns in the collection that reveal intriguing stories of the past at the National Firearms Museum, located at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va.

Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the National Firearms Museum’s extensive galleries offer visitors the opportunity to see guns that came over on the Mayflower, military pieces from our nation’s many conflicts as well as competition guns used at Camp Perry’s National Matches. For more information, visit, e-mail or call (703) 267-1600.