|The Escambia River L&N train trestle in Flomaton.|
Last April, I finished reading a book called “Rube Burrow, Desperado” by Rick Miller of Harker Heights, Texas. This outstanding book detailed the criminal career of notorious train robber Rube Burrow, a Lamar County native who robbed a total of eight trains between December 1886 and September 1890.
Burrow’s method of train robbery set him apart from many others. Almost always, he’d stop the train with the passenger cars on a trestle, so that passengers would be afraid to get off and interfere for fear they’d fall off the trestle. Burrow carried out his eighth and final train robbery on Sept. 1, 1890 when he single-handedly robbed a northbound Louisville & Nashville passenger train on the trestle over the Escambia River, northeast of Flomaton. After this robbery, detectives and manhunters flooded the area, and Burrow was killed during a shootout in Linden on Oct. 9, 1890.
I’ve lived most of my life just a short drive from Flomaton, so last year I put a trip to Flomaton’s Escambia River train trestle on my “bucket list.” This past Saturday, my son and I made the short drive to this location and spent a few minutes checking it out. It was more than a little cool to see this unusual historic site for myself and to scratch another item off my "bucket list."
If you want to see this train trestle for yourself, it’s located just off Railroad Street in Flomaton, a short distance west of the intersection of Escambia County Road 25 (which is also called Martin Luther King Drive). Also, if you’re looking at it on the map, you’ll probably also notice that the technical name for the “Escambia River” here is actually Big Escambia Creek. You’ll also see that this location is just a short distance from the Florida state line.
According to Jerry Simmons, the coordinator at the McMillan Museum of Natural and Cultural History of Escambia County, Ala. and the Alabama Room Research Center for the Escambia County Historical Society at Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton, Big Escambia Creek was often referred to as the “Escambia River” in the past. Simmons also noted that the present-day trestle isn’t the original trestle. Apparently, the trestle was rebuilt at least once since the robbery and another set of tracks was also thought to have been added.
On Saturday, my son and I parked on the west end of the bridge, which runs parallel to the trestle, and then we walked east, crossing the bridge. This afforded us a great view of the trestle, and we also briefly discussed the possibility of walking the tracks over the trestle from one side to the other. However, we decided not to do so after seeing at least four “No Trespassing” signs on each end of the trestle. Rather than run the risk of becoming train-related outlaws ourselves, we settled for seeing the trestle from the bridge and discussing the robbery that happened there 124 years ago.
In the end, how many of you have been to the train trestle over the Big Escambia Creek in Flomaton? What did you think about it? Do you know of any other similar historic sites? Let us know in the comments section below.