He fixed a rope to the roof, donned a mask and swung through a window of the messenger car. Inside the train, Perry got in a gunfight with a messenger named Daniel McInerney, then retreated to the train's roof and rode there to Lyons, Wayne County.
Spotted jumping from the roof of the train by the local sheriff and a doctor who'd come to treat the injured McInerney, Perry leaped down, ran to another platform, boarded a locomotive, started it up and drove away, headed west. Wayne County Sheriff Jerry Collins commandeered another train, and sped off in pursuit.
What follows is an account of the chase from the Wayne County Historian's Office:
When Perry realized that his pursuer was gaining on him, he reversed his engine and shot past the express train who followed suit by reversing its engines! Back and forth several times between
and Lyons the two iron horses zoomed passed each
other. Finally, the dropping steam pressure caused Perry to abandon his
locomotive. He ran across a field, stole a horse and cutter, abandoned that and
took off on foot. Surrounded and cornered by Collins and his men, the desperate
gunman, still armed had a gun battle with his captors before he gave up. This
exploit was widely reported throughout the country. In all the accounts Jerry
Collins’ bravery is praised. Newark
That chase wasn't the end of Curtis Perry's exploits, though. According to the Mammoth Book of Prison Breaks, Perry was sentenced to 49 years of hard labour in Auburn Prison. In October 1892, he escaped by digging a hole in the wall to an adjoining cell. While his inmate neighbour was out of his cell, Perry slipped through the wall and exited the neighbour’s unlocked cell. He made it out to the yard and hid in an outhouse until dark, hoping to scale the wall to freedom. But, he was spotted creeping around by guards, who beat him so hard one of their nightsticks broke.
Perry continued to try to escape, even being sentenced once to a 44 day stay in the prison's dungeons. He became more violent and in December 1893, was declared insane and sent to the Mattewan Asylum for Insane Criminals.
In April 1895, though, he and four other inmates there staged a bold break, and he fled to
. Perry was free for six days before
being recaptured and in the following months, was declared free of his insanity
and sent back to New Jersey . Shortly thereafter, he deliberately
blinded himself with two needles fixed in a piece of wood and was sent back to
Mattewan. In 1901, he was sent to Auburn , where he remained until his death on Dannemore State Hospital Sept
Perry's great train chase was eventually immortalized in a folk song.
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