Did Old West outlaws ever tie women to train tracks?

You see it all the time in the Warner Bros. and Disney cartoons from decades ago. Wherever there’s an outlaw or bandit who kidnaps a maiden fair, usually some attractive saloon wench, he inevitably ties her up on some train tracks for the hero to rescue, which he usually does by picking her up. Apparently, the Dillenger wannabe just ties up the girl and places her on the tracks, not even securing her to it. And she, being of a shapely womanness, is too feminine to roll out of the fucking way

Did this ever happen? Was it like “walking the plank” for pirates? Or just something dreamed up by cartoonists to emphasize the dastardlyness of the swarthy criminal?

I don’t believe it ever really happened.

As for the cliche, this is what TV tropes has to say about where it came from:

From here:

I don’t know about cartoons, but I can’t remember a movie in which rope was not used to do the tying. It may not have been a tie worthy of a Boy Scout, but the ropes were always there.

Do you have any actual examples of an untied woman sitting helplessly on a track?

Crazily enough, TVTropes links back here.

Sorry, I meant to say that the woman was tied up, but not tied to the tracks itself. She was tied and simply placed on the tracks

I believe the OP was saying that the woman herself is tied up, but that she is not secured to the tracks by anything.

I can believe that. :slight_smile:

Back to the original question…only when they deserved it.

Yeah. Don’t you guys ever read the Straight Dope? Gfactor did a superbjob on that one.

On a related note - how about when someone is tied to the platform slowly dragging them into the big blade at the old sawmill? I think Snidely Whiplash did that as well as the old railroad bit.

Any real-life cites?

A more modern version would be James Bond and the laser in Goldfinger (IIRC)

I believe that threat happened to Curly too. His bald noggin ruined the saw.

Immortalized in song by The Coasters:


Michael Ondaatje does not provide a cite, but in the poem ‘In Boot Hill’ from ‘The Collected Works of Billy the Kid’, he makes the claim that
‘some (of the dead) were pushed under trains - a popular
and overlooked form of murder in the west.’

It is plausible - I’ll continue to hunt for something in his sources.

I’ve tried it. Their screams always give me headaches. Believe me, it’s not worth the trouble.

Real life? No. But the theatrical version is also traced back to Augustin Daly, in his play The Red Scarf.

Note that in Under the Gaslight, it’s a man tied to the tracks, and a woman rescues him. It’s also a man on the buzzsaw in The Red Scarf, though I don’t know how he was rescued, since the play has been lost.

Given the disparity between females & males in the Old West, most outlaws could think of other things to do to women than tying them on train tracks!

Except for those that are frequently secretly fond of each other.

Well, aren’t you modest. Apparently you helped out, too.

From the article:

So you’re the evil one? Is Sauron’s blog the real story?

Poe Pit and Pendulum?

No and yes, respectively.