Who thought a fun vacation would start with a robbery? The town of Eureka Springs celebrates one of the great moments in Eureka Springs history with the reenactment of the unsuccessful bank robbery of 1922. Town residents’ line downtown Spring Street to reenact the event and visitors to Eureka get a kick out of joining in too.
If you find yourself wandering downtown Eureka Springs in September and you see bank robbers running down Spring Street chased by a mob of people… don’t be too alarmed. Now you know what is going on.
It all started in September of 1922 when five men, camped in the woods of Leatherwood Creek (present day Lake Leatherwood), made plans to rob the bank in Eureka Springs. Three of them were seasoned bank robbers. George and Charles Price and Cy Wilson were once part of the notorious Henry Starr gang out of Oklahoma.
It was common for the townsfolk of Eureka Springs to stop business at 12 noon and go home for a bite to eat. The robbers figured it would be a quick job to duck in right after noon and be out before anyone really knew what had happened. The robbers set their watches and readied themselves for the next day.
Like clockwork, the robbers found themselves on Spring Street and rushed into the bank at exactly 12:05 (by their time). It was here that they realized that they must have had the wrong time. By the town clocks it was only 11:05 which meant the bank and streets were still full of townsfolk who had not yet rushed home for dinner. Drawing attention also drew fire from the armed townsfolk of Eureka Springs.
The first shoots fired were into the tires of the getaway car. It was a guess really but after the tire was shot, when the man in the car tried to drive away rather than getting out to “give a good cussin”… A resident, Mr. Burson figured the driver was up to no good and aimed again. The car never made it past Basin Spring Park. (Read a detailed account of the shoot-out). Residents of Eureka Springs quickly figured out what was going on and without harming an innocent bystander, killed three and captured the other two robbers.
The thwarted bank robbery garnered national attention for the little town of Eureka Springs. (Read actual newspaper accounts of the Eureka Springs Bank Robbery in the Tulsa World, Grand Rapids Herald, Arkansas Gazette, and Wichita Eagle).
The reenactment of Eureka Springs’ only bank robbery only takes place in September immediately following the antique automobile parade downtown. Reenactors work the crowd before so you will know who to cheer on and who to boo. Check Eureka Springs Official Calendar of Events to see when the next event occurs and discover other great events in town.