read between the lines

A no-bull guide to freight-hoppers on and off the Web

By Wes Modes

Information sources for hobos are few and far between. Hobo lore and legend is largely an oral tradition. There are a few sites on the Internet you can check out for information on train-hopping. There are also several good publications with how-to and numerous publications featuring vintage and modern hobo stories.

catching out

    North Bank Fred's Freighthopping Page
    Stories by North Bank Fred and others, fabulous photographs, links, and a bibliography. Well-organized and complete. Updated frequently.

    Hopping Freight Trains in America
    Newly revised edition of Duffy Littlejohn's trainhopping how-to book. Very complete. Largely accurate info. Pleasantly full of bravado and swagger.

    The Train Hopper's Cooperative Information Source
    While this site is now closed, it still has some good info. This was a top-notch site with a good deal of well-presented information. This was the on-line source for train hoppers to find information on various cities throughout the Eastern US as it pertains to riding the rails. Included a very good section on what cars to ride.

    Train Hoppers Space
    These pages have not been significantly updated since 1996. Vintage Web. These pages are a collection of stuff that is of interest to freight train hoppers--information sources, how-to, stories, maps and links to other sites. The site has an extensive bibliography of freight-hopping publications.

on the road

in the jungle

back home

    North American Railroad Frequencies
    A list of all of the frequencies used by North American railroads. This is useful for those yuppie hobos who invested in a scanner.

    Tiger Map Service Browser
    This service is provided courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of the Census. It shows you a map of any location in the United States. You can display railway lines and even zoom in for a close up view of freight yards.

hysteria

    Do You Really Want to Hop Trains?
    This'll tell you in great detail how you will be crushed and squished beyond recognition if you ride freight trains. It's provided as counterpoint. A typically hysterical response from rail fans, who tend to hate scummy hobos. It dissapeared from the web for a while, but I found this now notorious article from a rec.railroad newsgroup at another site.

    Dead Train Bums
    An even more shrilly hysterical site that alternately reveres and reviles the hobo. It begins obstensively with the kind-hearted notion of keeping people from getting hurt on the rails. However, it reveals a certain glee at the thought of scummy, free-loading, criminal train-riding bums getting everything they have coming to them. Whatever.


Original version published in the May 23-29, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

Copyright © 1996, 2002 Wes Modes

E-mail to: modes_at_thespoon.com