read between the lines

A no-bull guide to freight-hoppers on 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.

catching out

    The Train Hopper's Cooperative Information Source
    This is a top-notch site with a good deal of well-presented information. This is the place for train hoppers to find information on various cities throughout the Eastern US as it pertains to riding the rails. Includes a very good section on what cars to ride.

    Train Hoppers Space
    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.

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

    Freight-Hopping with Bill Mellman
    Pictures, stories, and links, including photos of Tennessee Pass. The site is a little disorganized, but offers exclusive pictures of Bill's freight trips.

on the road

in the jungle

    Hobo Jungles: A Documentary Film
    Stories about railriding and filmmaking from the unique perspective of independent filmmaker Sarah George.

    Riding the Rails
    The companion web site for the film by Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell, Riding the Rails. The site also features train-hopping stories and links. Also take a look at the companion site about the book.

    Hobo Times' Home Page
    The Hobo Times, America's journal of wanderlust, is published by the National Hobo Association. The NHA has thousands of members throughout America devoted to train-hopping and hobo lore. Recently given a face lift.

back home

    The Train-Hoppers FAQ
    Now, answers to all those nagging questions you have. Everything except the obvious questions you'll need to answer yourself: Should you hop a train?

    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.


    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 page that "reveals the truth about jumping trains." 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.

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

Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing and Virtual Valley, Inc. and Wes Modes

E-mail to: