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As I journal these train hoppers I am always amazed at how similar they are to the hoboes of old. Having scouted the rail yard for three days now I felt confident that I could "catch out" without much trouble. But just to be on the safe side I decided to stash my backpack in the bushes near the tracks where I would try and hop the train.
Finally, about 3:30 am and after drinking about six cups of coffee and saying hello to numerous drunken tourists with strange accents - I heard the throaty rumble of diesels approaching from the north. Unfortunately, the disposable cameras I had brought were insufficient to capture the low lit trees.
As night approached I hid on my hole and tried to get a radio station on my cheap transistor radio. As we headed south and on past Hope, Hope BC that is, the train picked up speed and travelled probably fifty miles per hour - it seems anyway.
But after what seemed like an eternity the train finally slowed noticeably and turned a corner where the lights seems to dim. Train hopping is a long-established tradition in the US, particularly popular in the Great Depression when the jobless took to the rails to find work. So why do modern Americans, who have safe lives, choose to take up such a dangerous activity?
Pete Aadland, executive director of the rail safety charity California Operation Lifeline that promotes safety on the rails, dismisses the notion that train hopping today provides an authentically American experience or any real connection with the spirit of the 1930s.
A suspicious item destroyed at Old Trafford on Sunday was a training device accidentally left behind by a private company.
Dad’s Job Isn’t So BadAs a young man, Bert Stratton resisted joining his family property rental company.
The Life Of A Ballerina Dick Gordon talks to one young, Russian-trained ballerina, Grier Cooper. After The ReunionNorma Kathman and her husband never kept it a secret that their son Ryan was adopted. Spend ThriftTerri Thompson was embarrassed as a child when her mother dragged her to thrift stores to try on clothes. I could also see clearly the white CN security truck racing up and down the rail yard about every half hour. They say you spend fifty percent of your time just waiting and watching when train hopping. I sat directly across the street in the park where I could watch both the bush and the rail yard. I climbed out after only five minutes inside and was welcomed on the platform with a real Christmas scene.
I very slowly extracted myself from the thicket of thorns and slowly proceeded west down the tracks. I only had enough strength left to pull on a rain slick and cover my pack with a garbage bag.
Then a rather handsome looking middle aged woman with a lovely pink evening gown responded.

Why don't you git on there and it'll take you?' So we did." Tuck's face is grizzled - he has spent many nights sleeping rough and his voice speaks of tobacco.
And later, as the push towards the less developed West Coast began, settlers and adventurers alike jumped on board.Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang, famously ended up serving 30 days in jail for vagrancy after train hopping his way to Niagara Falls in the 1890s. She knew it was dangerous, but for three years, she courted danger and traveled the country by train. In fact, Norma closely chronicled Ryan's life just in case he ever chose to reconnect with his birth mother. She still remembers going to school in one particularly hideous outfit: a secondhand skirt altered to make bell bottoms.
He talks with Dick about where he got the idea to teach children in refugee camps to make kites.
The preceding two days I had been alarmed several times but I don't know if it was paranoia or lack of experience or both. Train hopping, sometimes referred to as freight hopping, is against the law in all US states. He is sitting round a campfire, along with many similarly raggedy hobos in what is known as a hobo jungle. For men like Tuck and his Hobo Jungle companions such as Wrong Way ("guess they call me that 'cos I'm going the wrong way most of the time"), Bolty ("half my face is metal") and Firecracker Wendy ("my dad was an alcoholic, I first jumped the rails going to his funeral"), are what you might term professional hobos - welcomed by the residents of Britt, including museum director, Linda Hughes. But I would say that it's not romantic, it's illegal and it's dangerous.The adrenalin rush associated with riding the rails is often cited by seasoned train hoppers as their drug of choice. There is a special bond between them that hardship and travel have honed into their colorful characters.
I had felt sure that when I walked along the tracks and along the long dike that separated the town from the rail yard a security truck would show up. The train eventually stopped in Kamloops around 4:00 pm and the crew changed in about half an hour.
As we passed Chilliwack BC I noticed an alarming number of large train yards with huge spotlights.
But these particular men and women are all guests at the National Hobo Convention, held on the second weekend of every August since 1900 in the town of Britt, Iowa.First devised as a way of putting Britt on the map, it's now the longest running hobo gathering in the US. Eventually, New Orleans became the closest thing she had to a home, so after Hurricane Katrina hit it, she finished a farming job she had and headed to the coast. She could find everything she wanted - at affordable prices that often go to support charities. Dana James and Patricia Coleman were newlyweds traveling across Asia on a tight budget when they met a friendly man who wanted to give them a generous present.
I later found about five of them in Vancouver and will write about them in separate articles.
It was a strategy that worked well on D-Day but maybe I would just be a better target for security too.
I was a bit disappointed when I learned the best scenery was south of Kamloops and that I only had about five frames left in the one disposable camera. And if that was not bad enough, not just barbed wire topped fences but razor wire topped fences!

The train had stopped.I noticed a security yard behind and a large tower ahead about one hundred yards. Homeless hobos, immigrant workers, mostly from South America, and thrill-seeking US citizens surreptitiously all hitch rides, despite the increased use of electronic surveillance and tightened security around rail yards. In this 2009 conversation with host Dick Gordon, Hunter, 23 and a pre-nursing student, recalls helping cleaning efforts in the city and how her travels helped her figure out what she wants to do with her life. The stories especially of the young people I had branded "the Wanderers", mostly from Ontario, had enlivened and inspired me.
Another thing: The Parks Canada truck would show up too and even shone its spotlight towards me.
The train stopped at least six times to let other high priority trains go past heading east. Approaching one of them I realized they were paths but so steep they must be hard to climb even in summer! My second goal was to keep in touch with the young people, mostly in their mid to late twenties who I had met in Winnipeg earlier that year.
Everything tends to brake or get torn when train hopping, not to mention getting filthy and full of rust. I rode the trains for like 25 years, man, 24 hours a day."Tuck is one of those who went in search of work, and ended up seeing the world.
There are no statistics available related directly to train hopping.But in California, there are about 90 railroad-related deaths every year, according to Operation Lifesaver. It was unusually to find so many train hoppers in one place at one time because they usually travelled solo or in twos only. But in Winnipeg in mid summer of 2004 there were about fifteen and they all knew each other. Three hundred feet above the raging Fraser River the train clung to the canyon walls and slithered through several tunnels as well. I stood there for a moment and holding my briefcase up and both arms outstretched like a scarecrow I realized I was standing in the middle of a bunch of Devil's Clubs with huge thorns.
I had visions of giving myself up to uniformed authorities and being handed several fines and being driven off the property by police.
Across the tracks on the other side was a big body of water and up above it was something I remember seeing every day as a youth growing up in east Vancouver - the lights of Grouse Mountain! Finally I got my breathing back and at the top I threw my pack off and crumpled on top of it - completely exhausted. I saw the VIA Rail station go by then the train turned west and over the intersection that leads to the highway.

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