where few men have gone before
February 27, 2009 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Adventuring by Wes Modes. Be sure to make it to the Infiltration Timeline and North Bank Fred's Trainhopping page.

Here you might encounter souls like the Diggers of the Underground Planet, the Secret Urban Exploration Ninja Mafia, the San Francisco Suicide Club and other oddities.
posted by sidr (6 comments total)
"Leidschmudel Dreispul" is my new favorite name.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2009

I can't get the trainhopping page to load, but let me say, right up front, that riding a freight train is a very good way to get dead, quickly.

There are about 8 inches of 'slack' for every coupling in the train, plus variable amounts of movement due to shock-absorbing underframes. Add that distance up over the length of a medium-sized train and you'll see that the train almost acts like a classical physics spring, only without the smooth slink. As an example, lets say your train is bunched up after a stop. The engineer throttles up to start the train. The locomotive might move 100- 200 feet forward before the last car starts moving. What speed do you think the last car will start at?

Lets say you are riding that last car. You're not really sure how trains move, and the shock of going from 0 to 20 miles per hour instantaneously tears your hands off whatever your holding on to.

You're dead.

Or you think you're smart, and climbed into an open gondola car of scrap steel or lumber. The slack runs out, and 80 tons of cargo shifts onto you in the blink of an eye.

You're dead, but now with the added bonus of someone having to hose your bloody pulpy remains off of the cargo and the freight car.

Riding a hopper car? Coal and grain can act like quicksand under the vibrations of train movement. Can you spell 'suffocation'?

Or, you successfully get on the train, and it picks up speed faster than you thought, and it's getting cold and you don't know when or where it's going to stop. Hypothermia sets in, you slip off and break your hip at milepost 216.76, at night, with a rainstorm coming. You're 25 miles from a road, What do you suppose your chances of survival are?

There are more ways to kill yourself riding a freight train than there are fools. Please don't be one of them, and please don't romanticize it.

Ask anyone who ever spent time with railroads.

The 1930's hobo is a romantic figure, but keep in mind that rail cars back then were *designed* to be climbed on and walked over. It was still dangerous. Modern railcars have had most of those appliances removed, and modern trains run much faster and for much longer distances that trains did back then. If nothing else, you could count on a steam locomotive needing to stop for water every so often.

Again, don't do it and please actively discourage others from attempting to ride trains other than regular passenger trains.
posted by pjern at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

Wes is a dear friend and I've always enjoyed his various internet thingies. Hopefully he'll drop by and rebut some or all of pjern's very adult warning screed.
posted by damehex at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2009

If everything pjern says is true, then I'm even more impressed by people who have the wherewithall to go on such adventures. More power to them.
posted by robcorr at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2009

robcorr: I guarantee everything I said, and more, is 100 percent true.

More power to them? Are you kidding?

Riding a train is an ill-conceived method of Russian roulette.
posted by pjern at 1:33 AM on March 1, 2009

So it's dangerous. I get it. People die hang-gliding and rock climbing. If people want to do dangerous things to entertain themselves, that's fine by me.

More power to them.
posted by robcorr at 3:11 AM on March 1, 2009

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