Just hopping freights doesn't make one a Hobo. Tramps, bums, yeggs, criminals and some just plain no goods also ride the rails.
December 9, 2010 12:08 PM Subscribe
A Hobo is a person that travels to work. A tramp is a person that travels and won't work. A bum is a person that will neither travel or work.Folklore abounds with the irresistible pull or joys of the freight hopping lifestyle: "it'll get in your blood. You're not agoing anywhere. You don't care. You just ride.". The largest hobo population was probably during the Great Depression. There are fewer freight-hoppers and hobos today (around 20,000) than there were in its heyday (over 500,000), mostly because the high speed of trains today makes it dangerous to hop on and off the train. Still, there's no better way to see the world than from the top of a freight train.
Note that not all hobos ride the rails; some hitchhike or take buses; they're sometimes called "rubber tramps" (more terminology here). Many people are aware of hobo signs, the most famous of which is probably the Kindhearted Lady. It's rare to see hobo signs in the wild today.
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