Mudcat Café message #1369850 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1369850
Posted By: Dewey
03-Jan-05 - 03:51 AM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
I have a Hobo friend nicknamed Cowboy, who has been seasonally riding the rail, for 30 years.

This summer(2004) he showed up at my place of work, after hitching a ride in an automobile, to make it into our town, before that he was jumped out of a boxcar in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, before that, he was in Chicago, Illnois.

He has the rails down to a science. The trick to doing this is that he KNOWS what is being shipped where and when. He told me that when he took the rails up here that the Burlington Northern Cars at that particular time of year stop in one of two places, Thief River Falls and St. Joseph Minnesota, this is due to the nature of the cargo and the destribution (or so I was told) Whether accurate or not, he seems to get up here every year without any problems and by the use of the rail.

Burlington Northern runs east to west along the Northern Part of American from Chicago to the coast, Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe likewise as the name suggests, mainly north and south rails I believe (but I am no expert) he simple says if you want to go east west in the Northern part of American you take burlington northern, the other companies take the rails that go north and south.

He HAS been caught however for doing this in times past and prosecuted for this. He was spooted with soiled boxcar clothes on by an officer this summer and in a return promised not to do the deed again. (or at least that was the so called story he gave me)

If you do get caught it is a FELONY conviction, and really not worth the effort. But some guys that do these sort of things have records, already and it really don't seem to worry about the consequences.

You can get very soiled up will coal and other compartment dust dust, which does definitely help to indentify you deed for proper prosecution.

From the Hobos, I've taked with, its harder to hitchhike these days than it is to ride the rail. In fact if you are a bum living in Chicago without money, it might be your only free means out of that area. Hithciking is more obviously trackable due to the abundance of officers in the area.

My friend Cowboy is more of a Hobo, he bums around some from place to place and works when he has to and then moves on. He even has a current CDL and can make good money as a prefessional truck driver.

This summer he drove a borrowed truck, earned a few bucks, and is living this winter, rent free in a potato seed wharehouse office building, he lives there in return for regulating the temperature on the potaote seeds. He is also a mechanic and this winter is repairing some of the vehicles in exchange for his room and board. He sleeps on a picnic table or in the office chair at night, He has a Color t.v. and a cat to keep him company, plus various other frineds that stop by to visit.

He is NO DUMMY, but for me what he does seems very dumb, especially having to lower your standards, he washes his clothes with dish soap and an old washtub, baths at the gas station showers, the mission etc. Bums old pizza off me at work. He has been working some this year and has earned SOME money.

I've driven him to the Casino with me several times, he's won a pretty decent amount money, when he stop wining he stopped playing.

I really enjoyed listening to his stories on the way down to the Casino, they we always quite entertaining, and he has a life that is very interesting but one (over-all) that I do not admire. I've also slip him a few bucks here and there from time to time (nothing major thought as I am very poor myself)

When he won the Jackpot at the Casino he gave me half the money he won just from the privelege of me taking him, its been a real Hoot knowing him, he's also taken me out to eat when he's HAD money in times past.

I got to know him through the years and found out he was trustworthy thought like myself at times- very un-motivated or should I say INDEPENDANT, I would never have taken him in my car without knowing a little something about his character.

Every farmer in our area knows his name, and many have help him get automibles etc. in past times to send him on his way, he's actually a pretty nice guy for a bum, but you can get sick of him and sometimes he will take advantage of other people's good nature or overstay his welcome. I think that goes with the territory however, when you are a bum.

He wanted to pay me a modest rent (he currently has income) and in return for sharing my place with him, but as much as I've enjoyed his company, common sense told me it would never work out. Anyone that depends too much on others for their sustanance can where the host down over time.

Honestly, he is a real NEAT guy though I will probably be cristicized for having admitted so here and hanging around such an individual.