Tales from the Iron Road

/Tales from the Iron Road

HAT ON HEAD TIMELINE

My first hobo ride was in a laundry basket, the next on the cowcatcher of a freight train, and then the rail journeys roll in this hobo life overview.   Aug 22, 1900 § The first Hobo Convention is held at Britt, Iowa, and to this day hobos and the curious gather with execs in [...]

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Why I Hobo to This Day

I graduated from college with a degree in veterinary medicine and became a professional athlete and author. My first hobo rides were on the racquetball circuit to and from tournaments and clinics on the west coast, and then during summers as a boxcar tourist, and now as a tour guide for executive hobos in boxcars. [...]

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HOBO HISTORY AND PICTOS

Hobos have always been willing workers at the drop of a hat to capitalize in Kansas on the rumor of a job in Montana, to jump a freight and a few days later hop down with sleeves rolled up. Life as a hobo was romantic, difficult, and dangerous. Hobo Symbols and Modern Nomad Codes To [...]

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HOBO TERMS

Hobo argot is lavish, and one hears it up and down the rails and around the  jungle campfires. Airedale: Someone who travels alone rather than in the company of others. Lone wolf. [Tramp_under_Train] Alki: Alcoholic. angel food: Mission sermon. back (or front) porch: Metal platform at either end of a grain hopper. These have curved [...]

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THE HOBO RIDES

The venerable boxcar or ‘empty’ is the standard hobo ride. It’s out-of-sight yet there’s a ‘window’ or open door, the equivalent of a wide-screen TV. Bulls don’t much care if tramps hold down boxcars, gondolas, and covered hoppers, but regularly kick them off piggybacks, container cars, double-stacks, and definitely the units. You can string a [...]

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MOVIE REVIEW: EMPEROR OR THE NORTH, FROM BO KEELEY

More dynamic than Water for Elephants, more picturesque than Dr. Zhivago, and more accurate than My Left Foot, Emperor of the North gets my vote for the best movie of the 20th century. Shack in railroad terms has evolved various meanings. The RR term is for switchmen, the guys who traveled trains to throw switches [...]

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Cold Freight

Mountains loom to the icy left, snowy foothills to the right, and dead ahead an appointment with cold doom. If the conductor doesn´t let me board the caboose this may be my ´last southbound´. ´It ain't the cushions!´ he shouts thrusting a fist off the caboose back porch that instantly covers with snowflakes. ´Ye should [...]

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HOBO ETHICAL CODE

For 19th Century Hobos and 21st Century Executives By Bo Keeley An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 at its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. One century later at the Britt, Iowa, National Hobo Convention a hobo in paint-spattered overalls sided me and said I might like to join Tourist [...]

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The Railroad Indicators

Victor Niederhoffer’s blockbuster autobiography Education of a Speculator (1996) and two prior reports from Bo Keeley to Niederhoffer called ‘The Rail Indicators’(194) and ‘The Hobo Network’ (1996) originated a low life  system to predict stock and commodities movements that attracted the attention of Wall Street investors and were picked up by Barron’s, Wall Street Journal, [...]

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HOBO CLASS

It was Fall of 1985 in Lansing, Michigan, sixty years after the last hobo class had been taught in America. Dusting my clothes after a rough and tumble summer in boxcars, jungles and skid rows around the country, it dawned on me as the first snowflakes fell on my nose that those who can hobo [...]

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