We travel the country by freight train

January 29, 2017
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We travel the country by freight train

We travel the country by freight train

“We travel the country by freight train. The easiest way to jump on is to wait for it to stop and do a crew change on the side track on the outside of the yard. If you can count the three lug nuts on a freight train, you can catch it on the fly because it means it is going slow enough or you aren’t too drunk to catch it. Getting down, you want to be able to get down the ladder and jump and run off. The easiest way is to tuck and roll, but that hurts because there are rocks on the track and sometimes pieces of glass from broken bottles.”

“Why do you do this?”

“I like traveling and exposure to new experiences. I have been doing this for two years. I was kicked out when I was young and played music on the corner and tried to go to school. I met some kids traveling by train.”

“I have been doing this for 26 years and have seen the country. I go to the hobo convention every year. A lot of people do this and we are train kids. No matter how old we are, we will always be kids. I left home when I was 14. My dad broke 7 of my ribs and I jumped on a freight train with two old hobos who were Vietnam vets. The best part is when you are sitting on the back of a freight train going through the desert with a half gallon beside and you look up and see nothing but stars. It is beautiful to see the sky meet the earth.”

“The stars are your blanket and the rocks are your pillow.”

“On my first ride, I saw the most beautiful sunrise in Texas, the sky was crimson. I was hooked.”

“Train riding ain’t for everybody. It is a dangerous job. A big piece of metal doesn’t have a conscience. I have seen friends get feet cut off and a 14-year-old girl get cut in half trying to catch the train, her dad was right there.”

“People get on loaded cars and the load will shift on them and crunch them. There were some greenies who hadn’t been doing it for long and were killed by rebar. It is a dangerous thing and it is illegal.

“I will stay in one place about two weeks, when people start to know my name, it is time to go. I call it rabbit blood. Gotta go. I can’t sit down when I hear the horn of a train. I try not to take on new people, I don’t want to teach anyone how to do this. I will tell people don’t sleep with your boots on because you get boot rot easily. If I catch someone sleeping with their boots on, I take a marker and draw some shit on their face. A lot of people get caught in the game and become drug addicts. I have been clean for 14 years. I used to put a needle in my arm religiously, but now I can’t stand the thought of it. Friends once had to bring me back to life with a Taser to jumpstart me. They had to bring me food and water for several days.”

“Those are good friends. The best advice I had starting out was don’t get started in drugs and you won’t get stuck in it.”

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