How To Hop a Freight Train 189

by Wes Modes
Originally published in Might magazine, October 1994


What to Worry About

Safety is a big deal on the railroad. It is real easy to get good and hurt. You are made of soft, breakable stuff, while railroad equipment is made of very hard, very heavy stuff. A rolling boxcar won’t even flinch as it quietly rolls right over you in a sneaky surprise attack.

Furthermore, accidents make everyone look bad. You, me, the railroad gal who told you what train to get on, all the people who saw you and were too cool to call the bull on you. This is why, every time you talk to a rail, he or she will tell you to stay safe.

Don’t walk on the tracks. Don’t cross under couplers or cars. And watch for cars rolling quietly through the yard. Be careful out there.

Some yards have a railroad cop. The railroad cop is referred to as the Bull. The only way to get caught by the bull is being stupid. The bull typically sits in some office somewhere until someone calls him with a problem, which is seldom. [Not at all true anymore. -ed] Occasionally, the bull will make a foray out of the office to cruise around in the bull-mobile, a white pick-up or bronco, typically. The bull may traverse all the roads through the yard before they retire back to their den. To avoid the bull, stay out of sight of the roads within the yard. Walk between strings of cars. Watch for the bull-mobile. Watch for flashlights. Stay out of danger. Steer clear of the office.

What to Bring

Keep everything dark, dark clothes, dark pack, dark sleeping bag or blanket. This will make it harder to get caught by the railroad cops as you blunder around the train yards.

You’ll be walking a lot and throwing your pack on and off of trains, so pack small and light — under 25 pounds. If you have something in your pack that can break, it will. Leave your valuables at home.

And think about warmth. Dress in layers. You may end up on an open car in the middle of the night with a 60 mile an hour wind blowing in your face. Your clothes and your sleeping bag should keep you warm and comfortable and dry. If you’re cold and wet, freight-hopping will be a miserable experience.

Bring some sturdy gloves and boots to keep you safe as you scramble around on freight cars. And if you prefer not to sunburn your ears and nose off, bring a hat.

Its nice to know where you are. An atlas can come in handy, both for finding where to catch-out and for finding out where you’ve been left. You may be able to round up a railroad map. Call up the railroad business office and pretend you are doing a study on rail transportation. Ask for a map of American freight lines.

Bring something to drink. Exposure to the wind sucks the liquids right out of you. Bring something that’s not going to spill when you throw your pack on and off of cars.

Don’t forget to bring your patience. Freight-hopping involves as much walking and waiting as actual riding. You spend most of your time waiting for information, waiting for a train, waiting for your train to get under way, waiting, waiting, waiting. For this you’ll need flexibility and patience.

A quick checklist:

  • dark clothes
  • dark pack under 25 lbs
  • sturdy gloves
  • sturdy boots
  • hat
  • railroad atlas or map
  • a headlamp or flashlight
  • warm, waterproof jacket
  • light, warm bedding
  • water or other liquid
  • non-perishable food
  • newspaper (for kindling, shitting, or reading)
  • patience and endurance


Where to Catch-out

Find your local freight yard. There’ll be a train leaving or coming through there eventually. Look for train yards in the forgotten part of town, the part of town with all the rough neighborhoods. The yard is usually near big industry, maybe near a river or port. You can often find giveaway street names like Railroad Ave. The passenger train station is probably not too far away.

There are freight yards in almost every city in America. However, there are fewer marshaling yards where they make up and break down trains. These big yards are going to be the easiest places to gather information and catch-out. Here you can ask the yard crew which trains are leaving where when.

Some yards are crew change-points. A single crew can work a maximum of twelve hours, so yards at which trains receive fresh crews are strategically placed along the mainlines. These are good yards to catch out from.

How to get Information

Railroad workers are your friends and will help you out whenever possible. Crews can usually only tell you where their train is going and when power’s called for. Yard workers often know the whole story. They make up all the trains that are leaving their yard. They know which trains are going where and often when the power is called for. They will sometimes call in to the tower to find out what track your train is on and when it leaves.

What to Ride

In order of preference, you want to ride in open boxcars, on the rear platform of a grainer or hopper, between the wheels of piggybacked trailers, in the well behind cargo containers (if there is a solid floor), on the second or third deck of empty auto carriers (if you can get in), or in empty gondolas. And when you get really bold, you can ride on the back engine of several coupled units at night.

Don’t ride tank cars that carry all sorts of nasty shit, loaded flatcars and gondolas whose shifting load may crush you, or cars marked Bad Order that are broken but have not yet been removed from service.

Your safety should be your most important consideration, so don’t take short cuts to save time. Ever.

189 thoughts on “How To Hop a Freight Train

  1. Reply wmodes Jan 1,2013 11:06 am

    PLEASE NOTE that while I will generally approve comments that are supportive or critical, have good advice and sometimes bad, I won’t publish comments that blow-up or ask about specific yards or catchout spots and I won’t publish comments of the form “Hey I’m gonna be catchin’ out from Albuquerque in early March, hit me up at”

    I’ve been riding since about 1992. I started riding because I needed to get around, was poor, exhausted from hitchhiking, and had read about it in an occasional literature reference. Specifically, I’d found a book called Vagabonding in America by Ed Buryn that I can still highly recommend. In it, there was a short excerpt of a guide to trainhopping by a guy I’d later get to know.

    I went down to the yards and watched the trains, met workers and riders and hobos and vagabonds. I asked lots of questions and listened. I learned the lingo and started to understand the dangers and mystery and magic of freight trains. I caught my first train solo out of Sac, and rode mostly solo for a long time, not knowing anyone else who did it, thinking I was the very first and last rider since maybe Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Eventually, I met other riders and we occasionally rode together. I met Hobo Lee in Santa Cruz and we worked together on the Something About a Train ‘zine that he published for more than a decade.

    I traveled a lot by train in those few years, and eventually wrote about some of these adventures. I wanted to share this amazing experience with others who might not have had the luck I did to stumble on a great guide. So these articles have been available on the web since 1994. It was a thing I did to get around when I was poor (still am, pretty much, and still ride) and thought some folks might enjoy it and help them hop and stay safe.

    In the 20 years it’s been up, tons of punk kids, friends, traveling kids, rainbow folx, anarchists, activists, ecowarriors, have used it to get an idea of the basics of getting around by trains.

    I’m friends with a lot of the oldtimers in the trainhopping community and we talk now and then about how to share our experiences with others and not fuck shit up for everyone. I don’t mention specific yards, catchout spots, trains, cities, routes. And I actively discourage people from mentioning details that will blowup good things that some people depend on.

    Every 10 years or so, some segment of the people who like to ride freight (and usually consider themselves the only true group of freightriders) “discovers” my pages and freaks the fuck out and sends me a bunch of nasty grams. It’s a cyclic thing, usually after some high-profile site publishes a link or something. And then people forget and it blows over.

    But I think there’s the possibility — and here’s why I keep it around — that some amazing kids (or not kids) discover the magic and connect with the folklore of freight trains themselves. That has been my real life experience: I meet people mostly in the anarchist scene in Santa Cruz who tell me years later, “Oh, I don’t think I ever told you that reading your pages was how I worked up the courage to escape my crappy suburban family life.” And that makes it worth it.

    Yeah, there is totally stupid stuff posted on the internet, bad info, all spectacle, no respect for people whose lives if effects. And you are right to be irritated about that capitalist tendency to suck every piece of magic off the bones of whatever culture they happen to seize on. As much as possible I don’t want to be part of that.

    That said, we all need inspiration. That spark that helps us move on to the next part of our lives. I hope for someone somewhere that these pages ignite their passion.

    • Reply Parker West May 23,2017 1:17 pm

      Being a kid of the 60’s there was always a certain romance riding the rails, not knowing what you’ll see or exactly where you ,at end up. I had a shocker a year ago, A gentleman who retired from being a salesman for a very large medical supply company and who I managed for quite a while, told me that he has taken a few weeks and hopped freight to break up the monotony. His wife died two weeks after his retirement days, his kids are all married and gone but for one in medical school. He has a daughter working for United Airlines so he could travel the world as a stand-by non-Rev passenger, but chooses to take on the adventure of traveling by rail. About every three months he grabs his backpack and off he goes.
      I’ll let him know about your website, the info seem extremely helpful. In answer to my questions, he said he travels with a mummy bag that’s light and small, a thermal blanket that weighs nothing that he can wrap around his mummy bag or toss over his head to get out of the sun. He has a small solar charger that opens up into a 18″x24″ panel he can use to keep his cellphone charged. This gives him a map and weather info as well as GPS. He also has a 4oz can of mace for emergencies. He told me that he had heard of a few guys being stabbed and robbed in the southern part of Texas. The mace makes sense. He carries 1 gallon zip lock bags when he has no access to a toilet, or to carry extra water.
      I’ve been through Salt Lake City and the UP yard is right downtown, it would seem like a tough place to find a ride given the 24/7 activity under very bright lights. Ive never ridden a freight so I have no clue what to watch out for, just an observation that Ogden may be a better choice.
      Your experiences sound very cool, who hasn’t imagined themselves ridding on a freight? Thanks for the page, all of you take it safe.

  2. Reply Tarun Jun 13,2013 3:23 pm

    What’s the fine for getting caught for train hopping?
    I m asking because I was caught and was given warning and let go. Although they placed my name on the file.

    • Reply wmodes Jun 13,2013 4:00 pm

      Generally, the fine is minimal. It is essentially a trespassing ticket.

      However, with a little bit of effort, it is relatively easy to prove that you were not trespassing… or at least you weren’t doing something that meets the legal definition of trespassing. For instance, in most codes, you need to have been warned. That could be a clearly posted sign or a verbal warning. It they are claiming that you trespassed on posted property, the signs have to be every X number of feet apart, and cannot leave any access to the property unposted.

      And if they charge you with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor that is essentially squatting, the standard of proof is even stricter. You have to basically have set up a squat on their property and they have to have warned you or show you are on well-posted property.

      Generally, after I get a ticket, I take notes of what happened, photos of the unposted access routes to the property, and immediately write to the district attorney with the details, photos, and applicable laws as soon as I get home.

      I’ve put these civil codes to good use numerous times and — though I’ve been caught and ticketed a bunch — never been convicted. I’ve also got many friends out of court dealings as well.

  3. Reply Pattie Crider Jun 15,2013 8:56 pm

    Great info and tips! Thanks!

    • Reply mo_pac_man Aug 9,2014 10:06 am

      You still riding Pattie? I rode for 39+ years but was a trainman.. I just thought might be interesting to chat sometime. I worked in IL, MO AR CA and OR. I been around.. thats all. let me hear from you. mo_pac_man

      • Reply Chicago26 Nov 25,2016 6:32 pm

        Hey I’m trying to get to Arizona from Illinois any one know were I should go?

        • Reply Hankypankygorge Jun 29,2018 8:25 am

          Hey Chicago26, did you have any luck with this journey? I’ll be doing a similar trip next year and would love any advice you have (Illinois to Texas).. thanka

  4. Reply Jimmy Sep 23,2013 5:37 am

    Oi Oi! I was wondering if you could tell me how to hop a gondola, specifically how to get out of an empty one once your in it. Is there a latter on the inside? I have hopped a lot of different cars, but never rode junk before. Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  5. Reply Rotekk Oct 11,2013 5:53 pm

    Gondala cars basically require jumping and pulling yourself up. If they are rock cars with slanted walls you run up the slant be prepared to slide back down if you miss.

    Hoppers have a little hole cut out in the walls you can take shelter in but those are only on plastic cars. If mounting a moving car grab grab irons lean in the sirection of the move and step up with your trailing foot.

    Hopping off get low srop trailing foot and point toe towards movement release lead hand and drop lead foot. If your going 10 to 15mph try to push off to slow your momentum.

    I would not advise bailing faster than 15mph.
    Also never hop on with a car following you. Always catch the lead end of the trailing car unless its the last car. Reason being you could swing inbetween the cars if something goes wrong if you catch tje leading end of the trailing car you will swing into the car body and be ok or bounce off .

    Happy railroading and be safe

  6. Reply Mike and scuz Oct 24,2013 1:32 pm

    Can u take this down Plz… Your goin to kill dumb little kids!! If you don’t have an experienced friend to help you then get off the tracks!!! If kids keep dying cuz they do DUMB crap then it will make it even harder for everyone else!

    • Reply wmodes Oct 24,2013 2:20 pm

      It has been available on the web since 1994. Those dumb kids have already survived and grown up into adults who now bore their own kids with stories of riding the rails. And many folks have told me that these guides have helped them stay safe on the rails.

    • Reply Teddy K Dec 21,2013 8:47 am

      its the over socialized libtards who complain about this shit that makes it harder for people to do this, “I dont know this dead person, nor really how he died, but whatever he was doing prior should be banned! banned!! BANNED!”

      “Think of the children..”


      • Reply David Mar 17,2014 11:54 pm

        Teddy you are a idiot. I worked on the rails Southern and later NS for 34 years. It’s dangerous as hell for and experienced person and 100 X for some fool thinking they know every thing like you. I’m pretty easy going but one needs to know it’s dangerous and illegal. Was a time years ago when experienced hobo road the rails but these days are gone. Now it’s likely to be a poor person from south of the border. There is a good possibility of getting you head caved in by someone wanting to rob you. One hot day in late spring my engineer and I noticed a guy hoboing on a TTX not far from the engine. It had been a long day so when we stopped I walked back with a couple of bottles of cold water to offer it to them. The guy must have been scared and refused to come out for the water. I left it and returned some minutes later to see it gone. Trains stop for many reason and sometimes because they are told the yard can’t take them. That was the case that day and some hours later I was relieved for the hours and service law.

  7. Reply RamesesRadio Oct 28,2013 3:27 pm

    Hey, I’ve been hitchhiking for a couple of years now with varied success. I sat down a few weeks ago with a veteran freighthopper and he highly recommended it if I thought I had the stomach for it. I googled up rail riding last time I was in a library and found your site, which happens to be one of the only ones readily available. Thanks for your insight, warnings, and stories. I feel like if I ever decide to hop a train, I can feel a little more educated about it. Thanks in advance.

  8. Reply Jesse James Nov 8,2013 5:26 pm

    How do you navigate effectively? How do you know which trains are going where? Im afraid of hoping on a train and ending up 150 miles in the complete opposite direction I was hoping.

    • Reply wmodes Nov 8,2013 6:56 pm

      Knowing the train routes are helpful. And unlike freeways, trains generally are limited to a small finite number of routes. One way to find out what trains are going where is to ask the workers in the yards. Most will be helpful and a few may snitch you out. Being friendly, curious, and non-threatening goes a long way. In spite of all your research and questioning, there will be times when you end up 150 miles in the complete opposite direction. I happens even to experienced riders.

  9. Reply Sean Nov 10,2013 4:47 pm

    I’m looking at traveling sometime this April / May From Toronto to Halifax. So…I don’t want to travel by myself but I will if I can’t find someone that will come with me by the time Spring 2014 rolls around. So I was wondering, how can I find people online or in public that would be willing to come with me? Posting on Kijiji / Craigslist? I’d like to go with someone who has done this before so they can teach me the ins and outs of how everything works from trying to avoid “bulls” and locating the right freight cars to ride. You have some of the best information and tips on the net today and I must say this site has built my excitement and knowledge for my upcoming trip. Thank you for posting all of this.

    • Reply wmodes Nov 10,2013 6:09 pm

      Sean, thanks for the kind words. Best not to be super public like Craigslist, and also best not to travel with strangers. Nothing like being on a boxcar for 12 hours with someone who you’ve recently come to realize is a total sketchball. Ask around, make friends, get to know people, hang out at the freight yards, and so on. A lot of folks in the punk, rainbow, traveling kid communities are experienced hopping trains.

      • Reply 8 ball Aug 16,2015 12:31 pm

        To I’m in oakridge Tennessee looking to do some train hoping to Atlanta Georgia any suggestions on how to fined a track or train yard near me

        • Reply Student Sep 17,2015 12:39 pm

          Hey 8 Ball, I just clicked on this site on a whim, but I’m a student at UT Knoxville and there’s a freight station near campus by the river (adjacent to the soccer fields)

    • Reply flo Nov 16,2013 4:37 am

      yo Sean!! I’m in the same boat as you dude, I want to catch out to Halifax, but don’t want to do it alone. man if your still searching and keen send me word, seriously!

      • Reply Sean Jun 18,2014 7:59 pm

        Hey Flo! I haven’t left for Halifax yet, a great job offer came up and I had to delay my trip but I’m still down for going. I don’t know how often you read this but I’ve been planning on leaving sometime in August. I don’t know how to contact you without posting personal information on the board…. But I’m interested in meeting up for coffee or something and going over a plan / map of a trail to take. Hopefully you get this before I leave, I live in the High park / Dundas West Area of Toronto. So if you wanted to meet up we could do so in that area whenever.

    • Reply David Mar 19,2014 6:36 pm

      Sean from what I understand the weather in Canada is still quiet old and you might want to wait a few weeks. You know the weather in Canada better than me but just remember no heat and might not even be something to stop the rain or Snow from falling on you. You will be lucky to stop most of the wind from hitting you. I know some might be tired of reading my stuff but using your head for something besides weight on your neck needs to come into play. Remember Railroads are the coldest place when cold. The hottest place when hot. Add rain or snow to what ever happens to top it off.

  10. Reply flo Nov 16,2013 4:38 am

    Though I haven’t done it before man, so i may be useless, who knows though

  11. Reply Carl Nov 20,2013 8:25 am

    What could be the best place to hop out of Chicaago ?

    • Reply Jak Feb 6,2014 3:56 pm

      [REDACTED] is a pretty good spot

      [Note, as I’ve said earlier, discussing specific details on a public website is a dumb idea. It is however, a good way to blow up a catchout spot that people rely on. -Wes]

  12. Reply Carl Nov 20,2013 2:06 pm

    I have looked at google maps, at it seems that after forest park, there is a big yard. And one of the tracks lead to Mississippi, and then goes north right along the river, so that could be beautiful. but over all i don’t really care about the directions, so my question would be, which is the safest place to hop a train out of Chicago, I have heard that it is one of the hardest cities. Thank you.

  13. Reply Matt Nov 22,2013 5:42 am

    What is the best place to catch a train out of the Minneapolis/ St Paul area?

    • Reply wmodes Nov 22,2013 10:35 am

      Not a great place to ask about specific trainhopping information. Trainriders try to keep specifics off of the internet because it blows it up for everyone. As I mentioned before, ask around. Go to the local infoshop and make friends in the punk, rainbow, and traveling kid communities. Many are experienced riders.

    • Reply debra Mar 8,2014 6:44 pm

      Hi. I would like to give this a try but am a bit nervous about doing it alone. Do you have some experience with it or are you toying with the idea? If you (or anyone else) would be willing to show me the ropes a bit, or would like to team up with someone, let me know. In exchange for showing me a bit of your world, I can offer a bit a bit of mine . . pedestrian creature comforts. I know there are freight yards nearby and I wait endlessly for trains that just just seem to sit there, so I think it would be fairly easy to get started.

  14. Reply nick Dec 10,2013 5:05 am

    Hey dude, I was wondering where a good spot for finding slow trains [would] be….do you have to be at a yard or bend?

    • Reply wmodes Dec 15,2013 8:38 pm

      A yard is the most reliable. Less reliable are sidings on single track (trains occasionally have to go into a siding to let other trains pass) or places where tracks cross (trains will sometimes have to wait for another train to go by). But chances are that any of the old spots where trains had to slow to a crawl to go around a tight bend have been probably been straightened out by now.

  15. Reply Jason Jan 4,2014 6:38 pm

    Hey, thank you for writing, this has definetly helped prepare me to do this. I was just wondering, when was the last time you rode in a box car and were the yard workers just as friendly as they were back when you started?

    • Reply wmodes Jan 4,2014 6:43 pm

      Been about 2 years, and the workers were just as friendly. I was probably more cautious than when I started though and as usual tried to stay super low-pro, only talking to workers when I was pretty near neutral territory not deep in the yard. More than not wanting to get busted, I don’t want to have them put their job at risk either. Also, as time wears on and I learn more about my home yards, about trains in general, there is less I have to ask about.

  16. Reply Jeremy Jan 11,2014 11:12 pm

    i have been dreaming about hopping trains for a while, and i feel my adventure shall begin this summer, but i’m not looking for a week vacation, i mean full on, living on the rails, i was just wondering if anyone had any advice? stuff like additional survival skills, cities/yards to avoid, best ways to make money out there, and where i should aim to be in the colder months of the year?

  17. Reply Sean S Jan 14,2014 8:28 am

    Well, would there be a way to hop onto a train crossing the US/Canadian border..? E-mail me plz:

    • Reply vroom-vroom Feb 19,2014 10:02 am

      Ok, so, I’m not entirely sure why I took all the time to read this article, the comments, or reply to you, but here goes.


      First of all, if you really are 14 years old ( like a quick google search of your email address has suggested – – ), make for absolute certain that running away is the best option for you.

      Before you go, put yourself in your moms shoes as best you can and really think about how heavily affected she would be from it. If the answer to that is ‘not that much’ , or you believe the benefits that leaving may bring could out weigh the negative affects on your mother, there are a bunch of things you should do and think about before going. You should not be under the assumption that leaving your problems behind means they won’t follow you, but I understand there are many people who run away from home and actually get a better life out of the deal. If you are still in a suicidal state, it may be best to stay close to home and ask for help. Sometimes the strongest people seek their own help instead of wait for someone to offer it. Either way, if you decide to go, you may want to re-think leaving your country.

      If you leave your country at your age, there is a good chance that police will stop you in Canada and have to notify your mom since you’re not a citizen. On top of that, it may prove to be very difficult to get back into the US without being detected or using the border itself. Both of which would end up in your mom being notified, and you being held until the customs officers figure out what to do with you, since they couldn’t just let a person your age simply carry on their way. Just because you were lucky enough to get out of the US doesn’t mean you would be lucky enough to get back into the US, even if you take the same route.

      In my opinion, although many people wouldn’t agree, you may want to consider hitch hiking instead of train hopping, especially if you are going alone. Many people have horror stories of abuse they endured while hitch hiking, but I know plenty of people who have gone unscathed. The reason I say this is because, while train hopping you have to toss your back pack and end up where you’ve tossed it or you lose all of the belongings you had. Train hopping is more isolated with less chance for help if something bad does happen and less company/opportunity for good things from random people. Additionally, while train hopping, one simple slip of a hand can mean death or dismemberment. You really want a teacher for train hopping, in my opinion. It can be trickier than you may think, and rain/bad weather (and possibly territorial people) only adds to it.

      If, in the end, you decide to leave home, get a really good back pack, make a list of belongings you think you will need along the way, save as much money as you can before you leave, tie up any loose ends possible at home, spend as much time with the most important people in your life as you can and possibly work out an approximate route/destination you decide on before you go.

      If you do decide to hitch hike, always stay alert as possible and constantly be on the look-out for any sketchy behavior. On the flip side, don’t be paranoid and think everyone is a piece of shit. Good judgement of other peoples vibes and trusting your gut can be key.

      Although there are shady people out there, there are also people who want no harm to come to you, who will give you a ride, feed you, give you money/food/heart-felt thoughts/advice, and even give ideas/hook-ups for other rides/resources (which you should take advantage of if you feel comfortable enough with the person giving any of the above).

      Someone reading this may think I’m irresponsible or crazy for trying to do anything but talk you out of leaving, and although I think you should explore all options to stay rather than leave, sometimes education is better than abstinence whether it be about sex or running away from home. I left home for the first time at 13, and there is not a whole lot that could have convinced me not to. In my opinion, I would have been better off if I could have talked to someone who understood and was a bit more prepared because of that.

      Also, I will say, if you go, you should really think about telling someone before you go that you can trust, or at the very least writing a letter to your mom so she’s not in the position of having no clue what happened to you. She will be worried either way and she wouldn’t need the extra stress of thinking you were kidnapped or committed suicide or were killed. I think, even though you probably wouldn’t want to talk to her right after leaving, that you should call her (or someone) every day or two so there is some sort of trace of you. You can buy a phone card for $5 or $10 that will have you call a 1-800 number before dialing your moms number and will show the call as coming from the connecting city’s number instead of the number you’re calling from so she won’t know where you are if you don’t want to be found easily. Even if she is mad at you and the phone call wouldn’t be enjoyable, she would still be grateful to hear your voice and know you’re ok even if you won’t tell her where you are. Lastly, if you do decide to leave and regret it as you get into your journey, don’t be afraid to ask for help to get home and admit your mistake. Never let your ego get so big that you’re staying away even though you’d rather just go home.

      Hopefully you get this reply to your post and it helps in even a small way.

      Sorry for rambling. I know I’m just an internet stranger to you, but let me know if you have any questions.


  18. Reply face tat Jan 15,2014 12:33 am

    stay out of big citys iv ben on the road for a month so I cant give much more then that but stay on your toes but its a great time

  19. Reply Marz555 Jan 19,2014 10:59 am

    Oh the babies, boo hoo… if you are riding the rails, you might have a death wish. THATS LIFE WE ALL DIE. One thing to remember is life is short. Most people are boring, dull and have no story worth listening to… and will never experience anything like the adventure we do. Some will die, others will be injured… but if you survive, you will have one hell of a story to tell. And, more important you will no longer be just another “townie”.


  20. Reply Maddog Jan 21,2014 6:34 pm

    Are there any specific things you should look out for on boxcars while train hopping?? I tried before and only ended up going about 14 miles…pretty disappointing.

    • Reply Boxcarro Sep 22,2015 6:52 pm

      ——> Maddog, try not to ride boxcars. Unless you Reaaly Know how to “Spike” the Doors Open. A Grainer with a Porch and Hole is fine, a Inter-modal carry Stacked Semi-Trailers with a Floor is Great. Being able to See with out Exposing Yourself, Dumb Idiots with Cell Phones Believe It Is Their Duty to Call a Cop if they See People on a Freight Train. Thank the Breeding Sow, Janet Napolitanio “If You See Something, Call Someone!” American Snitch Culture is a Nazi~ Stazi ~ Soviet style that is going to Turn America into a Prison with out Walls, in fact, it has done so. Ta Ta!

      If there are boxcars with Both Doors Open, it’s alright, but Trains Jump & Buck (Like Horses!) and if Boxcar Doors slide shut, you can not open them from inside, in Summer it get HOT ENOUGH to bake you inside.

      A Train is a Train, no human can Tame a Train, even Carnies like me (Retired) Never met a Train Trainer, Lion Trainers would Scorn the Idea!

      Trains are 1 1/2 Miles Long, Wild, Sneaky, Capricious, Cold, Mean like a Crack Whore, but Jesus, I Am Married to them Dirty Face Ladies!

  21. Reply tim freeman Jan 23,2014 12:25 pm

    any one near pensacola fl wanna go for a ride

  22. Reply tim freeman Jan 23,2014 12:27 pm

    anyone near pensacola fl wanna go for a trip west??

  23. Reply Casey Jan 31,2014 7:22 am

    does anyone know hoe to hop a train near cleveland or northeast ohio (South bound)? I am ultimately trying to make my way to south Carolina

    • Reply David Mar 18,2014 12:07 am

      Personally think it a bad idea to hop trains as I worked there for so long. Take water and plan on being on the road for weeks. That means food. My guess is the best way is to catch one to Atlanta and then NS or CSXT has 3 lines east to South Carolina. South Carolina is a big place so remember you will be on the north and west side of the state. Augusta Ga, Abbeville SC or Greenville.

  24. Reply Casey Jan 31,2014 7:23 am

    And if anyone who is not a rapist or a murderer wants to join that would be great :)

  25. Reply Laura Feb 3,2014 8:23 pm

    Anyone near Chicago wanna hop out east or down south this spring/summer? Hit me up!! I’m trying to go around early April. and if any experienced people have anything they’d like to share to a first timer… I’m all ears!

  26. Reply Victoria Feb 11,2014 10:23 am

    I assume the ratio of men:women is small, is there a larger threat of a young girl (like myself) hopping? I’m able to take care of myself, but I didn’t think there was actually this much of a society, I thought I could hop without contacting too many people.

    • Reply wmodes Feb 11,2014 11:31 am

      Let me try to offer a nuanced answer. The short version is Yes, But.

      There are fewer women hopping trains. Among people hopping out of necessity, homeless folk, itinerant workers, the majority are male. Among people riding the rails by choice, I see a lot of relatively young persons, punk kids, traveling hippy kids, activists, and so on. There is much more gender diversity in this group (including trans, queer, and genderqueer folk).

      So in terms of being a woman on the rails, you are outnumbered by men. Unfortunately, women traveling alone seem to invite attention, both positive and negative. This misogynistic society is a difficult place for women in general. Sexual assault is still very real and present for female-bodied people, no matter where you go. None of this is restricted to trainhopping.

      Just to put Stranger Danger is the freight yard in perspective: According to RAINN: “Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger. 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. 28% are an intimate. 7% are a relative.”

      All that said, how does one want to live their life? Fearfully or courageously? And if one chooses to do risky things, is there anything that can be done to make one safer?

      Here are some tips from the women trainhoppers I’ve known:

      • Travel with others. Some friends prefered to hop with other women, some with burly dudes. Some women friends felt safest when they traveled alone.
      • Know how to keep yourself safe. Assertiveness training, self-defense training, or martial arts really help.
      • Consider low-scale weapons such as bear mace or pepper spray. Firearms or edged weapons have the dual disadvantage in that they can be taken away and used against you, and increase your risk of serious trouble with authorities.
      • Most female friends tended to dress down their femininity. “Dress like a boy and you don’t get hassled,” one said.

      I’d love to hear from other female-identified trainhoppers and potential riders here. (I will prioritizing publishing comments from female-indentified folks here, and may hold comments from male riders to make space for women’s voices.)

      • Reply David May 14,2017 3:51 pm

        What is a “female-identified trainhopper”? Is that different from a “female trainhopper”?

    • Reply David Jul 14,2014 8:25 am

      I’ve freight hopped with lady friends over the years and have had enjoyed those times. We safely completed our trips and had great stories to share. Over the years, such adventures have been a great bond among my friends, both male and female. Certainly, great caution should be exercised by women. I recommend traveling with a male. Perhaps it would be safer to ride in the central parts of the US and away from the borders. In those areas, I’ve found fewer people riding.

  27. Reply Joe Feb 18,2014 2:46 pm

    For gods sake, man! stop publishing this shit… If someone is meant to hop a train, they will meet train hoppers and either be accepted and shown the ropes, (which is fucking impossible to purvey in print), or they will not be accepted and will either try to go it alone or they’ll call their fucking Mom for a greyhound ticket. listen man… I dont know who the fuck you are but what I do know is that you have immediately ostracized yourself from the ACTUAL train hopping community by writing this. this shit is illegal. It is secret! there are already too many young kids tryin to hit it and it’s makin it more difficult for everyone and getting hurt in the process… As someone who’s been ridin’ hard since ’93, one thing I can tell all you kids out there is, DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS GUY! Not a single dirty kid in north america would condone this shit… The only thing he’s said here that I’ll rep is, if you go it alone, USE COMMON SENSE and STAY SAFE!!!

    • Reply wmodes Feb 18,2014 3:25 pm

      Thanks, Joe. This stuff has been up on the web almost as long as you’ve been trainhopping. Pretty much unchanged since ’94 or so. Glad you finally found it.

      And yes, quite a few crusty kids have been inspired to hop trains — hopefully a little safer, a little more informed — because of it. I’ve met some.

      Personally, I have those other assholes publishing trainriding secrets to thank: Jack London, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Jack Black, Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Ben Reitman, Woody Guthrie, and many others.

    • Reply Dan Mar 3,2014 1:29 pm

      I agree with joe. dude take this shit down. our lifestyle is illegal and not everyone is fucking cut out to hop freight. if the kids that read this shit are tryin ta ride, then they need to run into dirty kids in real life. if the kids decide to show em the ropes then so be it, but otherwise, go home and play some videogames. you will get killed or lose limbs. there are some nasty people in our society and they won’t think twice to beat you to near death (or all the way) for no reason. or maybe they like your fancy cell phone and pack. do yourself a favor and stay off the rails.

      • Reply wmodes Apr 13,2014 3:36 pm

        Dan, were you born a dirty punk on a train? Or were you once some fresh faced newbie?

        And yeah, there are some serious sociopathic assholes out there, and they tend to get pushed to the edges of society, i.e., the trainyards and home jungles.

        But really, how often have you met total assholes who threatened violence? Not just drunk punks fronting, or aggro meth heads, but the real-deal the mythical Bad Guys that are out on the rails ready to slice and dice happy hippie hobos.

        While I don’t doubt they are out there, I just doubt they are more than an extremely small minority, probably comparable to the number of sociopathic killer cops.

  28. Reply Oogle666 Feb 18,2014 4:00 pm

    WHAT ARE YOU DOING! Are you trying to blow up a beautiful lifestyle? This is completely ludacris. You need to take this down immediately. Be advised that is someone who has red your blog gets hurt, you will be responsible. Your information is putting people in harms way. Who the fuck are you to give people this information via the internet?

  29. Reply Joe Feb 18,2014 4:30 pm

    a celebration in song or fiction is a mite different this “guide”. and while I appreciate the fact that you published this eons ago, I still maintain that a kid googling “how to hop a freight train” and getting an answer is a terrible idea. I could read all day about bull fighting and possibly even feel a little better about stepping in to the ring afterwards, but some things can not be taught in print. Alternatively, if these kids were searching “how to etc.” and were shown links for sinclair, kerouac, guthrie etc.. i think we’d all be better off for it…

    • Reply wmodes Feb 18,2014 4:37 pm

      Agreed. There is no substitute for learning from someone you trust. I think we both highly recommend it.

  30. Reply mat Feb 18,2014 6:23 pm

    your information is all bullshit anyways stop trying to kill people indirectly…cut the crap and go back to bed

  31. Reply tasha Feb 18,2014 6:46 pm

    take this off the net. your a retard.

  32. Reply Wesley Feb 18,2014 8:10 pm

    I think that while what Joe says is true, I disagree in the sense that if you didn’t post this.. other people would, and already have. Whether or not this is the most reliable source of information is up to the reader. Not everyone is going to read this and think “Let’s go hop a freight train!” Thinking about maybe hopping a train for a few kilometres this summer, will be doing my research in advance and prepping myself for sure.. and yes, i’ll stay safe. Thoroughly enjoy this site, good work.

    – another wes

  33. Reply railspike Feb 18,2014 11:21 pm

    I agree the rails have changed big-time since 94 there are a lot of kids who don’t ride full time and act dumb and ruin it for those who are in it for life. There has been a lot of accidents a lot of deaths all young kids at that. Good riders know thru experience not random advice from the internet and not the greatest advice at that. Not all workers are friendly the will call the bull and get your ads arrested. This was a tight knit community and should stay that way.

  34. Reply Big Gay Nik Feb 18,2014 11:25 pm

    Why are you publishing this? The fantastic part about riding the rails is how it’s such an esoteric thing. You redacted someone’s comment up there because you didn’t want the spot to get blown up, but that’s mighty hypocritical considering you are blowing up the entire lifestyle…
    When I learned my way around a train, it was by travelling with crazy old hobos, and using a crewchange that i got from a friend, not by googling it on my smart phone. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Did you post this to feel cool? Like some sort of train god for newbs and oogles to pray to? Because thats pretty selfish. If you care about the preservation of the mysticism and romance of this bitchin’ lifestyle at all, take this down and stop encouraging every little douche with internet access to go blow up our spots, and ruin all our fun.

  35. Reply Nicholas Feb 19,2014 8:17 am

    Anyone who is defending this post is absolutely rediculous. The fact that anyone can see and read something like this is in no way a good thing. I’m not about to get into the in’s and outs of it all. Simply because it’s a waste of my time. Hands down, somthing like this should not be on the internet. You can’t even begin to argue its a good idea.

  36. Reply fuckyerself Feb 19,2014 8:20 am

    Okay kids if ya wanna ride a train ,how about getting out of yer moms house and getting off the internet for once. Did you ever think that there are things in life you can’t learn just by “googling it”? Things like intuition and common sense? That’ll get you farther on the road than this guys cute little “advice” column. This shit is seriously so basic that if you didn’t already know then you never will. All I read was “bring water, look out for cops,
    trains are dangerous, if ya wanna hop out go to a train yard, train workers are yer friends (actually a lot of them won’t hesitate to call the bull on first site), blah blah”. The more this douche says about trains the more it sounds like he’s full of shit and probly rode a few trains one summer so he could brag about it. So what did we learn kids? This guy sucks , quit asking him for advice cuz he don’t know shit, and maybe try figuring out something for yerself? Nevermind just stay home and google it

  37. Reply Dica Feb 19,2014 8:48 am

    I learned how to hop from friends and that’s the only way to learn, stop saying your B.S. cause you’ll get someone killed. Oogle’s go away!!!

  38. Reply Cat Feb 19,2014 10:01 am

    This shit is straight dumb.
    You don’t learn how to ride a train by reading about it you get up and fucking do it. Oogle mother fuckers.

  39. Reply wmodes Feb 19,2014 11:36 am

    Oh and for the uninformed, what are the oogles that the last few posts have been mentioning?

    Here’s a pretty funny article about Oogles in NOLA: Everyone Hates the Oogles: Exploring the Animosity Towards New Orleans’ Panhandling Punks. It might be funny, because discussing Oogles and crust punks is inherently funny.

    And it’s true, everyone hates the oogles, but the problem is no one agrees on who that is. Like the term “hipster” (that I’ve seen people who are clearly hipster kids use to denigrate other hipster kids — “What happened to your cool fixy, man?” “Oh I sold it to some hipster kid.”), it is mostly use to Otherize out-group people.

    My hobo friends and I refer to traveling kids and crust punks who have no respect for others as oogles. Urban Dictionary, a sketchy source of info at best, says:

    “Oogle: a migratory pack animal that drunkenly stumbles onto your porch and sets your couch on fire. they are the uninvited guests who throw inappropriate things (i.e. veggie oil, pressure treated lumber, spray paint cans, someone else’s full beers) into a bonfire. while under your roof, they will talk shit on “house punks” while their shitty dog attacks your dog. the term crosses subcultural boundaries; includes hippies, punks, metalheads, ravers, etc.”

    Oogle dogs are called “doogles,” by the way. We call our dog Hazel a doogle on occasion for fun, though she’s pretty far from the requisite wild-eye poorly-socialized aggressive pitbull mix.

    But I’ve seen drunk punks that I’d consider oogles calling other people they don’t like oogles. This is the other major variant, oogle as poser. Also from that reliable source of internet info, Urban Dictionary:

    “Oogles are street rats that don’t have street smarts. They are the ICP kids, the tweekers on bikes, the 15 year olds who runaway cause they think it’s cool, not cause their lives at home weren’t working out. Another good word for an oogle is poser. The kids that pose as punx don’t know shit about the scene, don’t know shit about the music. Age is often a big part of oogle-ism, you have to be around for a while before people will respect you in street scenes. Some kids grow up and get street cred. Others are doomed to be oogles for the whole time they choose to hang out. Tweekers and ‘juggalos’ are doomed to be oogles for all of eternity. Oogles don’t know shit about squatting. these are the kids that sleep in doorways. You find them in every city.”

    So there you have it. Those other folks over there — the ones who are too drunk, or too wasted, or too young and inexperienced, or too gnarly, or not gnarly enough — those are the oogles.

    Does that clear things up?

  40. Reply Doobie D Feb 21,2014 9:40 am
      Safety is a big deal on the railroad. It is real easy to get good and hurt. You are made of soft, breakable stuff, while railroad equipment is made of very hard, very heavy stuff. A rolling boxcar won’t even flinch as it quietly rolls right over you in a sneaky surprise attack.

      A rolling boxcar won’t even flinch as it quietly rolls right over you in a sneaky surprise attack.

      Furthermore, accidents make everyone look bad. You, me, the railroad gal who told you what train to get on, all the people who saw you and were too cool to call the bull on you. This is why, every time you talk to a rail, he or she will tell you to stay safe.

      Don’t walk on the tracks. Don’t cross under couplers or cars. And watch for cars rolling quietly through the yard. Be careful out there.

    I think this was the absolute right way to start this off. The safety factor cant be stressed enough. It seems like as the years tick by there are more young folks coming out onto the rails with zero clue of how to act.

    Take the recent Mobile deaths. The fact they rode IN BETWEEN the load shows how clueless these kids were. It basically came down to a kid that didnt know what he was doing leading other kids that had no clue. I believe that greenhorns should take up with a seasoned rider to learn things IN REAL LIFE. But a lot of these kids coming out dont want to listen and think they already know it all because they watched some train videos and read some things on the internet.

    I know that before this internet age a lot of folks just went out and did it. Trial and error. Thats how i learned. But i also picked up any kind of wisdom the older riders were willing to put down. Its seems that lately theres a lack of respect for those that have been before. Theres an attitude out there now that its hip to ride trains and be a scumbag and theres a pervading attitude of “i know everything there is to know about trains.. ive ridden 3.. So follow my lead” *proceeds to ride a suicide grainer in daylight*

    I dont know why the worst type of behavior on the rails is becoming more common and acceptable but it seems that slowly the positive customary disposition of the older (1930’s to 1980’s style) tramps are fading away.

    If you read the old “hobo code of ethics” that was written in the 1800’s you would have a good impression of what most tramps are about. Then if you go out and meet majority of the folks out there today you’ll see every single “rule” being constantly smashed to smithereens. Its sad.

    I dont know.. I suppose im just ranting and wishing that things wouldnt have gotten as bad as they are today. It used to be when i saw other riders i would go towards them to have a chat. NOW i usually walk the OTHER way. Especially when there’s a giant group of them with 50 dogs, Oi’ing at the workers, trashed out of their brain.

    Ok im done. No point to this rant.. just a rant

    • Reply wmodes Feb 21,2014 3:22 pm

      I’m not really convinced there ever really was a good ol’ days. I imagine that while there were some folks who honored a Hobo Code of Ethics, the majority of riders were poor, dirty, migrant workers, driven by poverty and need to take the only option available to them. And I imagine there have always been a few fucked up sociopaths driven to the edges of society who rode trains.

      Of course, as the old poor, dirty, itinerant early 20th century hobos got old and harmless we venerated them and pissed on the filthy violent ‘nam-era hobos. Now, of course, those guys are older and mellowed, and the traveling crusty kids are seen as a plague.

      And as long as I’ve been riding trains, kids have gotten killed riding trains. Every once in a while, when the kids are white Americans from relatively well off backgrounds, it reaches the level of media interest. And then everyone wonders, how did it ever get so bad?

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      • Reply Boxcarro Sep 22,2015 7:26 pm

        What Happened to “Dead Train Bums?” Modes? Hell, I was train hopping years before somebody in Austin, about 1999, taught me to Use Netscape at the Live Oak Public Library by Live Oak Springs & Airport Blvd.

        Then for years some guy had up….it’s still on….maby.

        Your Dead Train Bums thing was great! Haw Haw!

        People are rather stupid, because they Get All Their “SHIT” propaganda from Media. I started Hop Freights in 1964 or 65, I Hoped a Rock Island Train in Benton, Arkansas with a Friend, rode to North Little Rock Yard.

        These People do not realise, Getting DEAD is part of LIFE! When a Person DIES, it’s no big thing, not even to the Dead Person. Only a Screwed Up Capitalist Western Police State would make a Industry out of Death!

        Like, Lots of Old Pards are in a Nursing Home/ Mission over in Fresno, there is a Video on DailyMotion, I think, I am 66 & Got Senior Apartment in San Francisco, where I am a Street Guitarist……and my Blood Pressure runs 230/190…..yes. So am I going to die? Hell, Everybody Does! If your hop-a-train web page caused Deaths, you would be a Hero to the Police State, the Forensics Corporations, the Crime Labs up in Tennessee, near Jackson I believe, where they Learn how to Recover Crime Evidence from Rotten Dead Cadavers! If People acted Grown Up there would be no need for MUNI COPS, BART COPS, Special Smiling Roger (The Dodger) who aressted me sleeping in a 4th. Unit in 2000, apologized for taking me to Jail, where I was released in the Morning after Bacon, Eggs & Flap Jacks, to find all my Chothing had been Washed. I think he retired soon after…He was Suitablly Impressd at a 5’2″ 112 Lbs Tattooed Tramp carrying a 1918 Gibson L-0 Guitar and a A.L.I.C.E. Pack—He said “You are a Real Professional, not some Wild Nut with Dogs, Drugs and Drunk as Cooter Brown.”

        Are you still down Santa Cruz? Gotta see If I can Ride down Hi Wat 1 on the Gary Fisher to meet you. Gonna get a Bike Trailer to Haul my Guitar, Amp, Mil Sleeping Bag & BIVIT tent. BIVET tent..shit Tiny Wee Little Tent. & My A.L.I.C.E. pack.

        Got too many damn Guitars.

  41. Reply Sven Feb 21,2014 12:08 pm

    Word Wes. With increased access to inforation via the internet everywhere you go I think adequate information about basic train riding safety measures will keep people (usually 16-18 year old kids) from getting killed and ruining yards, cities, and dispositions about trainhoppers. Basic info about gear and trains in general isn’t that much of a risk to making every underside of a trackside bridge like times square. Also, as far as consequences go it’s a good thing for first timers to keep in mind that you can go to JAIL for this shit. I’ve done 17 days for getting pulled off. Depends where you are, what you look like, what your skin color is, gender, the attitude of the cop, the attitude of the town, etc. Usually you’ll get a ticket or the boot but I’ve known people who’ve done 30 plus days for trainhopping. Just a little FYI.

    As far as the train hopping community goes, well there isn’t really much of one. I’d say about 80% of kids I’ve met traveling could be described as “oogles” who had no sense of community and were more interested in drinking, shooting heroin, or beating their dogs than forming a solid brotherhood or alliance. When I was first starting me and my friends I met on the road thought we’d be at this forever. Well, now most of us who had half ways decent heads on our shoulders rarely ride anymore. It comes in cycles, someone that thinks they’re hardcore now might be working at an AMPM down the street from a house they pay rent in tomorrow.

    Went on an old railroad grade hike/camping trip with you, Wes, a couple years back in Santa Crustacia. Good times.

  42. Reply SkEtCh Feb 23,2014 3:13 am

    i been hoppin and hitchin walkin bikin and driving (mainly hop/hitch/walk) the last 15 or so years 90% of travelers you meet with not all the same exact patches , will be dicks and whatnot or if they know “more” about lingo areas or anything pertaining to punk crust grindcore or especially this new ish lame start of the last few years of “folk punks” which are just fuckin hippi’s to self righteous and “cool” to be hippis callin themselves crust or watever but not listening to a single band they sport or even care but only judge on what you do and dont know and bands you do and dont know its silly as shit to that people try to keep this “secret” its not and its easy i started hoppin trains when i was about 7 and i dont mean “xHxCx” i mean from side of town to the other through a yard or so (Spokane, WA) and i figured the only difference (when i was older) between that andleaving town is just stayin on. be comfortable be safe and keep a watchful eye. Good info can come from both sides of the scope also whether fellow travelers of whatever breed and workers of whatver company or yard. completely varies. But my main reason for this reply was how fuckin many people talkin down and shittin on decent if not at least well intentioned info for people who are lookin into it cause more then likely a small child will have no clue what they are ;lookin up or what the people are talkin about so that threat is just dumb and all the people tryin to keep our scene “esoteric” (< couldnt beleive that one lol) and "undreground" well quit teachin all these stupid kids you meet aka (yourselves and immediate towns area of bums punks and hippis etc)and makin all these "hobo" gatheringsand crews and stupid shit.. just go for fun no matter who ya are who ya with and just remember. if stopped climb on in and hide, if rolling slow (visual 3-4 bolt spinin) watch for spot jog (not run!) next to it be ready to grab 1/2-1 wholecar leangth prior (watch ground in front while constant check on upcoming car) and if fast sit back open a beer/bottle/bag or what have you and sit it out til the next.

    outside that all travelers think they are "better" then the next or know more or more about areas… so what so does everyone else get over yourselves you glorified bums. Hobo's traveled for work and land… we dont do that nomore and spangin aint a job. aint nothin against riders these days but most are just full of shit or tryin way to hard to be "badass", "hardcore", "crusty" or just plain punx/ individuals.. were not we all dress look and travel the sameget over it. and this post is fuckin 20 years old half you fucks bitchin about this bein up even in the last 5 10 years.. prolly were "trained" (if you really wanna call it that lmao)by people who read this when they started and you are nowspawnof that knowledge lmao fuck you stay OI and thanks WMODES for at lest makin the effort for others to learn and enjoy safelymy friend.

    -SkEtCh aka Dogboy aka JUNKYARD aka John aka My-fuckin-self

  43. Reply just me Feb 23,2014 1:53 pm

    People blow up the spot whether or not stories and info are posted on the internet. Want to keep this a secret, stop polluting the rails with your garbage all while screaming drunkily through town how you ride trains. Most all of you will die from your own dumb decisons. If you know how to use a computer I am sure you got someone that will buy you a greyhound ticket and already has but now your just a little tougher or to dissapointed in yourself to talk to them. upthepunx keep givin dirty kids a bad name cause i hate when people like me especially oogles.

  44. Reply Darius Feb 26,2014 5:30 pm

    Thank you for this great tips.
    If anyone is intrested in freight in hungary or europe feel free to check fuvarborze . Have a good day :)

  45. Reply kristofferson Feb 28,2014 9:06 am

    good advice

  46. Reply Bard Mar 1,2014 2:42 pm

    I’m here, reading this because I’m writing a novel about a pair of twenty-something misfits who windup hopping a train. Of course, being fiction, all of what I write is lies. But. I need basic info on southern routes. I recognize that everyone (pinned with whatever title) has investments to protect and I do want to respect that. So. If Wes or anyone is willing to share some basic (again, Basic, vague, etc) info with me that will make my book stronger (realistic, believable, etc), please email me at: . Thanks.

  47. Reply Rockrawl Mar 2,2014 7:50 pm

    Some friends and I use to hop a train to get to a specific location down the tracks a few miles that we’d always hike to. Seems everytime there was a train moving slow as we were hiking so we started hopping on. That was 20 years ago and I’ve always wanted to hop one on a long trip out of Knoxville, tn. Sounds like an awesome adventure.

  48. Reply Doug Mar 3,2014 12:47 pm

    Firstly this info is useless if you, say, want to get anywhere; let alone getting there alive. I really couldn’t give a shit about the stupid people who read this, think they can catch out and end up hurt or dead; people that stupid are bound to die anyway. What bothers me is how pissed off the workers are going to get when troves of dumbasses decide to commit mass suicide on the rails after reading this. Hopping train is about respect and part of that respect is not telling just anyone how to do it. People who read this and go out are not just a danger to themselves, their a danger to anyone they might bump into in a yard, and to the culture as a whole. Please take this down, or at the very least emphasize respect for the people who need to do this to get by, and maybe if you show some respect you’ll get it back and some who knows what their doing will teach you.

  49. Reply Old Ray Mar 8,2014 10:04 am

    Anyone wanna come with me from Fort Worth to San Diego this June I’m planning ahead and I’m bringing an old pal of mine if you want to come message back soon.

  50. Reply David Mar 18,2014 4:03 pm

    Things you need to know. Trains don’t have walking boards down the top like they did at one time. Outside covered hoppers and a few tank cars. Most auto racks are closed and pined so you want be able to ride in them. I’ve heard some shocking stories from those who ride trains. Some may of may not be true. Several told how they started off with a group but for different reasons could not stay together. That includes some got on before the train was moving to fast and the rest did not. One young girl said she started with her boy friend. She got on and some guys kept him from getting on. You can picture the rest. She was traveling with 3 nasty looking guys who were some 20 years older than her and she looked tired and scared. I was wanting to call the tower and tell them as I thought she was in danger but the rest were against it so I did not. She will if not already wind up dead or pregnant or both. Most crews In the past would tell another if they saw someone on there train. A warning if they have to get on the ground for any reason to watch out. One day we make a short stop in Dalton. We get a signal and start moving. It was a coal train. Crews know to take the signal or wished they had. We got several calls that someone was on a hopper of coal. We finally stopped near Rockmart and that was about 60 miles down the road. I make the walk back offer him some water and he kept asking how he was going to get back to Dalton. I said that is something you should have thought of before climbing on the train. In a stop in south Georgia some kids hanging around talk this boy in to climbing on the train. The train started moving and he was to scared to jump. He fell off about 20 miles down the road when to tired to hang on any more. Almost ever bone in his body broken and as they say his mom would not be able to pick him out. I was not on that one. Another one I was. Again at Dalton we get stopped and when we move a kid has climbed on. He gets slung loose and the car rolls over his leg. One man saw it and rapped his leg in a jacket and rushed him to a hospital. Some 20 miles down the road we are instructed to make a rolling inspection of train and see if we see anything. We find out about the kid at the end of our trip. Don’t know if the kid made it or not. I have hundreds of stories like these. So you are warned. You choice, you hurt it your fault. If you are in that big a hurry try getting a ride with some trucker. After he rides you butt a few days he may buy you a meal before trading you to another trucker.

  51. Reply Eric Mar 23,2014 12:34 pm

    STOP POSTING THIS STUFF. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? You realize that these types of posts will get you jumped eventually. Also, anyone that needs to read an online tutorial about how to hop trains safely should stay far the fuck away from the yard.

    • Reply wmodes Mar 24,2014 8:43 pm

      How did you find out about and learn to hop trains? And if from someone else, how did they find out about it?

  52. Reply Hector V Mar 24,2014 8:19 pm

    HI fellow curious explorers. I’m planning a trip to europe to search for my best friend who left my country (Peru) like 3 years ago, we kept in touch but we recently stopped talking and no one has heard anything from him in a few months, including his brother. So a friend and I want to go find him. But we only have money for the plane ticket. And this train hopping idea sounds just perfect to get all the way from italy (destination) to germany (last known whereabouts of my friend). Does anybody have any idea how i can find a FREIGHT station/yard in italy? i know there are, but every time i look for them online i find PASSENGER stations and ticket deals and bla bla bla. Nothing about Freight yards, or a map of the trains’ rails. Please, if anybody has been to Italy and has seen a FREIGHT yard, please tell me where.

    PS. It has to be an active freight yard, not a train cemetery/dump please.

    Thank you very much in advance!! And if anybody is planning on hitchhiking in europe i’ll be glad to meet up and travel together!

    • Reply wmodes Mar 24,2014 8:42 pm

      I have a friend Hobo Lee who freight hopped all over Europe. Not sure how he found stuff, probably just asked around. Very punk but congenial. He said, no one hopped trains in Europe and it was almost impossible to convey in his English-only what he needed information to do. Everyone invariably pointed him to the passenger train station thinking he was a dumb lost American.

      I’d recommend just use google maps to follow the train lines until you find freight yards. However, you should probably find out what the consequences are for getting caught in the EU.

  53. Reply safetravels Mar 27,2014 10:35 pm

    Seriously after riding the rails for almost 14 years it can not be understated that this (what ever this bullshit web site/blog) is, is not I repete NOT THE WAY THIS KIND OF KNOWLEDGE IS TO BE SPREAD. This is borderline criminal negligence. I hope the first green youngsters that get maimed or killed, that there familys litter this thread with pictures for you to brood on. If the purveyor of this website is an actual tramp that he should leave this type of conversation under the bridge by the fire where it belongs……uuuggghh

  54. Reply Caden Apr 5,2014 5:51 pm

    How long does it generally take to get from place to place? For instance, New Orleans to Albuquerque (or some distance like that)–assuming the train doesn’t stop at any yards along the way.

  55. Reply darstust Apr 12,2014 3:44 pm

    For anyone here who thinks this article is bullshit, can you explain exactly every detail of why this article is bullshit? I don’t understand. I just see some people dissing the author and article for almost no reason without explaining why. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    • Reply dude Dec 4,2014 7:56 pm

      crust punk losers who have MAYBE hopped like 5 trains total in their entire life and that were like 5 years old when this was written for a magazine are probably finding this on their iphones and getting angry and leaving dumb comments. train hopping is incredibly uncommon these days and not many people do it anymore. unlike today, many many people used to rely on hitch hiking, train hopping and ride sharing. It was much more common back in the day. some still use these methods of travel but it’s different now because unlike 100 years ago, the social and economic landscape has changed. many kids that choose to hop freight are mainly looking for adventure, which is all good, but some are insecure and build their life around counter culture shit so they end up trying to brag about doing stuff like this claiming it’s “theirs” when travelers with actual jobs (hobos) have been doing this shit a 100 years before they were born. it’s mainly just a small few radical hippies or punks with iphones getting mad over nothing trying to keep this old method of travel a secret so they can feel like they’re doing something no one else is doing.

  56. Reply Shannon Apr 13,2014 2:55 pm

    Wow, this entire train hopping idea sounds so wild. As a female, I would probably feel extremely intimidated. Thwre isn’t much to do for this though living on the north east coast. The idea of adventure sounds wonderful at first glimpse, but dangerous at the surface. You really have to want to make this a part of your life style in order to survive it and stay safe. Sweet read as I ride on the NJ Transit.

  57. Reply ProoN May 23,2014 10:06 pm

    So, I’ve been considering hopping a train or two for .. well, several years now. Just haven’t had the nerve. This year is going to be the year I think- it’s the first time I’ve ever actually even bothered to look up the term “train hopping.” I walk to/along some tracks about a mile away all the time, mostly just to admire the graffiti when trains are stopped. Usually during broad daylight, sometimes at night though not nearly as often. Have never seen any kind of security, seems like it’d be simple to hop on. Also have never encountered any “punks” or “addicts” in the 3+ years I’ve been going. Is there anything specific one can expect the very first time they hop onto one? Is it likely I’ll get stabbed or anything? Reading some of these stories has me a bit apprehensive, but no to the point where I don’t want to try.

    • Reply Wes Modes May 24,2014 12:31 am

      I think it amazing unlikely you’ll get shanked. In fact, I’d be surprised if you met anything but friendly cool people. Most of the time when I go to the yards, I meet no one. Or I’ll meet some guy walking along a road adjacent to the tracks and we’ll “hey” each other, you know. Just know your safety stuff regarding train equipment and have a good ride.

      • Reply SomeDirtyKid Jun 1,2015 7:38 am

        I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that you have supposedly hopped freight since the early 90s and “rarely” run into bad people. Or maybe I’ve just run into every single scumfuck and gutter punk on the face of the planet in the time I’ve been hopping. I was running into shitty train core kids even before I started riding.

  58. Reply ts4287 May 28,2014 11:49 am

    Well, I just finished reading all of the comments on this site and I have to say it never fails to disappoint me when people insist on forming these hyper-judgemental “it’s our lifestyle, not yours” idealogies. Generally in my experience, if you’re interested enough in something you will eventually find a way to do it, and if you’re not then it won’t ever cross your mind. I understand the necessity of keeping certain things secret and yes, this article is open to the public, but I am positive that only a very small cross-section of it is actually going to read this because most kids DO just want to sit in their mom’s house and play video games or whatever. However, for people who want to change their lives and are looking for ways to do it, this is a good way to start thinking about it practically. A lot of people with little knowledge of the lifestyle (or are so super proud of themselves for having it) seem to attach a sense of grandeur to train hopping that glosses over the parts that require common sense and patience. That’s the gist of what I got from reading this and I think that was the reason it was published-not to invite everyone and their mother to be part of this sub-culture.

    I live in a city that gets a lot of trainhoppers and I’ve let many of them stay in my house. The ones that I let stay are the people who are just pumped for somewhere to sleep/refill their water bottles/drink rolling rock with me on my stoop-not the ones openly pissing on the corner or berating me for being a townie. My best friend train hopped for a while too and has never had that attitude. Acting like your lifestyle is some sort of sacred thing only meant for those who “deserve it” makes you come off as close-minded and stupid and DEFINITELY means you are not getting free beer from me. Unless you were born on a boxcar and rode trains all your life, you were a curious newbie once too. Stop yelling at someone for actually getting useful information out there to those who may not know the right people yet to ask for it.

    Thank you for continuing to share your article Wes. I hope anyone thinking about hopping their first train reads this.

  59. Reply Joshua Jun 2,2014 4:39 pm

    I think it’s interesting that a culture formed by people wanting to break the mold and fuck the government would be so elitist about their mode of transportation.

  60. Reply Jim Beam Jun 3,2014 3:54 pm

    Ok, I will throw in my two cents worth about this site and what I have read. And some warnings for newbies who want to start riding trains. I understand what some of these guys are saying when they talk about secrecy and not publishing this info, not to say there is a whole lot of info on this site except Very basic information and I would not advise anyone to ride freight just by reading about it. I started ridding because a friend of mine rode and he is the one who introduced me into the lifestyle. I spent a lot of time hitching before I started ridding trains. I was accepted, more or less, by this sub-culture and I have rode ever since for the last 5 years. The first thing any newbie should know is that it is absolutely true that this lifestyle is really dangerous and I personally have known kids who have died in this shit, so its not all glamorous. Its not just riding trains that is dangerous, its the culture itself. A lot of the people your going to run into are outlaws, guys that have been in and out of jail or prison and they’re violent as fuck. They are not all Oogle, hippie kids looking for an adventure. I’ve seen people get severely beaten, jumped, fights break out etc. So if you are going to be an idiot and jump into this culture without someone to show you the ropes then my advice is to Be Careful! Respect shit! Respect is paramount! If you disrespect people, cut people off (i.e. panhandling in the wrong areas) trying to be a tough guy, getting drunk and running your mouth, your not going to last long and you’ll be lucky if you come out of it with just a knot on your head. Generally, if your not liked, they will tell you. If your sitting in a circle with a bunch of other kids drinking and they tell you to leave, then LEAVE! pick up your pack and go somewhere else, or go home! Not everyone is meant for this lifestyle, its rough and not always fun and games! There are kids out there who take this shit seriously! I know all this through trial and error, so believe me and take my advice!! My last and final piece of advice?? Please do not just up and decide to go on the road and start hopping freight by yourself without any experience or having an experienced person with you who knows what the fuck they are doing. If your hell bent on ridding or going on the road, go with someone, pay the fuck attention and learn the lifestyle, and once again respect shit! If you cant do that, then STAY THE FUCK HOME!!

    • Reply Wes Modes Jun 3,2014 6:45 pm

      This is all good advice. Respect goes a long way. I’ve never really had any serious conflicts with anyone on the road, but then I’m not a douche. Pay attention, learn from others, and don’t be douchey.

    • Reply dude Dec 4,2014 8:08 pm

      the police and bull are by far a much bigger threat than anyone you will ever meet on the road. 2nd to the train itself, which will injure you faster than any human. half the people warning about running into dangerous people are morons that threw all caution into the wind and probably were trying to hang with junkies and obviously fucked up old travelers.

      bring a couple friends, don’t bring $1000 worth of shit with you and use common sense. you’ll be absolutely fine, just always be cautious and if you’re new be aware that you’re naive, so be careful.

    • Reply SomeDirtyKid Jun 1,2015 7:47 am

      Jim Beam, that is the most sound advice I’ve read on this fucking webpage. It’s all about respect

  61. Reply Jim Beam Jun 3,2014 5:09 pm

    Oh yeah, and another warning to Newbies, I forgot to mention the parasites that you’ll definitely be exposed to while on the road such as lice, body lice( and yes the two lice are different), and scabies! Oh I also want to mention hepatitis is a mother fucker out there! Good luck on the travels…

  62. Reply Caleb Jun 18,2014 1:07 pm

    Trying to get some info on train hopping. I’m interested in planning a train hopping trip in august/september based out of the St. Louis area. My questions:

    1) How long does it take to travel by freight train? Looks like some trains will stop somewhere for a week, some while travel 200 miles in 3 days, and some will travel cross country in 3 days. If I wanted to travel from St. Louis to Memphis, or Atlanta, or New Orleans, etc. how much time would I have to account for travelling there?

    2) It looks like yards are good places to find trains. But also, sidings look good. Theres a spot by my house in St. Louis (about 8 miles west of the Mississippi R.) where I notice trains stopping for anywhere from 5-30 minutes before continuing on. I assume these trains are preparing to cross the mississippi. I thought about one day on an off day I could hop on one, and see how it goes. Alot of them are unit coal trains with an extra locomotive on the back you could ride in. The only problem, is I don’t know what the train would do. Maybe it would start moving and go right across the river into illinois, or maybe it would just go a few miles and stop in a major train yard. How can I get an idea of when a train will move and where it’s going?

    • Reply Wes Modes Jun 18,2014 3:50 pm

      I approved your comment because it has some good questions in it. However, please note (as I’ve said before) that I will remove any comments that offer specific advice about yards, locations, or catch out spots. I also will remove any of the surprising quantity of comments of the form, “Hey, I’d love to have a partner to ride with. If you are anywhere near XXX, hit me up!”

  63. Reply joshuaaa Jun 19,2014 11:19 am

    Been thinking about doing this for quite awhile. I’m in southern Oregon and wanting to leave soon. What are some good tips for knowing what trains are going where. I know you could ask workers, but if that doesn’t work is there any other way to figure it out? Like I have heard that you can tell by the numbers on the train but how does that work?

  64. Reply Dennis B Jun 21,2014 6:22 pm

    I’m having a hard time finding a freight line map. Every time I search for apps on my phone, Google maps comes up. Is this an adequate way to hop trains to where I need to go? Can anyone recommend any android aps for train maps?

    • Reply Caleb Jun 23,2014 4:02 pm

      Get rid of the smart phone and just look up “Union Pacific map” on your computer. Should come up with about 10 different pictures of the same map. Look up BNSF, CSX, NS, and KCS maps as well. Print em out and take em with you.

  65. Reply Granite goat Jun 30,2014 11:15 am

    For those searching for railroad maps, go to the goodwill or a used bookstore and find an old atlas from the forties or earlier. The atlas’s of that period show railroads not highways. You will be able to follow your progress quite easily.

  66. Reply Taigen Jul 11,2014 8:40 am

    No one group owns a life of train hopping. Everyone has their own reasons whether or not they fit into some contrived category. Information on how to be safe and to know the ropes is good for everyone. Some of you want this lifestyle all to yourself. Guess what? It’s not yours. People discover the northwest and now you can’t find parking for less than $10 the first hour. It’s the way it is. Some people yearn for adventure and this is one way to seek it. Some of you need to lighten up.

  67. Reply David Jul 14,2014 8:12 am

    I’ve hopped freights across the USA, from Chicago to Sacramento and from Alexandria VA to Jacksonville FL and numerous smaller trips.

    Of course, safety comes first. Research helps you stay safer, if you use trial and error, your errors could cause your death. To the previous comments about safety, I add these. If you ride in a box car, bring a small amount of rope to tie the door open. If the door slides shut and locks you in during a ride, you will die in the car before being found. As for walking in the freight yards, be constantly alert. There may be cars quietly moving alone without an engine. This happens all the time in “hump yards.” My personal decision was to NEVER get on or off a moving freight train. Never walk under the couplings or cars.

    You must find a place to be hidden in a car. If you can be seen from the outside, you will likely be removed from the train. The bull (or dick) often watches the train pass. Even if you get out of the yard, the bull will call ahead to have you removed. Usually, you are kicked out of the yard. Once, I was charged with unlawful train riding in the State of South Carolina and sat in a jail for a few hours. If you are being respectful and nice, you might find that railroad workers will tell you on which track the next east bound will leave. I found that my ride from Chicago to Sacramento and also the return trip took me about 8 days. I was able to hitch hike this much faster. In addition, riding the rails is dirty. You get covered with all sorts of grime and there is no bathroom to go wash in. Try to find “hot shot” trains. On the UP they are now called Z trains. These are the fastest without lots of local stops. If you get stuck on a local, you might walk to your destination faster. Once my box car was taken off in the middle of the night with me sleeping in it. I awoke in the middle of some Iowa corn field. I’ve also had all my gear stolen by a yard worker. I’ve been given a ride to the freeway by the bull. My decision was to ride alone or with a friend and not trust others who might be seen riding. Be quiet in the yards, do everything to blend in and not call attention to yourself. A cell phone is very helpful. You can use it for safety. You can use the GPS to make sure you are going in the right direction. You can use Google maps to navigate a freight yard. A paper map is very helpful once your battery on the cell dies. I never ended up going in the wrong direction because I went to yards that serviced the direction that I wanted to travel. Workers directed me to the correct trains, but often you have to wait for hours for the train to leave. You will find a few moments of joy, some of reflection but many of boredom. That being said, I might be doing a Southern California to Florida trip in August. I’d be open to some joining me. Reply to my message if interested.

    • Reply Siphran Sep 2,2014 3:28 pm

      Hey David, I have a lot of questions about your experiences train hopping. You said that you’ve gone close to all over the US riding rail. thereal(insert name) via gmail. If you could reply soon thatd be great.

    • Reply Kalea Apr 26,2015 8:58 pm

      Hi David! Did you end up going from Southern California to Florida last year? If so – I would love to hear about your experiences. Let me know.

  68. Reply Carnybarney Aug 4,2014 4:37 pm

    I lived on a circus train for four years. I miss the rails. I want to catch a train from Houston to Los Angeles. Anybody In the Houston area into the moniker scene. Hit me up

  69. Reply rumford Aug 12,2014 11:41 pm

    hello i am interested in going from nova scotia to alberta, and was wondering for some advice or which train goes long distance west? thanks, and i enjoyed reading everybodys comments, cheers

  70. Reply Outraged conductor Aug 30,2014 10:16 am

    Idiots like y’all are why I carry a pipe wrench at work. Don’t let me catch your ass on my train.

  71. Reply wolfie88 Sep 17,2014 1:23 pm

    Well I have caught out a total of three times with some really cool traveling kids I met,all they had to say was if you can keep up.. It a lifestyle I do enjoy for the most part but I don’t wish to do it just myself so I was hoping I could intrigue another guy I have just sold my car and in ready to run again … I am in the IE “California” please contact me if your cool with the idea

  72. Reply John Burns Sep 22,2014 12:13 pm

    Ive been riding since 1990 an i will say this its harder now cause a lot of these dirty kids an dopeheads dont do anything but beg an get drunk or shootup wont work an then they get aggressive cause someone says no then when a hobo comes to town he`s treated like shit Cause the kids before burned it up i`ve taught a few people how to ride some listened the others i don`t know.

    I was taught to respect my ride an respect the citizens don`t fuck it up for the next guy but these punks who think they`re so tough cause they got a bunch of friends they`re just trust fund kids mommy took away their toys they ranaway they brag i made $300 on this corner next thing every oogle is bound for that spot then these young girls get drunk start fights then next thing you know she`s claiming she got raped
    Meanwhile us old school hobos are fighting to get work at the labor halls busting our ass for $50 these dumbasses stand on the corner same spot for a month an blame us cause its burned out

    Then you got these kids born in 76 rode their first train in 78 rode solo in 80 they aint 40 yrs old yet claim they`re FTRA lol i call them out say you Fixin To Ride Amtrak

    • Reply Wes Modes Sep 22,2014 12:27 pm

      I don’t disagree that acting shitty in a town blows it up for other people. Spare changing to buy malt liquor at 10am is not my personal idea of fun. But most of the street kids I met — even if they came from middle class families — really are dirt poor. The widely-told story of street kids who have trust funds they draw from is a myth, a way of delegitimizing their experience of living on the street.

      And living on the street is hard. Particularly for women. Sexual assault is real and happens. Not stoked to see anyone broadly deny women’s claims of sexual assault.


    • Reply Blade Mar 12,2018 8:25 pm

      That FTRA is a good one Mr. burns. i usually say Fraid To Ride Alone always in packs like dirty wolves and i respect wolves.

  73. Reply Emily Oct 26,2014 7:59 pm

    I’m trying to learn as much as I can on here before I head out to find my train hopping companions for the summer and have a few questions.
    1) Where on the train is it best to ride, the back, middle or front, or does it really matter at all, as long as you find a safe car to ride in?
    2) Also, boxcars are few and far between in my area, but I’ve heard from friends that grainers are a good ride. Just wondering how safe those platforms are once the train starts moving? My biggest (and quite possibly illogical fear) is the train cars bumping into one another and me going flying off. I almost feel like tying myself in for a long ride would be a good idea, that way you could sit on the platform without the fear of falling off…

    • Reply The Badger Nov 28,2014 3:10 pm

      Hi Emily, to answer your questions. middle to back of train is preferred. I like the back because I figure there are less eyes that might see you. Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone’s got one so…. Grainers are the best ride since most have a round hole access that opens to a space large enough for you and your gear. and a great hiding spot. If you haven’t already check out hobo shoestring on youtube. Lots of great advice from an “old timer”. Be safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

  74. Reply peters94114 Nov 16,2014 12:03 pm

    Hey Hey, I’m looking to train hop from Bay area and really been dreaming of doing it. Any of you guys been doing it in my hood? any advices

  75. Reply Austin Nov 27,2014 1:24 am

    Nice article. I’ve been doing a lot of research and if I’ve come to a conclusion its that you just got to do it and learn. I’m in southern Florida and planning on hopping and hitching west, mostly for the adventure. Its something ive always wanted to do and know id regret never doing it.

    I’d rather not go alone though so if there is anyone in the area who would want to join me, hit me up!

  76. Reply The Badger Nov 28,2014 1:00 pm

    Hi Wes, I enjoy reading the various posts and comments shared by others. Don’t take your site down, information is information. It seems to me it is up to the person seeking information to decide for her/him what makes sense and what doesn’t. Your personal safety and any others hopping with you should a number 1 priority. If it looks or sounds unsafe don’t chance it! We are living in a time when we are constantly told to be afraid of this or that. B.S. folks, this country was built by folks who didn’t listen to the noise of being told to be afraid. The fact is fear equals respect. Be respectful of what surrounds you and don’t be careless. Thank you Wes!

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  78. Reply S.I.B. Dec 11,2014 4:50 pm

    Hey, just wanted to say this is great piece of information, and I’m glad you’ve published it. Took me a while to find something worth reading… Thinking about switching from hitchin’ to hoppin’ for a while. Safe Travels!

  79. Reply your friend, stax Jan 12,2015 12:30 am


    been a very long time…
    long live

    thanks for helping inform the uninformed. i don’t believe this posted here violates any imaginary rules or crosses any nonexistent boundaries. stay safe. (:

  80. Reply I Wonder Jan 23,2015 10:39 am

    Freight hopping in Europe, as mentioned above? C’mon. Its a joke and I doubt if it is true. Very short distances, train yards totally illuminated, no “bull” by a private company, but directly state police involved…..the freight train handling is rather different from the US and CAN; forget it. It is not true; and if, then maybe a 150km distance, involving 2 days of getting on and off the train ;-)

    • Reply Wes Modes Jan 23,2015 10:43 am

      True. Believe it. Hobo Lee, who published There’s Something About A Train for years, spent the summer of 2005 trainhopping all over Europe. In fact, he wrote a great ‘zine about it (ever Punny) called Eurahobo.

  81. Reply Johnny the Hobo Feb 5,2015 11:13 pm

    I suggest to carry a radio scanner to monitor railroad frequencies,you can monitor the RR police too! Frequencies available do an Internet search. Be careful on carrying a concealed weapon! Some states it may be a felony offense! If you have a valid CCW permit from your home state, it may be honored in another state. Check the states laws on CCW. I would carry an extra back-up cell phone in case I would get robbed or best to carry an expired one. Money? Carry a phony wallet with a $5 bill and old business cards inside to hand over to the robber. You can hide your state I.D. or driver’s license, cash, debit card, credit card or a pre-paid credit like card like the Green Dot Card in hidden pockets. I wear a 5.11 tactical vest, the vest has hidden pockets. There is wind-up mini radios that can also charge your cell phone while on the go. Carry emergency contact information in case something bad happens to you. Check maps for public land to camp out on. Camp fires not to be seen, build a Dakota Hole, look it up on the net. I like to carry a military surplus pack, they’re build to last and are made for tough terrain. Thanks for the article! I enjoyed reading the comments!

    • Reply BelongToJesus Jun 27,2015 1:47 am

      Great suggestions Johnny the Hobo. And not just for freighthopping (I’m thinking camping, general travel safety tips, doomsday prepping, etc…)! God bless you in your travels. And you too, Wes. God bless and thanks for this informative website. (By the way, why do all the dissenters above keep calling people who may read this site and begin to train hop “kids”? I’m a 47-year-old woman and am interested in riding the rails. And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna do it. Just interested.)

  82. Reply Jonathan W. Pressman Feb 14,2015 1:49 am

    You write a lot in these comments about the disappearing life style of tramps. Can people still make it these days being nomads in the US?

  83. Reply lovelace Apr 25,2015 9:05 pm

    hey guys, having never hopped before, i’m trying to do as much research as i can so that i avoid as many wrong turns/death as possible. i’m planning on catching a ride out of alabama, does anyone have any experiences with alabama that may be helpful to me?

  84. Reply marcus Jun 11,2015 10:42 pm

    looking for companionship on the road i dont drink or do drugs just smoke and drink coffee have a dog named
    amos i live in upper michigan i would be willing to hop a train if somone wants to guide us but i normally walk and hitchick can fend for myself no problem but my dog cant hold long conversations names marcus

    • Reply patrick Dec 13,2016 5:36 pm

      Hey I’ve been hopping for about a year and am about ready to do it again. It’s dangerous, yet when you’re done you’ve got one hell of a story to tell. What part of Alabama do you live in?

  85. Reply hung like a mule Jul 16,2015 4:56 pm


  86. Reply Art101 Jul 21,2015 1:38 pm

    Great stuff Wes.I have done some riding and enjoy everything of yours I have come across.Love the oogle def. so true.

  87. Reply Doug Aug 11,2015 11:21 am

    wow, interesting. I rode freights in the 1970s and wrote a book called Good Company: A Tramp Life. I’m now revising it and came upon this blog… I spent my life as a sociology professor and did a lot of wandering around the world in the meantime, but never returned to the freights. Much of what I read above reminds me of when I rode the freights, but much is new. There were almost no kids on the trains. I was young, in my mid 20s. many of the tramps were WWII vets. I wrote about a tramp way of life, that still was connected to the old history of the hobo. It was real. I rode the hiline several times from MPLS to the west coast and picked apples with tramps in the Okanagan River valley one year. The book tells the story of one tramp I spent over a month with, I’m sure he’s long dead now.

    It was dangerous then like it’s dangerous now. Jackrollers rode to rob you of wages or whatever. I was nearly robbed of all my notes and film (I’m a photographer) by a two jackrollers in Whitefish, MT, on the way back east; stupid to be there at the end of the harvest. But it general the men I met were old time tramps; there was still work for them and still a lot of imagination in their souls.

    A couple of years ago a friend and I tried to revisit the yards I’d written though several times in Wenatchee, Havre and other places and we were run out by bulls every time we got close. Anyway, this blog and others tell me the trains still carry humans, and … well, I guess you are tramps. Goodluck and stay safe. It’s not a gentle world out there.

  88. Reply Eleanor Aug 29,2015 11:46 am

    I don’t want to hop a train or break the law but an you safely use the tracks as a guide for walkkng from northern to Southern Illinois? I want to walk from state line to state line but not on the road. Can it be done?

  89. Reply roadkid Sep 1,2015 11:41 pm

    Ive been on the road on since I was 18 after being in group homes and detetion facilities my whole adolescence. Been all over the lower 48 and Alaska hitch hiking and never hopped a train, and Im so burned out on hitching and sleeping under overpasses for days when I hit a shitty town, Im considering it. I just cant stand some of these motherfuckers man, they just straight up weird as fuck and cocky. I got mad respect for a lot of train kids and hitch hiked with some of them and they were chill as fuck, but some of these dudes are just delusional thinking they so hardcore, and anyone who hitchhikes travels differently is a kook. These “crustier than thou” kids I have no patience for they think they own the rails and have little respect for the rest of the travelling community. Fuck man I do this shit to see the amazing nature this country has to offer, meet awesome people along the way and enjoy my life to the fullest. why these kids gotta hate so much I dont know but I dont see them doing much but getting drunk and talking shit on other traveling kids. I guess my point is, to all the shit talkers in these comments, have some fucking humility and realize youre not the only ones out there getten after it. If and when I hop freight I’ll be glad I read this and hopefully some are out there like OP thats still willing to help some green kids out. Im just burned out on hitch hiking and I really hope most train riders aren’t as douchey and obnoxious as the kids I’ve been running into lately, talken bout “I ride trains fuck the homebums yada yada” shut the fuck up we’re all out here man.. anyways good info up top and in the comments I got mad respect for you guys either way, just wish there was more unity in the travelling community

    • Reply Thelonian Flix Nov 29,2016 10:20 am

      Hey roadkid. I’m looking to do some traveling on the rails but I can’t find someone to show me the ropes here in NYC. I’m sure there must be someone here I just don’t know where to look. A friend of my mother said he’d been to 48 states catching freight trains but he hadn’t done it in a while and I think it would be better to meet someone that would be willing to travel with me now. I’ve heard there’s quite a large population of kids that use freight trains as a way to get around and survive. I’d love to meet someone from this community and travel with them. Should I just look around at one of the NYC train yards or do you have any other ideas as to where to find some people so help me.
      Thanks for the insight on some of the down sides of the traveling community.

  90. Reply Grey Sep 29,2015 10:02 pm

    I don’t know any experienced riders and I would like to learn the ropes. Can I find people who are experienced in any freight yard in a big city? I just need to find a group of people to travel with and mentor me but I dont know how to find anyone.

  91. Reply Havescissorswillwork Sep 30,2015 7:07 am

    Uh GDI this is funny and all dirtykids talking about blowing spots up… here’s the real deal if you are desperate to hop freight do it! You probably don’t care what direction you go, that being said if you are smart you can figure out where or at least what direction you will end up haha but here’s the thing it sucks, and now I can’t call in my trains (with out some social engineering and luck) anymore so I am looking shit up on the net and find this gem :) great read but if anyone knows a legit fast way to track BNSF or UP trains I am in a spot where if I hop a random going south I end up going west but if I’m unlucky I end up going way south no big deal but if I am real unlucky I end up in the damn yard north of town and stay the night in jail which I would like to avoid since I have a sweet dog that I don’t beat lol to give you an idea I am not a bum dirty or junkie but need to get out west for work I’m poor and desperate but not stupid I just hate I can’t get the info I want and can’t ask anyone since my hop out spot is no where near rail workers, is there anyway to look up engine numbers or schedules not crew change I have one of those but like there has to be a way I can get a schedule of sorts to tell me west on this track on Mondays in the pm or am for example it could be that vague I just don’t want to end up in Arkansas or jail and loose my dog!

  92. Reply MMMfakoff Oct 6,2015 11:46 am

    What’s with all the chicken****s trying to scare people away from their gay little train hopping culture? One thing I’ve learned is that this world, the homeless, the transients and the freight-hoppers, is rank with fear. Fear has a way of making a grain of sand look like a universe. When some burnt out meth head’s trying to scare me with the local lore, I usually just smile.

    Now, the big city yards are something else. Like any big city you should be armed with something- if anything at least to beat off stray dogs (and people). Hide a good size ass whippin stick, and when some crusty idiot starts trying to put the fear in you, walk away.

    Also, it’s better to travel alone and not associate. If you try to immerse yourself in the local scene, if you can’t go it alone and at night, then you’re better off not trying this crap. Go be with people, where it’s warm, where you belong.
    Like any intelligent person- do crime at night and alone and without that eternal monkey wrench which messes everything up- OTHER PEOPLE.

  93. Reply sandstone Oct 10,2015 10:05 am

    I am trying to find my child. He is 17 named Curry or Levon He left VA three or four weeks ago and he went through Minneapolis, Minn. and made it to Oregon ten days ago. He called me at that time and was going to back track to Virginia. He wanted to come home that’s why we are concerned as to what could have happened to him and most of all , we just want to know if he is still alive, since we haven’t heard from him.? how long does it take to get to VA from Oregon. This is important, so can you give me any advice. thank you !

  94. Reply Red Do Dec 8,2015 11:22 am

    Ya’ll need to calm down about this “Blow up effect”. Karl Marx wrote a book about Communism and the whole world did not turn that direction. ITs a slippery slope you guys are being entertained with. If you personally do not want to share information than thats all up to you, but you can not blame others for being interested or sharing. Stop acting like entitled assholes.

    Everyone has their own head to use. So if they go out there and end up dying then so be it. Death is only natural. Everyone started a newbie, and if your afraid people are going to get killed then maybe you should offer more advice and help.

  95. Reply AmsterDan Dec 10,2015 1:03 am

    Hey Wes Modes, just wanted to say this is a great thread. I found it quite entertaining and i’m pleased to hear so many folks are still out there riding the rods. Lol!
    I started hopping freights in Canada back in the mid 70’s when I was 14. I and a couple buddies used to take off every weekend while we were in high school, venturing off in all directions exploring the countryside. What great adventure. I continued to ride the rails for the next 2 decades, purely for pleasure. After high school we rode clear across Canada. I’ve traversed the country over a dozen times. I’ve even hopped freights in Europe. I’ve certainly made my miles.

    Anyway, your exchange here has brought back a boxcar full of memories. Thanks,


  96. Reply daypal Jan 3,2016 5:49 pm

    Love hopping from Detroit to Windsor , all the automotive parts , cars and steel, border crossing is a breeze , it moves quickly and the return is as easy , stay off the drugs and booze and it can be a blast ps no passport needed

    • Reply Luke Feb 14,2016 8:55 pm

      Im from the detroit area and have absolutely no experience with hopping freight. Do you have any experience with riding in the lapeer/flint area?

    • Reply Sam Jun 9,2017 10:21 pm

      Daypal, I assume the only way is via underneath tunnel, but I read they’ve placed Xrays or/and termal cameras to catch and riders, probably BS. I would love to try it, but that is extreme hopping..which is a level high..

  97. Reply Shelley Feb 11,2016 1:22 am

    Hey, started hoping when I was about 16 in 99′. Had the time of my life. Was old by some at first I couldn’t ’cause I was a girl, but I did just fine. Loved riding through the mountains where the cars don’t go. Stopped in my early 20s to do more forest defense and settle on a commune for awhile. Wonder if people still ride. Miss partying it up in the cities.

  98. Reply C ray Mar 6,2016 9:19 pm

    Trying to get back to Houston from Memphis first timer should I even attempt solo….. Any advice or info needed

  99. Reply Lu Mar 25,2016 6:14 pm

    This was such a interesting read. Really inspiring and full of great advice. Alas I’m just a Baltimore gal trying to see life from another perspective. I have a few retired freight hopping friends who don’t want to travel anymore and thus can’t show me the ropes. They all have highly suggested this but I need a experienced person to show me the ins aand outs. Please any kind person out there be willing to meet me here maybe during death fest ? I know where to hop out I just would like not to go at this unsafely and hurt myself or ruin it for others. Please email me

  100. Reply Safety Apr 28,2016 12:54 pm

    I do not want to get robbed on the train road, should I bring pepper spray, knife? Or should I just rely on the old fists? Or should I even be worried I can see why some would be violent in the hopping culture. Desperation, very poor, no place to call home. I’m very understanding but I want to spend a while on the road and to do so I have to bring a camera cell phone and credit card. Any advice would help! BTW I’m a U.S. kid that feels like hopping the freight will be an escape from my industrialized life style. Everything I do is inhuman and I feel like living out in the wild using trains for transportation occasionally visiting towns might give me a true feeling of freedom. No where to be, anywhere to go, self reliant for survival.

  101. Reply Andrew May 18,2016 1:59 pm

    hey so im a high school dropout trying to hop a train out of Oakland California any tips people can give me?

  102. Reply Rick1401 Jul 20,2016 12:42 pm

    Hey Wes Modes, is hopping in the montgomery, al region hard or is it just really stupid? Thanks!

  103. Reply Loki-Motive Sep 8,2016 7:01 am

    I’m thinking about rideing soon i’ve always wanted to since i was a teenager…alot of good information here made me think of things i didnt think of…thank you for the information the only question i got is do you think train rideing is still easy to get away with and evade problems with the athoritys?

  104. Reply cool kid Sep 9,2016 11:01 am

    would it be possible to hop on a slow moving train or get off of one without hurting yourself. Im thinking about taking a trip but not far.

  105. Reply Zach Sep 24,2016 2:40 pm

    Hey Wes. I live in Obion, TN. There is a train track not too far from whee I live. So I am gonna go with your advice. Hopefully I won’t get caught or injured. Your own safety is very important.

  106. Reply H.mast Oct 15,2016 8:33 am

    My son is missing. He was last known to be in Mactier Ontario. Train hopping home to be. We have not heard from him for 6 days. Any help to get started on this I would be very grateful.

  107. Reply crybus Nov 22,2016 2:22 am

    El Paso, Texas, looking to hit a northbound train. Advice?…

  108. Reply Felix Thelonious Nov 28,2016 7:43 pm

    Hello I’m probably too late to get a response but I considering using this form of of transportation for a trip across America that I’ve been planning for about a year now and saving up for (I’m a student so I make very lithe money). I live In Brooklyn, NYC and I’m looking for someone to show me the ropes. There’s all sorts of people in New York so I’m sure I can find someone I just don’t know where to look. Reviewing the comments it keeps on coing back to the “punk, rainbow, traveling kid community” which I’m eager to meet just cause it sounds like one hell of an amazing community but are these people easy to find in any train yard or is it easier in certain area’s. From the documentaries I’ve watched on American travel and nomadic life, it seems most of these sort of people are usually in the west along with the rest of the American Nomadic culture. Do you or anyone reading this think that I could find people at a local train yard or would I have to go a little west to start coming across people to help me on my journey.
    To the author of this article, thank you. You’re probably the most if not the only helpful online resource for research on this topic.

  109. Reply Quintin Dec 4,2016 9:12 am

    Hello, as Felix said I am probably to late to get a response but why not try, I live in Sussex Wisconsin, a small village with a rail road going threw it look it up on google maps, and i live near the trakes. Im thinking of over the summer jumping a train, maybe with a buddy but probably alone. i dont want to go north into candida but im any were else would be fine. The problem is for starters I can not find a map of the rail roads in Wisconsin and secondly i live near a quarry were the train load stone, a bad place to get stuck. If anyone has any tips or maps contact me, Thanks!

    P.S thanks to the author thus was very helpfully.

  110. Reply Quintin Jan 28,2017 5:33 pm

    To anyone who may care here is a like of all the rail roads in the US. Hoping to hop my first train this summer!

  111. Reply Tad Jan 29,2017 2:29 pm

    Thank you so much for these tips!!!!! I pretty much knew the bulk, but those little things helped fill in where they needed to be ☺ Anyways, I was thinking on going on a trip out of Oklahoma, but, like most other people here, I’d rather not go alone!! And also, I was wondering how you just “talk” to railroad workers… And if anybody is thinking about the offer, if anybody even goes on this site anymore email me!

  112. Reply Tad Jan 29,2017 2:45 pm

    1) Do all yards have bulls?
    2) How do I not “ruin it for the others”? More specifically than “don’t be stupid” pleaseeeee
    3) If I’m going with a pack, should there be a certain amount of days I should pack food for?
    4) For going on an adventure cross-country, would it be better to go east or west?

  113. Reply Kris Mar 5,2017 2:54 pm

    Wow came across this feeling kind of nostalgic for days passed. I road the rails late 80s early 90s. Was a fun and scary time in my life, grew up very poor folks did not really care for or about me. Lived in the port city of long beach ca trains tacks a blocks away. Going all over the us. Did Not have much the way in equipment, I wore old army surplus clothes old boots had a knife and a old 22 pistol. My friend Jason joined me on our Adventures. We rode mostly alone Southern California, until we start adventuring North. Want to venture towards Oregon Washington and others day we started meeting up with older gentleman they have been riding the rails for years. After talking with them did generally respect and accept us as we come from hard backgrounds. We where not Arrogant or judgmental and respected them as well. Learned a great deal from them overtime, they hated the college kid types doing it for a thrill. Most of the time we would hang at the back of the train for those kids to hop on have them follow us to a box car or empty gondola. Where they would be robbed. Rich kids with their fancy L.L.Bean REI clothing Fancy camera frame backpacks little camp stoves. Would be taken and pawned in town we would get a small cut. We got by on that and breaking into paper boxes, ride machines things like that. We would also do odd jobs like wash windows or pump gas for big rigs at truck stops. A buck or 2 here or better yet a ride to a new yard. I could go on about this for days.

  114. Reply Justin patton Mar 5,2017 6:47 pm

    To all you haters …… no, I will be civil.
    First agreed we need to protect our children. Though if they are determined enought to look this up.? Good it’s here, be real. allow them to educate them selves on what they are about to embark on!! Me as a 28 year old idgaf about illegal most people will warn you cops are coming before snitching…. I want to do this for adventure and as a type of walkabout type thing let he who lives with out sin cast the first stone ………… thank you authors for your wisdom

  115. Reply Kris Mar 6,2017 2:02 pm

    Someone asking how you get in and out of gondolas relatively simple if you prepare for it. Learned this from an old school real hobbo. He was an ex Merchant Marine comma did you get yourself some good rope 20 to 25 feet tie a bowline knot at one end and then every foot-and-a-half to feet tie a dropper Loop that’s big enough to fit your foot in you pass the line under the top rung of the ladder. Then you pull the other end through the end of the bowline sung it up. There you go you have a rope ladder to get in and out.

  116. Reply Navigator Mar 20,2017 8:43 pm

    Felix, I am Rainbow and do not hop anymore… The best way to find local family is on the different rainbow facebook pages.

    For those in general reading this thread. As technology has progressed it has made tools available to train riders that were not available in the mid 90’s when this article was published.. now you can go online and search different rail lines train codes to find out what trains go where and then listen in on a scanner for the right train or in some cases you don’t even need a scanner. You can listen on your smartphone in certain areas through the broadcastify app or at

  117. Reply Sucksfortrainrides Jun 21,2017 8:38 pm

    Jesus, for a beginner article you sure use a lot of train lingo. This helped me about 1/10

  118. Reply Brian Cray Nov 13,2017 12:38 pm

    Hey man,

    Fellow rider here who spent the last 8 months riding nowhere in particular. I really enjoyed the article and your comment at the bottom of the post. I enjoy writing about my travels hitchhiking, and freight hopping, not really too much into the ‘scene’ since I’m more of a loner, but I was wondering if you recommended any blogs that had similar content about stories on the rails or had any other book recommendations. I enjoy reading people’s adventures in my spare time when I am not writing my own.

    Brian Cray

  119. Reply mark fisher Nov 14,2017 6:31 pm


    tks for the post

    where's a good place a local freighttrainyard to start trainriading? — i live down in LA's san fernando Valley – the eastside in Burbank&glendale.

    a ladyfriend of mine is out riding the trains up and down the westcoast and I'm heading-out to reconnoiter w/her.

    pls will you give a good tip-off place to start? ( i know what to bring in a hikersbackpack– I used to hitchhike around as a teen up in freeland, WA) -(i'm 30 yrs old male, now , in 2017)

  120. Reply Desertfox Nov 17,2017 7:54 pm

    Just a respectful shout out to the family and friends of the late James Stobie aka Stobe the Hobo. His memorial service is in Denver on Monday. As sad loss for all train fans. May God rest his soul and comfort those who mourn. May his soul seek the rest and freedom it was searching.

  121. Reply Ming Jeng Aug 14,2018 2:06 pm

    Hi, I’m about to start my first hitchhiking journey from the West Coast to the East Coast. Freight Hopping caught my interest and I’m wondering if there’s a website that shows all the train routes and where the trains are and when they depart, and their destinations etc.

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