Hitting the Rails: Hobo Life

1st April 1939: Tramp, John Walpole, draws a chalk cross on the wall of a farmhouse where they gave him food. A mark to remind himself when he passes that way again that they treated him well. Source: (gettyimages.ie)

When the Great Depression hit, jobs dried up and families lost their houses and farms. In desperation, many hard-working, able-bodied men left home in search of any work they could get. Thousands upon thousands of predominantly young, white, single men hopped on board the hobo culture, riding the rails in search of odd jobs and seasonal work. Lest you think this group was just a bunch of lazy, free-loading, trouble-causing bums, let’s look at the ins and outs of the Great Depression’s hobo culture.