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The Hobo Code was written there in , an outline of ethical hobo practice and communal etiquette. The country is growing in booms and busts, and transient work like lumbering and mining and seasonal fruit picking are moving west into parts of the country without much population, so the hobo follows. And in the same way coffeehouses were indispensable to the American Revolution, railroads and hobos become an integral part of the modern U. The Industrial Workers of the World, its members known as the Wobblies, is founded in Chicago in Its radical labor politics and spirit are then widely and passionately distributed by rail, by hobos coming and going around the country, like an injection into the national bloodstream.

But the greatest of these, and most famous, was Joe Hill. Hobos came and went on the huge historic construction and infrastructure projects of the American West, and ridership rose and fell with the national economy. For decades fruit tramps are hauled west by rail, picking the produce that would soon ship east by boxcar at a premium price. When the veterans came home from World War II, they bought cars or motorcycles and rubber-tramped.

Fewer and fewer depended on the railroad. Populations of employable Americans filled in almost every corner of the map. Eventually that mobile surplus labor force became less necessary to the national economy. Even the old art forms, like the hobo nickel and the wooden cigar box carving, were slowly being lost. The transition from steam to diesel marks the beginning of the end for the Great Age of the Hobo, and the numbers have been declining ever since.

To have been a hobo—or a tramp or a bum—is a pretty loosely held title, hard to pin down biographically.

Off the Main Lines: A Photographic Odyssey

They were scenery bums. Douglas is thought to have hoboed his way across country to attend law school. Hunt, all went on the bum. The best description of Jack Dempsey, hobo and heavyweight champion of the world, was written by Jim Murray, one of the greatest sportswriters who ever lived:. By the end of the 19th century, all that steam-engine tramping and rail riding and the romance of what lies past the horizon begins to appear as a subgenre of our national literature. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.

Trilogy , the hobo is no longer just a foil or a cautionary tale, but the protagonist, often driven away from home and into the world by injustice.

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That impulse travels all the way up the line to Jack Kerouac and the Beats. By then there was plenty of social science writing about hobos too, the most famous being The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man by Nels Anderson, In the years since, hundreds of other books and studies and dissertations have drawn on its initial research. And once every ten years or so, another writer hops a freight and writes a book about it.

Hobos have been stock characters in the movies since the days of the hand-cranked nickelodeon. Charlie Chaplin took the American hobo global. By camouflaging it as comedy, he presented us then—and presents us still—the tragedy of modernity. Every hobo is a commentary on capitalism. Meant to discourage Depression-era runaways and warn young Americans about the risks of vagrancy and the hobo jungle, it had the opposite effect, and was so thrilling it became a kind of recruiting instrument.

You see this in how those well-meaning SDSU students costume themselves. The s delivered Emperor of the North Pole and Bound for Glory , two of the best, and last, movies of the genre. There are events in Britt all week, beginning, ceremonially anyway, with the lighting of the jungle campfire, in which the hobos call down the blessings and benedictions of the Four Winds.

This they do in the breezeless summer heat, and the next few days will be spent walking back and forth from the jungle to the midway and the park and the museum. The walls are lined with these paintings of past royalty, including legends like Iowa Blackie and Bo Grump. The portraits are all painted by Leanne Marlow Castillo, a local artist of skill and renown. She is I was asked to restart an art show. I started painting them, and I painted six the first year, eight the second year. During Hobo Days, the mayor himself works at the counter. Start Saturday in the little park by the gazebo, but start early—the big pots of mulligan stew went on the boil long before sunrise.

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The recipe is simple, which is roughly true to the origin of the dish: Whatever the hobos had went into the pot. The old-timers set up their lawn chairs on the sidewalk, and lots of folks from out of town stand lining the streets and spooning up free stew. The parade snakes a long S-shape through town, doubling back on itself.

I was out front of the fire station for most of it, and caught licorice whips and bits and pieces of conversations as they went past. Those SDSU students, here doing research for their own homecoming Hobo Day, are out in their tin lizzie, waving and honking and having fun. The little park is packed shoulder to shoulder. Every candidate for king and for queen has a minute or two to state their case. At the end of the speeches, the audience votes by applause and the judges crown the victors. My dad Connecticut Slim was crown prince of the Hobos for life.

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If you elect me, I will promote Britt Hobo history. I also will help to make the old State Bank into a hotel, which Britt really needs. So more people can stay in Britt and know what a great stay it is. Thank you.

Off the Main Lines: A Photographic Odyssey by Don L. Hofsommer, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

This is very special. It all gets left behind. It makes me a different kind of person. I wander with the winds. I know that a lot of people wish they could do the same. It takes a lot. Only that Now, I grew up with the hobos, they came to my house. They even took me on my first ride, all the way to Long Island, New York. Britt has been an escape since I was a child.

And I would love, really love to show the people out there, the world, what the wealth that the hobo family and that the town of Britt shows, because this is one of the best places. Dutch and Crash both look surprised and sheepish, but happy, in their robes and crowns. Ecce Hobo. It is a fair accounting of the day to say there were 2, attendees—and 2, participants. The carnies are all parked in their campers over on East Center Street, just up the block from the Toilet Bowl Races—a timed, point-to-point-to-point event involving teams of three pushing toilet bowls on wheels, the rapid consumption of popular snacks, a great deal of toilet paper and many teeny-weeny toilet trophies.

My daughter has one of the Steam Train Maury walking sticks from way back when. So our kids are now grown and they come back to Britt with their kids. And now we babysit the kids while they do a little bit more of the activities. This they do, graciously, and every couple of minutes a citizen snaps a selfie, or gets a portrait made with royalty. Folks come and go, but one man hovers a few feet away for a while and watches it all with interest.


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Its stub-end passenger facility was at the eastern boundary of downtown. Crews changed elsewhere, and CGW had only abbreviated yard facilities. In , CGW carded double-daily passenger operation on its Minneapolis—Omaha line through Fort Dodge, along with two two-time freights and one local in each direction. By construction on its own and by acquisition of existing properties, a new route linking Fort Dodge and Des Moines was cobbled together in Electrification followed.

In , it scheduled four daily passenger runs from Fort Dodge to Des Moines, with freights operating for the most part at night. During the mids it was virtually impossible to be outside at Fort Dodge and not hear whistles, bells, or engine exhaust from some part of town. IC was majordomo, all steam with the most melodic of steamboat whistles, Pacifics and occasionally a Mountain on passenger assignments, Mikados and Mountains on freights, with barrel-chested 0—8—0s and perky 0—6—0s in switching and helper service. CGW used 4—6—0s and 4—6—2s on passenger runs, with 2—8—2s assigned to freight.

Single cars normally were adequate on Fort Dodge Line passenger runs, although there were times when demand required cars in multiple, while freight motors handled switching duties and the usually scheduled nocturnal drags.

The Wabash Railroad

Illinois Central was majordomo at Fort Dodge. Crews changed there, as did locomotives, except passenger power. IC's roundhouse-service facility was a busy place as a result. A class Mikado with auxiliary tank has arrived with a drag from the west and awaits attention. The steam-powered clamshell at right served to clean the ash pits.

IC's substantial freight house looms in the background. April 11, In early , IC still dispatched its road trains to and through Fort Dodge with steam power, but diesel switchers like supplanted the usual 0—6—0s and 0—8—0s that increasingly found themselves slumbering in the roundhouse. Late in the afternoon of February 10, the nearly new diesel lines up with 2—8—2s and resting together.

Mikados like Lima-built were ubiquitous. On this October day in , it would wheel train 75 Dispatch CC3 on the mile dash from Fort Dodge to Council Bluffs, replacing a 4—8—2 that brought the train from Waterloo. Diesels soon would end the reign of 4—6—2s and 4—8—2s on the Hawkeye , but on March 27, , Mountain had the honors.

The train would make eleven station stops west of Fort Dodge before completing its run from Chicago to Sioux City. By the late s, Geeps and E-units alternated as power on trains 11 and 12, the Hawkeye , but the evening routine for the eastbound run remained the same at Fort Dodge: a fifteen-minute pause to unload and load passengers, mail, express, and baggage.

July At left is one of the road's Russell snowplows, to the right, one of its Alco road switchers with Chicago Great Western's impressive bridge in the background. November 6, Four of them one is hidden await calls on the north side of the ramshackle roundhouse on a sparkling June morning in August Up from Des Moines en route to Minneapolis, train 1 warms in unseasonable sun on February 10, This August day of was steamy and hot, but passengers enjoyed air-conditioned comfort in the coach trailing GE Train 2, south of Badger, is about to roll down the valley into Fort Dodge.

Paul and Minneapolis on a daylight schedule. See details. See all 6 brand new listings. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Hofsommer , Paperback.


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Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information In this visually stunning and comprehensive photographic essay, railroad historian and photographer Donovan L. Hofsommer records the end of branchline passenger service, the demise of electric railroads, the transition from steam to diesel power, as well as the end of common carrier freight service on the Colorado narrow gauge.

Off the Main Line carries readers along out-of-the-way railways in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, and South Dakota to see the changes that occurred on these lines from the s to the s. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Writing quality of the introduction, photo captions, and brief conclusion is excellent.

Relatively few points are in need of correction or clarification. I strongly recommend publication. Within its pages, there are black and white pictures. Spanning from the s to the s, it portrays admirably, the vastness of the country, and how its railroad system has changed beyond recognition