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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Hopping a freight train

   
Author Topic: Hopping a freight train
Train Granny
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I'm visiting with my sister this morning and telling her about joining this discussion forum. . . describing all the interesting stuff you people share on here.

She asked me this question: Do you think any of those people have ever "jumped a freight train?" (My sister has always thought that would be fun!! ??)

After all I have read on this forum, I could not answer that question. Are real train "fanatics" likely to have "hitched a ride" on a freight car? Surely, some of you have done it!

Let me hear from you!

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Train Granny

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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Henry Kisor
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Not me. I can't imagine anything more foolhardy and dangerous than hopping a freight car in this day and age.
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chrisg
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Never! Never ! Never! Never!

In 1,327,178.9 Rail Miles.

Chris

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TwinStarRocket
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Boxcars (especially open) are not to common anymore, so people would be hard pressed to figure out where to ride. One guy told me he rode between the wheels of a semi-trailer on a flatcar. Another managed to get into the cab of a farm implement, but was not very hidden.

Since I live near a mainline between 2 intermodal unloading facilities, I have (rarely) run into folks who just rode freights, but none seemed the type I would care to strike up an extended conversation with. They might ask me to put them up for the night.

In my youth it was something I thought I might want to try, but only for the scenery not out of poverty.

There was local celebrity here in the midwest famous for being a hobo who just died.
http://globegazette.com/news/local/article_8ece67c6-40fc-11e0-b41b-001cc4c002e0.html

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Ocala Mike
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Never did it. Closest I came was hopping on the back of a Brooklyn trolley car as a 6 or 7 year old kid in Greenpoint.

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Ocala Mike

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Joe Urda
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While visiting FDR's Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga, I purchased a video on just this subject. The title is "Riding the Rails" and it is excellent. I recommend it highly. It deals mainly with youth of the depression who are now grown and telling their story.

See this link for excerpts of the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOjQFyvqGTg

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Joe Urda
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Here's the Hobo Convention today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvphjCd0CeY&feature=related

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Train Granny
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Thanks to those of you who posted in answer to my curious question. My sister has always been an adventurous type (much more than me), and I didn't think it was strange for her to ask this question because we watched a video entitled "Riding the Rails" last night before bed. It's the same one mentioned in the post by Joe Urda above this post. I had ordered the video a few years back at the request of the high school teachers who were teaching The Great Depression. I liked it so much I ordered a personal copy. It is excellent. If you like trains, you will love it. If you like history, you will love it. While I totally agree that "hopping a train" in today's society is absolutely horrifying and very dangerous, I do think there was a time in our country when decent people who were down on their luck were forced to hop the train. Buy this video. You will not regret it!
Here's the link to the cheapest copy I have found:
http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Rails-C-R-Tiny-Boland/dp/6305053103

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Train Granny

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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mr williams
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Hi Granny, hello from England. We had a story in the media a few weeks ago where somebody tried jumping a ride between the loco and the first carriage on the overnight Berlin - Amsterdam train:

Stowaway found clinging to outside of train

A ticket inspector on a train racing through the sub-zero German countryside at night was astounded to find a stowaway clinging to the outside of a carriage on the more than nine-hour journey from Berlin to Amsterdam.

She immediately pulled the emergency brake and once the train had stopped, she and other train personnel pulled him into a carriage and gave him blankets, under which he fell asleep.

The man – a 26-year-old from the Netherlands told them he was desperate to visit his sick child but did not have enough money for a ticket on the EuroNight train early Tuesday morning.

The BZ newspaper said he had jumped on the running board between the locomotive and the train’s first passenger carriage at Berlin’s main train station and wedged himself into the space.

“The man put himself in acute danger. He was lucky that the railway employee saw him by chance,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesman told the paper.

The train had only been travelling for about half an hour, but in this week’s wintery conditions, with temperatures at minus seven C (19F) – before wind chill – he was already suffering the first signs of hypothermia.

He was taken off the train at the next stop – Hannover. “Because apart from travelling without a ticket, there was no crime, we took his details and let him go at about 2 a.m.,” the Bahn spokesman said.

Although he was directed to the station’s mission which helps homeless people, he was not seen again.

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smitty195
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I handled a call once where it came in as a train versus a pedestrian, but when I arrived on-scene I discovered it was two teenagers who had been trying to hop onto a slow moving UP freight (little did they know it was only going to Fremont--about 5 more minutes up the track). The first kid made it on, the second kid did not, and he slipped and the lower half of his body was spliced by the wheels. They were just kids messing around, and they obviously didn't know what they were doing because it was a short train and the engineer could see them in his side mirror. It was a very messy scene to arrive to--I wish I could purge some of these memories from my mind. But to answer TrainGranny's question, NO, please don't ever encourage anyone to do it. Not only is it illegal, but it is foolish and extremely dangerous.
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Henry Kisor
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What Smitty said. Even joking about hopping a train is stupid, stupid, stupid.
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Vincent206
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I never did, but one of my college room-mates did hop a freight for a ride to Seattle. There is a siding just south of Bellingham, next to the water, where freights are known to stop and wait for opposing trains. It's that siding that was known around town as a good place to wait for a free ride to Seattle. My room-mate's "trip report" was that the ride was cold, slow and the train only went as far as Everett. He never hopped another train.
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irish1
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yes it scares me to thimk of it now but growing up in escanaba mi there were plenty of slow moving iron ore trains and we hopped them all the time.

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The Copper Country Limited [Milwaukee Road-Soo Line] and the Peninsula 400 [CNW} still my favorites

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MontanaJim
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Hopping on a freight is considered trespassing, and railroad police could arrest anyone found doing it.
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Train Granny
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Thanks for your responses to my question! I have summed up all the responses from this forum and another and posted a summary on my blog! Hope you enjoy! I would love to have you "follow" the blog! That way, you will get an email whenever I post something new. Here's the link:
http://www.traingranny.com

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Train Granny

http://www.traingranny.com
http://www.facebook.com/traingranny

Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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Geoff Mayo
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I recall seeing a modern TV program about this subject and did actually show people riding the trains. But for the life of me I cannot recall where or when or what it was called.

There is also a video on YouTube (other video sharing sites are available) of a German man hanging on to the rear of a high speed train. I think he was videoing himself, and I also think he only had months to live (cancer?) so didn't really care if he didn't complete the journey. Shame he didn't care about the people left to pick up the pieces.

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Train Granny
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If you look on my blog post for today, I have a link to a documentary on riding the rails during the depression. That might be the one you are remembering.

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Train Granny

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Martha (Marty) Hale
Savannah, Georgia

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RR4me
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I did hop one train during my college years - train stopped outside our apt in San Luis Obispo, so one day a buddy and I climbed on and rode over the hill to Santa Margarita. This was on an empty flat car, and I will be the first to say it was kind of fun, because nothing bad happened, and incredibly stupid, because so much could have gone bad. Nowadays, just as stupid, and could get killed by gangs as well as the train. A better adventure was to go to our local beer joint on a sunny afternoon and pretend we had ridden in from out of town on a freight train. No danger there, and got a few beers bought for us.
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George Harris
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I did three times while young and stupid. Stupid is not normally curable, but for some a good slap upside the head can at least significantly reduce it. There were two relatively close together: 1. My last hop which ended by me bailing out into a ditch at a higher speed than I should and realizing that I was incredibly fortunate to be able to walk away with nothing but mud and bruises. 2. Not long after that event reading about a college student, which I was also at the time, whose body was found in a mangled condition on the ICRR main in southern Illinois.
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irishchieftain
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Aside from this being illegal and dangerous, the risk of running into members of the Freight Train Riders of America (a criminal gang) increases a great deal. Far less chance of meeting one or more of those murderers if one rides Amtrak.
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