A week prior to this trip, I had already been desert bound from Adelaide with my dearest friend, Emilie. Taking the highway route up, counting all the dead and burnt kangaroo roadkill… I stopped counting at 87. That trip, that week, I got a call from my Dad in the states, with the news that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to vomit, to scream. It felt fitting to feel so lost, to feel so out of control in a place in the world that doesn’t surrender to human nature, a place that keeps moving and changing at its own will. Yet in the car, it felt safe, it felt trapped.
I arrived at Norfolk Southern's Harris yard just before 9 pm to watch my train to Atlanta finish being built and hopefully find a sweet, cozy ride! I estimated that it would take about 20-24 hours til we arrived in the land of prissy housies, cracked out home bums, and Coca-Cola (these are pretty much the only things I've ever experienced in Atlanta). My buddy dropped me at the yard and I scampered in to the shadows by some semi trailers, waited, and watched.
Riding Canadian National on the former Illinois Central line from Metairie Yard in New Orleans to Markham Yard in Chicago. In terms of weather, this was one of the more bizarre trips I've taken. The warm temperatures of early spring in the deep south gave me a false sense of security that slowly morphed into a growing sense of regression as I rolled into the bleak scenery and freezing temperatures of Illinois.
I wasn’t particularly confident I was going to be able to catch the train I was after. Or really, even the nightly fleet of north and westbounds I was waiting for. I wasn’t too fussed on where I was headed. Just knew that I was headed. The general consensus was that the best way to grab a train was on the fly at the throat. I shunned my body for being clumsy and not as strong as I’d like it to be, and also that the sport I love so much has the capacity to involve so much physical risk and can become a strenuously mental game when waiting on luck and patience to study and infiltrate a train yard.
On September 28, 2018 I set out on my biggest and longest endeavor to date: 2 months on the road, across the country and back, hitting the four geographical corners of the USA - Philadelphia, Miami, Slab City, and Seattle, and everywhere in between. The trip started out in Philadelphia. @siid and I met up for the first time and were kicking back and talking shit and getting ready to hop out on the UPS/juice train in the morning.
As I was walking down from El Centro after being dropped off there the night before by Frank who swore he saw me with my friend Forrest hitchhiking at the i-8 on-ramp next to the In-n-Out three years ago, I get picked up by a lovely woman that drives me into Mexicali, feeds me amazing tacos and drops me off where the train should depart. The night before I talked to a guy who years ago worked for Ferromex in Mexicali and told me that my train should leave around noon.
This is a story about 2 train hoppin’ ladies taking on the Florida Panhandle and one of em finally catching the ride she’d been after for so long. Caro had been having dreams of the South... diners and humidity and casual racism. I reckoned, what better opportunity than to visit me in Miami and we do some southern style train ridin'? And so it went. As any great trip begins, we met up with croc's partner for a bit and played some parking lot soda can hockey before heading to the hop out.
So Croc and I just finished up a week and a half on the road together! Being located in Florida and all, the first logical thing for us to do was to ride FEC up the coast, the famous midnight coastal express shipping up with the Tropicana cars. Starting point: Ft. Pierce. It was about 10:30pm on a Thursday. We ran up and down the impending northbound, full of piggies and juice cars. Finally settled on the only rideable clean face well on the whole train. After sitting in the yard for an hour or so, we heard the brakes and we slowly crawled out of the yard.
Here are some pictures from my time riding the Alaska Railroad between the 13th and 24th of August, 2017. All photos were shot on my iPhone 5s and Fujifilm FinePix S1800. This was probably the most overstaffed and over patrolled railroad I've ever ridden. However, while the patrols certainly were annoying, the biggest problem was the lack of suitable rides.
I pulled my pack out of the back and slammed the door shut. The white Nissan slowly wheeled away around the bend and out of sight, and I was now officially alone. I promptly made my way through a hole in the fence, through the trees and out into the clear to reveal the glorious three track mainline on the outskirts of Inman Yard in Atlanta. The beginning of an incredible journey. I looked up and down the tracks, listening for even the slightest rumble of a train from either direction. I heard nothing, but nonetheless decided to make my way to the hopout. I sat in the humid summer heat for only a few hours before an autorack headed for Detroit pulled up right next to me. I was really itching to ride something, but I didn't want to mess with breaking into an autorack car. The only rideable option then was the head engine, and in the mid afternoon sunlight I scurried up that S.O.B and yanked on the handle. It was open. My heart skipped a beat as I darted inside and closed the door as...
Some of you who know me know I am big on 'Quality Jungles'. The truth is, today they are virtually non-existent.This is due to several things. I'll get to that in a moment. Why jungles? Because Hoboes and tramps need a place to stop, rest up, clean up, feed up, wash and repair clothes and gear, and hopefully a place to socialize, trade, and share what one knows about the lines and general conditions. Sounds great right? Jungles have been in existence since right after the civil war. They used to be called 'hangouts' up until the latter part of the 19'th century. They were also relatively safe. There was an order of things, and the number of riders required order and safety.
An intrepid photographer hitches a ride through the Sahara Desert on one of the world's longest trains - with her surfboard in tow. The stunning photos were taken in Mauritania during a two month expedition at the tail-end of 2015 by professional photographer Jody MacDonald. The 39-year-old rode across the Sahara - which takes up an astonishing 90 per cent of the country - in open-top carriages full of iron ore alongside other train hoppers.
The first time Swampy hopped a freight train, he was 18. He was traveling north of his native California when he ran into a train-hopping friend in Portland, Oregon, who suggested they hitch a ride back down south. He was broke, so the idea was appealing. “It was pouring, and we were hiding under the bridge from the rain, and this train was rolling through, and it wasn’t stopping. My friend told me, ‘You know, this train’s not gonna stop. We have to catch it on the fly as it’s rolling."
Autumn, 2006 Jack London Inn - Oakland California. I'm awoken from my sleep before the sun has risen, the conductor and I catch an easy one today. Our eastbound double stacked intermodal train is pulled out to Emeryville, air tested and ready to go. Cal-P route, we make great time. I've brought my train to a stop just short of the red signal at Atkinson, Roseville.
The train: The only link for many locals between the coast and the desert, Mauritania’s famous iron ore transporter may be the longest train in the world. I learned about it from a Michael Palin documentary, and subsequent research showed me that, for all the blank mystery of Mauritania, the train is one thing that still brings in curious tourists.ome of the real beauty of Mauritania.
This is from back in June. Had a hella nice time; was itching to see a little more of the Overland in the summer after getting off in Ogden last winter. My best friend decided to come along at the last minute, then we rescued a really cool kid from a really awful oogle in Roseville. Pictures from in and around Dunsmuir! Mossy and I got out of PDX wee hours of the morning, woke up to getting thunderously sorted in Eugene. Spent the day drinking tea downtown, then caught the evening Roseville GM. Sun came up just south of Cali border, then crew died near Black Butte so we climbed around and took pictures.
Eric St. Pierre may not have been an obvious candidate for the hobo life. Growing up in Windsor, Ont., he spent every waking minute outside of high school online, playing World of Warcraft or scrolling through message boards. Then he came across an Internet forum thread about vagabonds. Intrigued, he clicked through and found Squat the Planet, an online community filled with tips on how to safely train hop, hitch rides or sleep outdoors. His old dream of travelling across Canada came roaring back.
Yesterday two friends of East Jesus stopped by to visit. As they pulled up, I noticed they had some kind of strange device attached to the top of their car. It turned out to be what they called a Rail Rider, basically a self-built go kart specially designed to run on abandoned railroad tracks. I've seen a few of these vehicles online, but they were all pedal powered. This one was powered by a Honda motor, and boasted speeds of up to 30 mph.
They’re trading their flip phones for iPhones, starting Instagram accounts, browsing r/vagabond, and bringing an age-old tradition of trainhopping and tramping into the Information Age. Take traveling photographer Molly Steele, who was recently part of a group of hobos taken into custody onboard a freight train near El Dorado, Kansas.
I was sitting on the side of a mountain — actually more of a volcano — in the western highlands of Guatemala, pointing a camera at stuff and climbing when a foreigner came into sight. Traveling with a troupe of Kaqchikel pilgrims, but sporting a shockingly white shaved head, backpack and cargo pants, he definitely stood out. I must have too because he walked over and introduced himself.
Some people might not agree with having dogs on train but let’s face it, it going to happen. Dogs are well suited to railroad lifestyle and make great traveling companions. If you train your dog well, love them, and feed them good then your dog will follow you off of a cliff if you jumped. They are loyal and loving companions. When the road gets lonely and cold, they will cuddle you and keep you warm. When somebody sneaks up on your camp at night, your dog will warn you. When walking through a sketchy neighborhood you don’t know, your dog will, a lot of times, ward off people who may be looking to harm you. Some people may not agree with some of the techniques below, but that is how I have raised my own cur and have helped with the training of a few other railroad pups out there.
When Ted Conover train-hopped with his son, he found things had changed since he was 22. "The prospect of Asa getting injured had been haunting me the whole trip." It felt like finally teaching my son to hunt. But instead of wilderness, our game preserve was the industrial zones northwest of downtown Denver. And instead of the ducks my grandpa used to shoot in Minnesota, our quarry was freight trains.
Hello everyone, welcome to Squat the Planet's guide to riding freight trains. This guide is intended to teach you about the harsh realities and techniques involved in catching a free ride via the world's locomotive transit system. I personally prefer 'education over abstinence' when it comes to these kinds of things, so it's my intention to teach you the basics of traveling via the rail system while staying safe and not ruining it for everyone else.
Last week I rode my first train in over a year (and almost four years before that previous one). It’s not something I do very much anymore, but it was a convenient way to get down the west coast to Oakland, where I hope to be working on some interesting projects for StP in the near future. Well, it turned out not to be all that convenient really, as we got rained out nearly every day we waited for a train in the northwest, and even managed to get a 48-hour flu in the process, but we did eventually make it out by hopping a train out of Eugene.