StP's Ultimate Train Hopping Reference

Matt Derrick

Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Current Location
Walla Walla, WA
This page is a compilation of a lot of the train hopping information you'll find in our message board and elsewhere on the web for easier reference. Some of these links may require logging in with an StP account to view them.

Train Hopping How-2 Guides

There are a few guides gathered around the web, so here's a list to get you started.

The StP Guide to Train Hopping - This is our own home brewed guide to riding the rails, written by the site's founder, @Matt Derrick. You should consider this a surface-level guide to the basics that is mandatory reading before taking a deeper dive into how trains work. Just reading this won't make you an expert train hopper, but it is a useful guide for answering most basic questions folks will have.

u/PleaseCallMeTall's Guides - A excellent collection of posts and guides for train hopping from the r/Vagabond subreddit.

How to Hop a Freight Train by Wes Modes - One of the earliest guides to train hopping found on the web (originally published in 1994). Worth checking out for an alternative to the StP guide. The comments section has a lot of feedback you might find interesting.

Train Hopping Safety - A long-running StP thread discussing how to not get yourself killed riding the rails.

So you want to have a train hopping dog - A user-contributed guide to training your pup for the hobo lifestyle.

Rideable Intermodal Cars - A great thread with pictures describing what kinds of hotshot cars are ride-able and which ones are not.

Open Railway Map - An open source online railway map that is incredibly detailed and useful for planning rides.

Boarding and off-boarding a CTTX auto rack - a video by @quad8 explaining how to get in and out of CTTX auto racks.

How to Read Train Signals - This is a YouTube playlist of a series of videos explaining how to read train signals. It is highly recommended that you watch all of these videos so you understand when a train might be coming and other useful information for staying safe near railroad tracks.

Train Hopping Books

Hopping Freight Trains in America - by Duffy Littlejohn; Pretty much the encyclopedic reference for all things railroad and train hopping related. If you want to know more beyond the basics of how train hopping works, and how trains actually work, this is the best book available.

The StP Library - We have a train hopping category in our library filled with over 100 books, movies, zines, maps, and other materials related to train hopping. The railroad atlas is especially worth checking out.

Train Hopping Ethics, History, and Culture

Hobo History: Ethical Code - a great discussion on hobo history and ethics. You should read over this so you know how to not be an irresponsible shithead and ruin train hopping for everyone else.

More information will be added here soon. If you know of any useful resources that should be included here, please use the edit button below.
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