I need more of this! (1 Viewer) Video 

Apr 23, 2020
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Reno, Nevada
Hey STP fam,
I have been lurking around a bit, and really like the community I have found here.... so felt like now is probably the time to introduce myself and go "all in". The handle is Mac, but the name is "Coondog". I'm a life long adrenaline and travel junkie and just recently learned of train hopping (which really pisses me off considering the years I have lost). Unlike many of you here, I was not fortunate enough to be raised around trains, so it isn't until very recently, when I am getting to be an old ass dude, that I am learning all there is to learn about traveling by freight. I am also running from nothing really, except my own boredom with the daily "hum-drum" of middle class life. No one abuses me and I'm not on smack but I do live in a fantasized world where the whole fucking thing is my playground! In reality, due to my career choice, all I am is a guy who realizes that life can end to quickly, in a motherf*king instance really, and I am on a direct course to maximize my life's experiences before the opportunity is over. I have immense respect for those who ride the rails be it for work or pleasure, and I am whole hardly embracing the general HOBO code of not fucking with the RR equipment in any way, ever, so as to not bring anymore attention to our activities than is already focused. So with that being said, I will proceed with my tale.....

After spending lots of time down near my local yard just watching trains, seeing where they stop, how they leave, scoping out catch out spots etc., I finally made the leap.
On a recent Saturday night, at about 1030p I was dropped off near the yard. I made "camp" in a ditch just E. of the yard, as I was planning on catching an EBD sometime during the next 12 hours. With my position camouflaged and secured, I watched and waited. Some UP vehicle, either the bull or the crew van, made multiple passes near my position, nerve wracking as hell, but I stayed put and wasn't seen.
After a few hours of no trains, finally an EBD was apparently being built and moving on the tracks in front of me. After a few back and fourths, and thinking it was leaving, I ran out to the tracks, pack on & geared up and tried to find a rideable car, but couldn't. Hard to see in the dark , trying to avoid any security that I didn't already know was there, and basically my own inexperience and not knowing WTF I was doing, I started getting super frustrated. I went back to the ditch, and lying there, now it's around 2 am & getting a bit colder, I am starting to have my doubts. "Maybe I should go home, forget about it, train hopping, stupidest f'king idea ever", blah blah blah. And then I thought, "no, I'm only about 80 miles away from the Keddie Wye, maybe I'll just hitch up there and catch the BNSF up north" . Just feeling rather defeated, and having no history to rely upon, but wanting to catch my first one so bad, being geared up and ready to go there was no way I could quit now. The same EBD had now switched to a set of rails behind another long engineless string between us, and the lead unit pulled just out of the yard, about 100 yards W of my position. It was stopped, but it looked like it was gearing up to go, so I decided to walk around the string and hang out closer to the yard and the idling EBD. This made me hella nervous as I was; 1. Closer to the yard and it's cameras, 2. I had to walk past the front of the engine with those bright fucking lights blazing down on me unknowing if the engineer was aware of my presence, and 3. the yard worker whom I earlier asked "when does the EBD leave" and who told me "don't you get on it", was still hanging around. But with limited options that I was aware of, 'member, i'm pretty f'ing clueless right about now, I walk down the train to an overpass hideout spot and wait. After just a few minutes it started to roll, I was furiously scanning the cars to find one that could be rideable. I see lots of grainers, and a shit ton of tankers and then a gondola. I have no idea if it's loaded or not, but I make a break for it in the shadows, hit the ladder and basically throw myself over the wall. "Holy shit, i'm on" I think, as it is creeping up the track. Scarred as fuck, I try to sit as still as I can and not make a sound. Amazing how eerily quiet a train yard can be when the train itself stops!

And then it stops. Did they see me? is this it, my first f'king time and i'm going to get arrested? My head is kinda spinning but there isn't a damn thing I want to do, so I just sit there listening for cars or footsteps. After 10 minutes, neither. And then the slack, "BOOM", and we start to roll. We pick up speed, and from what I can see over the wall from the cars floor, I can tell we are out of the yard.
I watch the stars, so bright in the sky, and those that shoot to and fro as the train cuts through the desert night. I see the lights in the homes and laugh to myself at the worlds oblivion to my personal triumph. As the sun starts to rise along with my comfort level, I get a little braver. I eat some, read some, try to sleep, try to plot myself on the atlas....I still don't know exactly where I'm headed.....the plan was Salt Lake City. I'm having fun watching the scenery, ducking from the foamers, railfans and other looky-loo's who may report me. We stopped at a few sidings, one for the Amtrak and then another for a hot shot.

Around noon, the train rolled into Elko Nevada, and stopped, for awhile, and shit got real quiet!, so I sat there, real quiet. And before long, here come the footsteps, its a very unique sound , that of basalt rock under boot. And then, UNBELIEVABLY, of all the cars in this mile long string, someone has to be working on my gondola car. What are the chances??? But i sit still and don't move, not a peep, and then he's gone.....ONLY TO APPEAR AT THE OTHER END OF THE CAR!!!. More wrenching or whatever the hell they were doing ( come to find out they were disconnecting the sunofabitch), and by the time I realized, they car I'm sitting in has been disconnected and the DPU with the rest of the forward cars are now 100 yards up the track! Well Shit! Now what?
So i stay calm, pull out the scanner and try to listen in and find out anything. I can't hear shit! It's crackle this, mummble mumble that, useless. But still i'm cool (figuratively), minus the midday sun and complete exposure in a boxcar with zero shade and not nearly enough water as I sit there contemplating my options. While we truly are in BFE, I can see a highway about 200-300 yards to the north and reassure myself if need be, I could walk to the hwy and try to catch a ride, so no need to panick.

At least not until the yard worker stands up on my car and pops himself over the rail, about chest high. Are you f'ing kidding me??? "Hey man, what's going on " I say, even before I'm really sure he has seen me ( or processed the rider in front of him) . "HOLY SHIT, YOU SCARRED THE SHIT OUTTA ME" he replies. "well, ya sorry, I was hoping not to see you either", was all I could come up with at that moment, i mean really, WTF else are you going to say? LOL

Long story short(er), he tells me it's cool , he won't report me, but that I obviously need to get outta this car and find another string on the yard that would be leaving at some point because that one wasn't going anywhere. As directed I quickly grabbed my shit, scurried over the loaded gondola material, up and over the wall and back on to the rocks. He pointed me in the right direction before cautioning me to "get the fuck out here quick cause my boss is coming up any minute". "Well, fuck ya, yes sir, ain't gotta tell me twice" I think and I make a bee line across 4 sets of rails to the next string. Up and over to the otherside and I am now "panic jogging" along this string looking for something rideable, but with no cover for what seems like a mile both ways, anyone who were to hit the frontage road would have seen me. So when I see the first gondola, i'm in that one like a flash. It's empty and I settle in and wait.

A quick 15 minutes and were off again, woot-woot! A little more desert landscape and then we head over the great salt lake, but weirdly, not in the spot I thought we would cross. The ride is amazing, the views, just incredible, but we are definitely heading more northerly than SLC. Once off the water, we enter into civilization. My caution alert goes up and again its the "peek out to see where you are but don't get seen" game we all must play once in the city. So, as we get closer to the yard, I know this as I can see the emerging flood lights that illuminate the place, I have another "first" occurrence of this trip. I had been thinking long and hard about how to "catch out", how to get on a train that I hadn't given much thought to how to get off a train! Hmmmm, well it's not rocket science I think, I have made other "action exits", just wait till it slows enough and....."well ya, but that was never with a pack ( that I didn't want to throw first as I was unsure of.....anything) and the threat of getting arrested or ran over by another train or silent "boxcar killer"! So after i think it slows to around 7-8 mph, which from up on the cheese grater still looks fast, I crawl down the ladder to the last rung. Holding my best "crouching tiger hidden dragon" position , I wait for my chance, pucker up tight and pop off, shooting myself away from the train on the run. All is well, works out good, never left my feet.......

Made it safely out of the OGDEN UTAH yard, found my bearings and enjoyed the days that followed.....

But now i'm hooked, train hopping has got me by the throat and is demanding more of me. The rush and excitement was like nothing I have felt before, literally like a drug I want more of! I plan to explore the whole west coast/ PNW before venturing much further east .

If anyone cares to offer advice, tips to not die, suggestion on how to be more stealthy, or anything else that might help, you have my full appreciation. Live free, ride hard folks!

Thanks for reading, Coondog out.


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Make America Freight Again
Staff member
Dec 12, 2014
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Classic story, man. I had the same experience my first (and last) time into Ogden. Had to jump out of a boxcar in front of a whole set of workers, and dip into the shopping center beyond. Terrifying, but also enloghtenting.

Good luck out there, and keep riding! I feel we need more cautious people out there, and less with the 'I dont give a fuck' mentality.

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