Train Riding
during the Depression Years

Rail Riding, Freight hopping or Train Hopping was the act of surreptitiously boarding and riding a railroad freight car.
In the 
United States, this became a common means of transportation following the American Civil War as the railroads began pushing westward,
especially among 
migrant workers who became known as "hobos". It continued to be widely used by those unable to afford
other transportation, especially during times of widespread economic dislocation such as the 
Great Depression.  Persons of all ages could be found
among the hobo train riders - even young children.

You can find  various documentaries on line about the Rail Riding Teenagers on videos like this

Below are various reported cases of Rail-riding by members of the Yancey Family

Irvin Yancey (1922-2007)

Irvin Yancy left his family and set out on his own
about the age of 8. By the age of twelve or so he
was traveling the country by train as a hobo.  
His autobiography is appropriately entitled
"Yancey the Youngest Hobo"
if you wish to order a copy of Irvin Yanceys book click here 

A portion of his experiences riding the coal trains follows:




A newspaper account above of a Negro boy killed riding the trains 

train 3213

trains 3214
A quite interesting account above of one  Lady Hobo named Dolly Kennedy Yancey - known as the "Woman Tramp"


Its also rather shocking to find out the number of train related deaths that occured during this era
as supported by the info on this page: 
some of it rather gruesome.