during the Depression Years
Riding, Freight hopping or
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)
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: