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Photograph, b/w Usually located just outside of town near running water and close to the tracks the hobo camp or jungle served as a gathering place and information center. New travelers passing through contributed what they could: wood for the fire or food for the pot. The campfire was a forum for swapping stories, jokes, and poetry. A code of ethics was enforced and crimes such as wasting food, leaving dirty utensils and destroying equipment were punished by expulsion from the camp. Due to smoke and soot from the trains dirt was an occupation hazard for hoboes and most took great care to bathe and wash their clothes. In this image the washing is hung on a line and the washboard and tubs are seen near the water. By the end of the 19th century there were almost 200,000 miles of track in the United States. Mobility, and the lure of travel attracted thousands of restless Americans. One early hobo described the railroad’s attraction: “A train is a thing compounded of magic and beauty…the rattle and swank of a long freight pulling out of the yards, the locomotive, black and eager, shoving her snorting muzzle along the rails…is a spectacle and a challenge which only the wanderer who loves train riding can understand.” (from: Knights of the Road: A Hobo History by Roger A. Bruns, ISBN 0-416-00721-X, 1980, p.6) There were two distinct classes of these wanderers: the hobo was a migratory worker; the tramp was a migratory non-worker. While the tramp had an absolute aversion to work, the hoboes were the ‘working class’ of the road. They labored in oil fields, logging camps, cattle ranches, construction sites, canneries, and harvest fields. Transportation--A Student's Historical Explanation; Studying the Great Depression through novels 16 History; 15 Economics
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library|
|United States--Social conditions|
United States--Economic conditions
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