Freighthopping or train hopping is the act of surreptitiously a on a
railroadfreight car. In the United States of America, this became a common means of transportation following the American Civil Waras 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. Today, the practice is forbidden by statute in nearly all states.
In modern day usage, though not very common, hopping a freight train is also known as "catching out" or "hopping out."
Many railroads take a strict view of people hopping freight trains, and employ
railroad police, also known as "bulls", in an attempt to prevent the practice. Among other duties, railroad police are charged with preventing trespassingon railroad property, which includes freighthopping. Railroad police officers typically patrol in utility trucks, SUVs ("bullmobiles"), or even standard police cruisers. Railroad police are certified police officers and enforce the appropriate laws in any jurisdiction the railroad owns property.
Decline of freighthopping
In recent decades, the traditional role of hobos as itinerant workers has fallen off, largely because of increasing prosperity. Most itinerant workers in modern times have automobiles and drive between jobs, alternatively they may use
public transportation, and live in many types of temporary housing.
Increasingly, as seasonal agricultural work became the province of
illegal immigrants, and other seasonal work became increasingly lucrative, freighthopping became mainly used by the homeless population, by thrill seekers, anarchistswho have adopted the lifestyle as an expression of a revolutionary lifestyle, and people who enjoy traveling across the countryside under the open air.
Another reason the practice is declining is because the nature of the way goods are being transported, with the traditional boxcar giving way to more secure plug door cars. The modern
intermodal freight transporttrend towards increasing containerizationis increasingly unusable to train riders.
Even flatcars are becoming increasingly open, making life harder for Freighthoppers.
Emperor of the North Pole, a movie about freighthopping starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Keith Carradine.
*"King of the Road"
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