American travel photographer, Mike Brodie, hopped trains for 5 years from ages 17-22. While parts of this lifestyle seem really thrilling and interesting, these photos really hammer home why I would never, ever do it. He captured a lot of his journey in these photos below.
1. Riders will go to a rail yard and find a spot to hide while they wait for the train they want to ride.
2. It is by no means an easy life.
3. Riders have to know which tracks go where.
4. Here is a couple getting a little bit of rest in old sleeping bags.
5. Most riders have to jump on the train while it is moving. This is known as “catching on the fly.”
6. They share resources.
7. Riders occasionally will wait at “side outs”. These are places where there are two parallel tracks and the trains pull aside for others to pass.
8. Bathing isn’t something they are able to do often.
9. Here are some riders looking for places to go.
10. This girl is making her way through a car filled with liquid.
11. This is a bold move. Many have lost their lives doing this type of thing.
12. Being able to wash their clothes is a luxury many do not have.
13. Riders do get to see beautiful parts of America.
14. This rider is scoping out trains.
15. Increasing security has also presented a problem for train hoppers, though the establishment of legal protection for vagrants has led to a decline in the beating and maltreatment for which ‘bulls’ (railway security men) and brakemen became infamous.
16. One rider giving a fellow rider a boost.
17. This girl is leaving her mark.
18. Trying to stay warm.
19. Part of the reason riding is considered dangerous is due to the large percent of ex-cons that are riders. Violence is common among the transient riders.
20. There are websites dedicated to helping people learn how to becomes riders with tips and tricks of the trade.
21. Climbing to the top.
22. Running to make the train.
23. Riders exploring the places they go.
24. There are even some books that have been published about train hopping. They are pretty interesting.
More info: Mike Brodie
In America, it was common for migrant workers to use this form of transportation. They later came to be known as hobos. The practice is far less common than it once was. These days there remains a small tight-knit community of homeless freight train riders.