Knights of the Rails
The American Hobo
The origin of the word Hobo is unknown. But two possibilities are from homeward bound, or from "Hoe Boy," a farmhand traveling in search or work. Largely forgotten today, there was once a clear distinction between hoboes, tramps, and bums. Hoboes were mostly respectable men (and a few women) searching for work. Tramps traveled, but were averse to work in any form, one place, such as on inner city skid rows. Although found together, hoboes considered themselves distinct from and superior to tramps and bums.
Hoboes had their own lingo with terms like mulligan stew, riding the rods, and flophouse, as well as a system of marks indicating where work or handouts could be found. The presence of vicious dogs or where a man could flop for the night they gathered in hobo jungles found near every rail yard, including Barstow. Considered romantic by some, the life of a hobo was
The demise of the hobo came in the years before WW II. The Great Depression resulted in more people on the move in search of work, but they now tended to travel by automobile. Faster trains were harder to hop, and defense jobs greatly diminished the number of itinerant workers.
During their heyday hoboes built the railroads as well as rode on them, harvested grain, fruit, and vegetables, and constructed roads, bridges, and dams. Even as they labored, they were reviled and persecuted as tramps and vagrants. Nonetheless, their contribution to the building of America cannot be denied, and their history and heritage lives on.
Erected 2017 by Billy Holcomb Chapter #1069 of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus and Harvey House, and City of Barstow.
Marker series. This marker is included in the E Clampus Vitus marker series.
Location. 34° 54.282′ N, 117° 1.444′ W. Marker is in Barstow, California, in San Bernardino
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Barstow Harvey House (within shouting distance of this marker); General Beale Uses Camels (approx. 0.4 miles away); Calico Mountain Mines (approx. 0.4 miles away); Christiansen Memorial Plaza (approx. 0.4 miles away); Waterman Junction Becomes Barstow 1886 (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Harvey House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mojave Runners (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Mormon Trail (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Barstow.
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 10, 2018, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 53 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 10, 2018, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.