Rail cars that hoboes ride.

“BOXCARS”

Boxcars are my favorite rides on freight trains.  Boxcars haul almost anything and everything.  From frozen orange juice to bagged concrete; the boxcar hauls it all.

Inside my boxcar from Kansas City  Me, inside the doorway of my boxcar when the outside temperature was 10 degrees below zero!

Boxcar in Shreveport KCS Yards This is the boxcar I rode from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Kansas City, Missouri.

Getting my boxcar open Me here trying to open my boxcar door a bit more before hopping up inside.  (Shreveport, Louisiana).

boxcar rides This boxcar rode fairly good.  I rode inside here from Clinton, Iowa, to Peoria, Illinois.  (Notice my seat inside)?  I was able to load this chair inside when we stopped to let another train pass.  Some boxcar “hunt” really bad on the tracks.  Hunting is caused by empty cars that sway back and forth on the tracks;  jarring you in every way!   By riding in an insulated boxcar, you lessen the chance of hunting because these boxcars are heavier, thus the hunting is not as bad.

Boxcar ride in Louisiana Me, inside my boxcar riding in Texas.

“CAR CARRIERS” a.k.a. “AUTO-RACKS”

Car carriers can be ridden if you know what you are doing.  When these rail cars are loaded with new vehicles, they are locked with thick shank-seals, thus getting inside these rail cars is next to impossible, but can be done.  Once you’re inside, each vehicle has its key in the ignition.  It makes for a great ride with the stereo and the heat or air conditioning blasting!  Mostly though, I only ride when these rail cars are empty.  They make for a really nice ride being that they are difficult to get into, thus the bull never thinks there will be anybody inside and avoids checking!

Auto rack car carrier trains This here is an auto-rack rail car, also.  Each end of this rail car has two large doors that swing open if you can make the right make-shift chuck-&-key to get in, that is!

Car carrier trains/rail cars This also is an “Auto-Rack” train.

Inside the  This is what it looks like to ride inside an empty “auto-rack” rail car!  (There are no vehicles loaded inside this rail car, so I had all this room to walk about).

 "Chuck-and-key" by you. (Homemade Chuck-&-key).  This is a railroad plate with spike poked through the square hole in the plate.  Now, you take the square spike and place it into the square hole of the car carrier door and turn counter clockwise and voila, your auto-rack door opens, then you can load up inside and ride in style!

“COIL CARS”

Coilcar in Texas. This is a “coil car” I rode behind from Beaumont, Texas, to Shreveport, Louisiana, while riding “KCS”.   Kansas City Southern a.k.a. KCS, now hauls many coil cars to Kansas City and points north from old Mexico, thus you can determine the direction of your train when you’re in Shreveport’s Caddo Yards in Louisiana.

Coil cars are used to transport rolls of steel.  Various types of wire also are hauled in roll-form with the coil car.  The steel rolls are manufactured mostly for the automobile industries.

DSCF0015 by boxcar66 This coil car is hauling steel rolls, as are the uncovered coil cars in front.

Coil cars are made weather-proof, since steel becomes quickly vulnerable to oxidation, once it leaves from where it’s manufactured.

DSCF0011 by boxcar66 This is an open-ended, or uncovered coil car. 

These rolls are unprotected here. Certain steel manufacturers requirements are less stringent, since the steel will be recast again, depending on the product being manufactured.

 

The below link is of a train hauling nothing but “coil cars”!

(Please enjoy)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncMR0bgXPSE

“CABOOSES”

Cabooses were used on trains back in the days when siding and yard switches were turned by hand.  For instance, if the train pulled out onto the mainline from a spur track or a siding; the trainman in the caboose would get off and switch the track back to the original alignment from the rear of the train, thus avoiding having to back the train up to where the switch could be turned by an engineer or brakeman on the head end.  Now that computer operated switching exists out on the mainline, trains no longer need a caboose.  Trains now have what’s called an “EOT” on the very last rail car of the train.  “EOT” stands for End Of Train device, and most railroad employees call it this.  Hoboes call the end of train device a “Fred”.  The Freddy stands for, Federal Rear End Device, or “Flashing Rear End Device.  Either way, it’s a rectangular shaped box-like device that hooks to the trains air hose and reads the trains air pressure that is used to operate the brakes.  If the air pressure drops for any reason, the device will send an emergency alert signal to the train crew in the lead locomotive unit, then the matter is investigated.

EOT deviseThis is the rear end device, or (EOT).  Also known as the Fred, or (Flashing Rear End Device).

Cabooses usually have one or two beds, one restroom, an oil stove/heater and an electrical system provided by an alternator.  The top of the caboose also usually has an area called the Cupola.  The cupola area is where the train being pulled in front of the caboose can be seen from a higher vantage point.  The caboose has an electrical system that gets its electricity from an alternator.  The alternator generates electricity from the cabooses own wheels that are attached to the alternator by belts.  When the caboose is in motion you have electrical current that is being generated, thus you have power for the equipment inside the caboose.  Although cabooses are almost never used anymore, they still may be seen sometimes being pulled on local area runs that require frequent manual switching that can’t be achieved by a computer operated switch.  Cabooses still exist in many rail yards across North America and are terrific for sleeping in and getting in out of the foul weather.  If you are lucky, you may find an unlocked caboose that you can sleep in.  If not, you need to acquire yourself a universal railroad key.   These are a few photos of cabooses that I have rode and slept inside.

Caboose This caboose is now owned by “BNSF” Rail.  A very good view of the cupola here.  (I slept in this caboose the night before I took this photo).  This also is the very same caboose as the one down after the next.

Cupola area of caboose

Cupola area of caboose above.  This caboose is an old “Western Maryland” Railroad caboose.  Hoboes refer to cabooses as “Crummies” also.

 Cabooses This is me in the rear area of the caboose I slept inside about two years ago.

Caboose alternator, belt & wheels This here is the alternator, belts and pulley system where electrical current is generated for the cabooses consumption.

Caboose/cupola This is a caboose without a cupola.  The area in the mid-section of this caboose that bulges outward was used to keep an eye out on the train being pulled ahead of the caboose as like with the cupola.

Cabooses This again is a caboose without a cupola.  This unit is owned by the “CSX” railroad company.  (Chessie Seaboard System Railroad).

“GRAINERS” a.k.a. “HOPPERS”

Grainer’s are my second favorite rail-car to ride.  They come in several models as well.  This grainer below is what hoboes call a Cadillac grainer.  Reason being is there is a steel lip that rises up all around the floor of the rail car where you ride and thus you are hid a lot better from the all-seeing-eyes!  (Notice the raised edge around the base of this Cadillac grainer below)?

Grainer rides

Grain hopper This was a grain hopper I rode on from Vancouver, BC to Calgary, Alberta Canada.  I’m almost entering the tunnel at the Alberta/BC border.

Grainer rides Here I’m riding on a Cadillac grainer.  (Notice the other train passing me in the siding next to me)?  You have an area that measures roughly eight feet by four feet to ride on.  Also there is enough room where you may roll out your bedroll and sleep comfortably.

Grainer rides I’m riding inside of the end-hole area of a covered hopper here.  You have roughly an area four feet by eight feet to ride here as well, but there are three separate sections where each are only four feet by three feet in length.  Also you are nearly hermetically sealed all around!  This is a tight fit as you can see here!  (Notice the white chemical residue in the other section)?  Also the circular hole you see here is the exact size of the hole you must squeeze through in order to get where I’m at resting here!

Grain hoppers This here also is a grainer rail car.  They can be used to haul anything from feed corn to shingle grit-sand used on roofing shingles!

Grain hoppers This here is what we hoboes call a “Bottomless” grainer.  It has no covered floor to ride on!  Although you can ride this type grainer, you had better stay awake if you want to get to your destination in one piece!

Liberty, Missouri area. This is me next to what we hoboes call a “double barrel shotgun grainer” because of the double holes on each end and its barrel shape.  You have to squeeze into this small hole to my right!  Once inside, you have lots of room to move about while out-of-sight, out-of-mind!

Found carpet! This is me inside the small hole once inside.  You can now see how roomy it is once inside.  (Roughly five foot long by three foot wide and perhaps four foot high interior).

My favorite kind of grainer!!! This is my absolute favorite hopper/grainer to ride!  (C-6 class-style hopper).  These mostly are used to haul plastics from refineries to plastics manufacturers.

“GONDOLAS”

Gondola cars are open topped rectangular rail cars used to haul various goods.  Most haul scrap metal, but a few others may haul steel beams, metal & concrete culverts, rebar and even the occasional railroad track rails with ties still intact.  You can ride in these gondola rail cars, but they sure are windy to ride!  Trash, fodder and debris blows relentlessly no matter what the speed of the train!  You might as well bring a pair of goggles with you when you plan on riding a gondola!

Gondola pair This is the usual condition of gondolas as they are used and abused to the fullest!  This gondola was once owned by “New York Central” railroad company.

__hr_GON by daeganlife You are riding with a hobo here!

Gondola rail cars This gondola is being used to haul rolls of steel wire.  This steel wire is sometimes loaded in the gondola while it’s still hot!  This makes for a nice, warm ride on a cold winter’s night!

“HOT-SHOTS” & “DOUBLE-STACKS”

Hot shots are priority trains.  These type trains will get you where you need to go fast!  The bad thing is; you are being watched by the railroad police (bull) all the time.  Riding a hot shot can be done, it just takes hiding good and keeping out of sight so you won’t get caught and thrown off railroad property for trespassing or even worse; thrown in jail!

Railroad bull searching for illegal activity The railroad policeman here is checking seals on container doors making sure no break-ins have occurred.

Each end of the containers have an area where you can ride.  The problem is finding the right rail car that has enough space to get down in and hide.  The T-125-48’ers here are good rides, but finding enough space to ride is hard.  You must ride at night to evade capture on a hot shot, although I have ridden many, many times without any problems during the daylight hours.  It depends a lot where you are also.  If you’re in a high-crime area, it’s likely you’re going to get caught there than out in the middle of the desert.

Hot shots Union Pacific T-125-48 hot shot.

Trailer train hot shot On each end of these stacked containers you can ride down in the rail car itself.

“LOCOMOTIVE UNITS”

Locomotive units can be ridden as well.  Each unit has its very own electric heating system, airconditioning, refrigerator with bottled water and even a restroom with a toilet much like on a Greyhound bus.  Sometimes the train crew will be nice enough and let you ride inside the cab of the rear, trailing locomotive units.  Most all have a radio so you can hear what is going on around you.  There is enough room that you can roll out your bed roll on the floor of the cab and sleep comfortably.  Also there usually are three to four adjustable seats in the locomotive cab. 

 Me boarding in Alexandria, LA Me climbing aboard a unit in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Trains that transport goods long-haul travel while trailing other locomotives behind one another for added power, thus if you are experiencing cold weather, you can ride in the cab of the locomotive that is in rear trailing position three to four units back from the lead unit, (or how ever many units are trailing behind). 

The SD stands for “Super Diesel”, and the 80MAC is its series make/model. They are roughly 5,350 horse-power.  There are many, many types, makes and models of locomotives throughout the railroad industry.

Locomotive rides This is a photo I took from the nose of a locomotive.  I’m riding a “pusher” locomotive unit here from North Platte, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  (I have the door open while snapping this photo).

Unit ride on KCSMe inside of KCS’s locomotive.

“LUMBER CARS & FLAT CARS”

Lumber and flat cars can be rode, but at a price.  Although you can easily board one of these type rail cars, they are right out in the open and in the public eye!

Loaded lumber car These here are flat lumber cars.  If the weather is nice you may ride between each stack of wood, but if the train were to ever suddenly stop in an emergency stop, you could risk life & limb!

Lumber & falts This here is an empty lumber car.  They are used to haul various wood types, lengths & widths.  Dry-wall is sometimes hauled with these as well.

Flats & lumber cars This is a bulkhead flat car.  Used to haul fallen trees to pulp mills and paper mills.  This wood here is in it’s first step in becoming news paper, toilet paper, writing paper, paper towels and may even be shredded to manufacture particle-board.  These type rail cars can be ridden, but are so full of sap that it gets all over your clothing and backpack!

Flats & lumber cars Here we have another flat car.   The bulkheads are high, but this doesn’t help keep wind from blowing your clothes off your back!  They are used to haul beams, culverts, pipe and anything that is too long or large to fit through a boxcar doorway.

Pipe train headed northbound! This is a flatcar hauling pipes that I rode from Beaumont, Texas to DeQuincy, Louisiana.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Railroad defect detectors and signaling systems.

 

Automatic Block Signaling…(ABS)

The basic concept of ABS is that the track is divided into Blocks; sections that are protected by Block Signals. A block is the section of line between two consecutive block signals. Trains operate by a track warrant being given to each train crew that obide by specific rules for each block at Control Points. CP’s are marked with mile markers, as like with hiway mile markers, thus keeping a safe margin between each train from signal light, to signal light.

 

Centralized Traffic Control…(CTC)

Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) is a term used to describe a system that allows remote control of a traffic control system. CTC allows a single dispatcher to directly control and monitor a long section of railroad instead of a track warrant being given, often a whole subdivision. CTC provides the greatest traffic capacity for a line, as the person with the traffic overview is also the person directly controlling the traffic. This happens with the dispatcher for each train.

Track torpedoIf an area of track has no ABS or CTC, it is presumed “Dark Territory”. This is a track torpedo I set out on the track, but, of course later removed above.  When a train rolls over the small pack,….POW!  Thus the train-crew knows there is another train in the area and take necessary precautions, since Dark Territory has no means of lighting signaling systems to warn other trains.

Signaling systemsThis is a track-detector.  If dragging equipment anywhere on a passing train comes in contact with this detector, the detector-flap will be activated thus sending a notice to the train-crew either by radio or by automatically giving the next lighting signal a red block thus the engineer will stop the train to investigate.  Also this detector has an infrared heat sensor, (the small gray box).  If any train wheel measures above a certain temperature, the detector again will be set off and appropriate action will be taken.

Train signalsThis here is an overhead detector.  This type detector takes measurements of each rail car as it passes and if there are any defects with the train the detector will send a signal to the train-crew via their radio or by giving the crew a red signal to stop their train and investigate.  The train-crew then will place the train into what’s called “emergency”.  The entire train will be walked alongside while the defect is located and either fixed there on the spot or if the defective rail car has to be taken to a siding or spur and set out.

Track detectorsThis here is a set of mainline overhead CTC signals.  Each train out on the mainline is given either green, yellow, flashing yellow, red or lunar.  Each signal means a certain task is required of the engineer.  Each railroad company has their own set of rules for what each lighting signal means thus keeping the flow of traffic safe at all times.

Rail traffic signalsThese type signals here are siding signals.  They signal the train-crew to either enter the siding or to maintain track-warrant speed on the mainline and not enter the siding.

Drarf signalsThis here is a dwarf signal.  They are used mostly in switching yard areas.  They let the engineer know which tracks are lined up for entering and exiting.  They also can be found at the stopping-point in a siding area that trains use to pass one another.

Swap-boxesThis is a swap-box.  This is the area where all the electrical wiring runs into one area where it then is directed to the appropriate signal that is to be given a command.

 This is an “AEI” detector.  “AEI” detectors read railcar information on each car that rolls by this white box.  This tells of its load contents and carrier as well as costomer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wyoming boxcar ride with the delirium tremens.

It was the summer of 1998, and  I was at my peak of alcohol consumption. 
I had ridden into the town of Keokuk, Iowa from Chicago on an empty boxcar.  Right away, I found a day labor job tearing shingles from the roof of an elderly couples home.  I worked hard for four days, and very glad I had done so, since I desperatally needed new travel gear!

I was happy and surprised to find a terrific army surplus store on my fifth day where I bought a nice bed roll, backpack, camo britches and another canteen; all for $95.00.  I had made up my mind to catch out later on that day, since I was restless as could be!
I caught a BNSF freight train from Keokuk’s small switching yard up to Ottumwa, Iowa, then took the BNSF from Ottumwa to “Stinkin” Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Once I rolled into Lincoln, I had to hop a different freight north to Fremont, Nebraska in order to switch over to the Union Pacific Railroad. Once in Fremont, I hopped west and made my way to Cheyenne, Wyoming, while drinking one and a half liters of liquor per day, the entire trip.

Once in Cheyenne, I had to walk from the UP yards, to the BNSF overpass west of town. It sure was a tough walk, since my shaking was so bad from being dried out alcohol-wise.  Four blocks from the BNSF switching yard, I entered a frequently shopped liquor store and bough another half gallon of vodka for the trip that lie ahead.

At the north end of the BNSF yard, under catch out bridge, I sat and took myself a strong drink right from the bottle!  I felt terrible.  Before this swallow had started its journey through the lining of my small intestine, and into my bloodstream, I had not had a drink for the entire day!  I was surprised I was able to purchase this bottle without dropping it on the floor because of my severe shakiness, being I had gone almost 24 hours without a single drink.

Thirty minutes had passed when a north bound train rolled into the yard.  The train crew had their crew change, then started rolling again.  As it rolled passed me, I was hid behind the bridge pillar next to the Airforse base entrace.  I waited until the locomotives made their way past me, then I jumped into an empty boxcar.  Once I had boarded the train, I sat my backpack down in the corner of the boxcar and went for another drink of vodka.  Oh, no!  My vodka had not made the train as I had!  Where was it?!  Oh, no!  Oh God!  It had fallen from my backpack while I had jumped into the boxcar!  At this point, I had now only had two ounces of alcohol in 24 hours!  I was in big trouble!

I had heard of the DT’s before, but had never experienced them.  Two hours hadn’t passed when the unthinkable started to happen!  I thought two guys were trying to steal my gear while inside the boxcar, and were plotting to kill me!  I managed to make it through Wendover and Casper by huddling in the corner of the boxcar on top of my backpack crying the entire trip before realizing what was possibly going on with me medically!  By the time I rolled into Greybull, Wyoming township for our crew change, I was in terrible shape!

Once in Greybull, I ran to a little store on the main drag, called the police and told them about the two men plotting to kill me and take my gear!  Two officers came to the store and asked me all kinds of questions like, “Who were these guys?  Am I taking or not taking any medications?”  After a search of the area brought up nothing, the one cop asked me, “When was the last time that I had consumed any alcohol?”  I told him when I last had a drink, and how much.  That’s when he confirmed my own suspicion about what was going on!

The cops took me to the local hospital 25 miles away in the town of Worland.
The emergency room doctor hooked an IV line to my arm and pumped in vitamins and fluids.  To stop the DT’s, I was given an injection of Valium, but not before giving me a shot of Haldol in the left ass-cheek to dull the delirious state I was in!

It took nearly five days to get me on my feet and back out on a freight train again!
The DT’s have happened to me only two other times after that, but not as bad.  So, I guess liquor was the real culprit, because never have I had this problem from drinking plain beer. 

Every time I pass through Greybull, Casper, Cheyenne, and Laurel, I get this funky reminder that moves me emotionally because of what happened that time!
God I am so glad that I stopped drinking December 2nd, 2006.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Maine freight train ride took me to Nova Scotia, Greenland and Iceland.

I had just hopped a freight train to Bangor, Maine, from the Framingham Conrail Railroad yards near Boston, Massachusetts.  I was tired, thirsty and hungry!  I bailed off my boxcar and walked to the fisherman’s docks along the Penobscot River. I started asking various boaters in the small harbor-like area if I could do work for twenty dollars for food.  I had asked relentlessly for well over an hour without getting one offer.  I had given up!  I started walking back toward the mission on Cedar Street when I heard a voice behind me say,  “Hey, are you looking for a bit o’ work mate”?  I replied, “Yes sir”!  He then stated, “Come back here mate, I have something that you can help me with”.

This guy was an Aussie.  He had fished all over the world with his small fishing boat outfit. He stated that he had overheard me asking one of his crew-mates that I needed an hour or two worth of work while he was below deck on his boat.  He said, “I hate seeing a man go hungry and I’m going to give you something that you can do and then pay you”.  I was given a five gallon plastic bucket and a small hand brush along with strong smelling chemicals inside.  “Start up at the front-end of my boat mate and scrub’er down”, was his reply.  After I had scrubbed hard for roughly two hours, I was so tired.  I was given $30.00 cash to eat on.  Wow!  This sure made my day!

I walked briskly to the corner store on the edge of Cedar Street where I bought a hot microwavable burrito, bagged chips and a strawberry soda pop.  I sat down on a bench in front of the store and ate.  Ah, this tasted so good being that I had gone roughly 38 hours without having one calorie pass down my gullet and into my gizzard!  Mm mm!  As soon as I ate my fill, I walked back down to the railroad switching yards.  There I set up my camp.  It hadn’t taken me long to gather fire wood, and start a nice camp fire.  As I sat in my dome tent, I thought about how great it would be to drink a few cold beers!  After letting my fire settle a tad, I walked back to the store on the corner and went inside, this time for cold, refreshing beer.  Then back to camp I walked.  Ah, how once again my taste buds cheered in joy!  This time I bought Budweiser beer instead of my usual cheap Milwaukee’s Best brand, being that I now had extra money on me.  I drank several cold, refreshing beers as I warmed my hands by my camp fire.  It had not been long when I heard a voice say, “Is that you mate?”  I right away knew the voice.  It was the guy who let me clean the front-end of his boat for $30.00.  I said, “Yes sir, it’s me!” 

He walked into camp and plopped himself down on a small, broken fir stump.  I looked around and found a small log of my own to sit on.  He said that he had followed me to the store and had seen where I had set camp.  He then asked all sorts of questions of me like, why did I ride freight trains, why did I prefer sleeping outside in a tent, instead of getting a house or apartment; things of this nature.  He liked me because of how “unstable” I was in that I had no permanent place.  Once he found out that I more or less was a transient and I would work anywhere, he then asked if I would be interested in working for him on his fishing boat as a slimer for room and board.  I had done sliming work many times and places before while up in Alaska from Dutch Harbor to Nunivak Island.  It was no biggie to me whether or not I got all nasty from sliming fish in preparing them for sale. To be a slimer on his boat would be a dream come true at this point!  I would be able to travel and work at the same time!

I was then told he was going up north.  He knew people in the township of Godthaab, Greenland, and this is where we would do most our fishing work.  After boarding his boat I was introduced to his entire crew.  Everybody on his boat was like family.  After fishing with these guys several weeks, I had become part of their family.  We all drank beer, so it was no secret to anybody that all of us had some form of alcoholic problem.  This was great, because if another person was feeling a bit shaky, a beer was never too far away to get one back going again!

Godthaab (Nuuk) Harbor, GreenlandThis is the harbor of Nuuk Godthaab, Greenland where we offloaded most our fish catch.

We fished for Herring and sometimes other illegal fish species in very small amounts. Though they always hated illegal fishing, they only did it during really tough times!  Only enough illegal fish were needed to keep fuel in the tanks.  This was only done two times to my knowledge, and only with about 75 pounds of fish.  We would sell our fish to larger canneries at various ports along the Greenland and Iceland coasts.  These canneries would then process the fish further more by filleting, then freezing them. 

GreenlandThis was not too far from Nuuk Harbor, Greenland.

After being with these guys for several months, I gave in to the boredom. I debarked their outfit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I eventually made my way back into the freight train scene by autumn.  I then made my way out to the west coast of North America along the Oregon and northern California coastlines. I had found a bit of fishing work there, but then grew quickly tired of the fishing scene so back into my normal way of life as a hobo once again I fell!

I miss working on fishing boats every now and then. Perhaps one day I may wash another boat for $30.00 and catch a ride this time to Australia or even better yet, Antarctica!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Protected: Deported from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Barrow, Alaska, and the cops who used my bad situation to their advantage!

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Posted in Uncategorized

Newfoundland, the smaller Alaska.

Newfoundland is located in Canada’s Maritime.  It’s such a beautiful place!   Newfoundland has the look and feel much like Alaska does.  The island is roughly 600 miles long from east to west and perhaps 350 miles long from north to south at its longest points.  Newfoundland has Fir trees and Spruce trees and jagged coastlines just as Alaska does as well.

I had ridden a freight train out of the Rigby Yards in South Portland, Maine on a lumber railcar that had been loaded with plywood.  I had to squeeze in between two stacks of this in order to fit and ride out of sight.  As I rolled northward along the Maine coast, I was in total awe at how beautiful the Atlantic Northeast states of the USA were!  I had ridden up out of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire the week prior, and now was almost out of Maine entirely! 

As night time fell upon me at the Canadian/USA border, I was anxious to get across the border and into New Brunswick.  I had made the decision to visit Newfoundland for my first time and didn’t want to get turned back at the border, so I had decided on an illegal crossing.  This was the first of May 1992 and getting through the border even then was a hassle, so finally after waiting about eighteen hours at the railroad bridge that crosses the St. Croix River out of Vanceboro, Maine and into Canada, I hopped up into an empty boxcar on a train that had made its way onto the bridge while crossing into Canada.

I rode all the way into the Island Yard in St. John, New Brunswick, in one ride!  Usually there at the border the trains will swap out locomotive units then continue on, but this had never been done, so this was to my advantage!  Once in the Island Yard, I right away saw a freight waiting on clearance to leave out onto the mainline!  So I high-stepped it over to where this train waited and scanned the entire length of it for a ride.  I found another empty boxcar roughly 40 car lengths back from the head end and I got up inside.  After waiting around 30 minutes we pulled.  We made our way along the rougher dark track territory lines of coastal New Brunswick until we reached Nova Scotia.

Dark Track areas are train lines that have no computer switches, electric signaling systems and usually are in worse shape than the higher maintained lines, so slower speeds are required along these areas, thus making your trip actually even better, being that you have a chance at seeing even more out of the boxcar doorway!

After I had reached the draw-bridge that spans the waterway inlet near the township of Aulac/Sackville, I felt that I had gone far enough into Canada where I wouldn’t raise any suspicions of me being in the country illegally, and even if I did get caught, I would just say that I crossed the border legally into Canada at Detroit/Windsor!   So I stuck out my thumb and caught a ride all the way to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  Here I eventually boarded the biggest ferry I ever saw in my life!  It was the Joseph Smallwood passenger/vehicle ferry, and for a walk on one-way passenger fare then of $16.00, I got an eight hour ride from the ferry terminal in Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland.  What an awesome ferry ride!  She had a casino on board, they played a movie in the small movie theater, and all in all, this ferry could hold 1,200 passengers and 350 vehicles, as well as 18-wheelers and busses!  I crossed roughly 110 miles of iceberg infested waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence!  What a majestic ride!

After reaching Port Aux Basque ferry terminal, I had already talked to many people that were riding with me on the ferry and had found a ride all the way across Newfoundland to its capital of St. John’s!  Beautiful as could be!  Newfoundland reminded me so much of Alaska!  Its beauty! Its majesty! The vividly colored wild-flowers that grew up from the roadside like a crowd rising to give a standing applaud!  This was great!

We drove all the way into St. John’s and the driver dropped me off at the Salvation Army homeless shelter downtown off Water Street where I begged for a room for the night at least until I could get out the next day and hunt for a place to set up my camp.  I was given one free night here, but would soon find out why I must now leave.

Once I had been given a room, the Salvation Army director took my sign-in application and called immigration on me.  The next morning I had a visit from Immigration Officer Greg Powers.  Mr. Powers was a silver haired Newfie.  His shoulders were just as broad as the ferry I rode over to Newfoundland on!  He asked for me to come with him so that we could talk privately.  I thought perhaps they knew of my illegal entrance, but what had happened is, the Salvation Army director had called immigration and had stated that I was from the USA and had no money, or way of supporting myself while I was in Canada, thus I was deported my first time and flown back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I had to stay at this Salvation Army four days before my papers had been put in order and I had gone to my immigration hearing. 

I had a nice flight back to the USA, but I had only been in Newfoundland those very few days and I wanted more!  So after a four month stay back in the USA, I made my way back to Canada’s Newfoundland once again!  This time around, I managed to meet a nice gal to where I had stayed at her place for roughly three weeks.  I had been spotted by the same immigration officer I had prior, and he reported seeing me again!  I thus was deported my second time!  This time at least I got to get a taste of Newfoundland.  This deportation, I was flown all the way to Barrow, Alaska!  When you are being deported, Canada will send you back anywhere that you state that you want to go as long as it’s in your country of origin.

NewfoundlandThis here is St. John’s harbor in beautiful Newfoundland.

Joseph Smallwood ferry terminalThis is the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.  It takes about eight hours to cross the channel from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland on the Joseph Smallwood ferry.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My train ride into the Appalacian winter storm!

This is a “Marc” public transit train.  I rode from King Street to downtown Washington DC. Also to get out to where the CSX yards are.

I just got out of jail in Thomasville, Georgia where I had spent 16 days in custody for Railroad Trespassing.  I had gotten caught sleeping inside an old caboose that sat down in the switching yards.  I could not post $250.00 bail, so I had to sit in jail until my court date! 

After getting released from myiron bar hotel, I hopped a freight train out of Thomasville and rode to Waycross, Georgia.  After arriving, I built myself a campfire then walked into town.  I was so hungry!  Once inside the Piggly Wiggly, I come across hot dogs that were on sale.  Wow!  Fifty cents for a package of hot dogs?  Must have been a really old cow, chicken and pig?  Getting back to camp was a bit harder than getting to the store.  As I was just about back on railroad property when a large cup of ice water had been thrown out of a vehicle window on me!  I was soaking wet from my neck to my belt.  Usually that only happened to me when I took my backpack, inviting something like this.  (I only had a small plastic grocery bag).  It was a carload of kids that had nothing better to do I guess. 

After scarfing down eight hot dogs and putting out me fire, I hopped on another train that had pulled out of the yards just as I put my fire out.  I made my way northward through Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  From Rocky Mount, I stayed on my train, being that I still had a pretty full stomach and plenty of water as well.  The next morning I rolled into Washington DC.  I didn’t want to end up in the huge switching yards there, so I bailed off on the mainline once we slowed down enough that I could safely do so.  Washington DC has their own metro-rail system for public transportation needs.  This system is the “Marc Transit”. 

I had hopped off my boxcar near the King Street depot and boarded the Marc and rode it into downtown DC.  I had never in my life seen so many homeless people as here in DC!  Everywhere that I look there were homeless walking around even asking me for spare-change!  I boarded back on the Marc and rode to the end of their line in the township of Frederic, Maryland.

Once off the Marc rail transit train, I walked not too far to a small railroad switching yard owned by the CSX Railroad Company and caught out on a westbound freight train that was headed for Chicago.  The next morning I had made it into the town of Cumberland, Maryland.  There was a huge CSX switching yard here.  I bailed off my train then scampered off the property as quickly as I could, then made my way to a Radio Shak electronics store.  I wanted a new weather radio.  I had gotten my NOAA weather radio stolen from my property items while I was in jail in Georgia a couple of days before and never could prove that one of the property keepers there at the jail had taken it home, being that it was such a nice unit.  For an on sale price of $29.99 I treated myself to a new radio here, then walked to the library to read until it was dark enough to sneak back into the railroad yards to find an empty boxcar to sleep inside.

This was the middle of December and the weather had, so far, been unseasonably warm for Appalachia.  Temperatures were running in the mid-50’s for daytime highs.  I had just bought a new sleeping bag about four weeks before, but it was a lighter brand and was not rated for temps lower than 40 degrees.  I needed to keep an ear out for the very latest cold weather reports so I could prepare for it by getting a thicker bed roll, after all, I sure didn’t want to be caught out in the frost-filled night having this skinny bed roll by itself!

After it had gotten dark, I left the library and walked cautiously back into the switching yard.  I had always had problems with the bulls in this Cumberland yard. I found an empty boxcar and hopped up into it.  I laid out my sleeping gear and turned on my new weather radio.   It must have been the high mountains around the area and being inside the steel boxcar because I could not get any reception at all on the radio.  Finally I fell to sleep about 2 AM.

Boom, bang, bang, boom, eeeeeerk!  My boxcar started moving around at 5 AM.  When I got inside the boxcar the night before, I thought that for sure I would not be going anywhere during the night because the air hoses on each end of my boxcar had not been sewn up.  What happened was, yard workers had sewn the set of cars up that my boxcar was on during the pre-dawn hours while I slept.  I could have gotten off if I had been rolled up and packed away, but since my bed roll and most of my clothing was lying out on the boxcar floor, it would have taken me ten minutes to pack it all away.  I sat inside the boxcar and rode out of the yards onto the mainline.   What pure luck!  Away I rolled westbound.

Cumberland, MD CSX freight trainThis is a “CSX” freight train heading into the switching yards in Cumberland, MD.

After daybreak, the sky looked thick and dark with heavy wet clouds in all directions.  A winter storm was on its way!  As we slowly crawled up higher and higher into the Appalachian Mountains the temperature was falling rapidly along with freezing precipitation.  It was a slow climb up into he mountains too.  By the time I had gotten to the highest point along this route, snow was falling heavier than I had ever seen anywhere in 49 states before!  Snow was so deep that it was as high as the bottom of the boxcar on the outside to each side of the train!  The railroad snow plows had been working this route most of the day so it was as if I were rolling inside a giant crack in the Earth, having nearly five feet of snow on each side of my boxcar.  Snow had been blowing into my boxcar all morning, so there was not one square inch of the floor that was not covered with at least six inches of the white stuff! 

After cresting the highest point on the route, we started heading back down the west side of the Appalachians and into warmer climate.  Things started thawing and getting soaking wet.  By the time I was out of the mountains, the snow had mostly all melted inside my boxcar leaving everything wet and dripping.

After walking back and forth the entire trip inside the boxcar in order to stay warm, we rolled into the town of Conway, Pennsylvania, for our second crew change since my journey started in Cumberland, Maryland.  What had happened is, we had taken the north branch route out of Connellsville, PA during the night, thus taking me into the Conway Yards.  I then bailed off here and found a laundry mat and dried my gear out and this time I made sure I listened to the weather report completely, this way I would know what type weather to expect for my next train ride that would take me on into Chicago land.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments