Wrap up your bindle stick and hop aboard that train car because we're celebrating National Hobo Weekend!

I started this blog, thinking it would be fun to write about hobos, but the more I read the more fascinating hobos became. Seriously, you guys, hobos are awesome.


First, a little history on our friend the hobo. I bet you immediately connect a hobo with that guy asking change under the overpass, am I right? Well, you're wrong. A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, unlike "tramps", who work only when they are forced to, and "bums", who do not work at all, "hobos" are workers who wander. They also have a code of ethics, which includes not molesting children, which is a good thing.


I know what, you're thinking. What does the word hobo mean? Well, let me tell you. The origin in unknown, but  it may derive from the term hoe-boy meaning "farmhand". It could also come from the railroad greeting, "Ho, beau!" or an abbreviation of "homeward bound" Either way, it's fun to say, hobo. Speaking of which, hobo's have whole load of slang words, I took the liberties of picking out the best.

1. Bindle Stick - a collection of belongings wrapped in cloth and tied around a stick

2. Bone Polisher - a mean dog

3. Cannonball - a fast train

4. California Blankets - newspaper used as bedding

5. Buck - a Catholic priest, good for a dollar

6. Catch the Westbound - to die

7. Doggin' it - traveling by bus

8. Mulligan -  a type of community stew, created by several hobos combining whatever food they have or can collect

9. Tokay Blanket - drinking alcohol to stay warm

10. Yegg - a traveling professional theif

11. - Possum Belly - to ride on the roof of a passenger car (one must lie flat, on his/her stomach, to avoid being blown off)

12. Jungle Buzzard - a Hobo who preys on his own

And if all this nifty slang wasn't enough, they also have their own symbols to communicate within the hobo network in secret. Luckily I have a decoder.


Pretty awesome right? Well, not as awesome as the current hobo king, Minnesota Jim. That's right, the hobos select their own King every year at the hobo convention in Iowa. A weekend long celebration where a king is crowned and then a parade is held in their honor.

hobo king

"All Hail, Minnesota Jim!"

Guys, hobos are amazing, there's so much more you need to check out on your own, and get your on Hobo name here, http://planet1051.com/hobo-name-generator/. I myself am Montana Downtown Russ. Have fun.

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1 Comment

  • I'm writing a fictional memoir about my grandfather who we think became a hobo in the 40's - I'd like to cite you as one of my sources - maybe use the sign chart?
    Thanks for a wonderful website - maybe I'll see you in Britt!

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