Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hobo Delight

Hobos have been traveling the US and riding the rails since the Civil War. The image of the hobo peaked during the depression of the 1930's, when many took to the rails in a desperate search for work. It must be noted that a hobo is different from a tramp or a bum. Most hobos would agree that a hobo work, the tramp will only work when they have to, and the bums will not work at all. 

Hobos were often welcomed in areas of under employment or when their labor was required. They were also viewed as a menace when unemployment was high or when the hobo's labor was no longer needed. Many times they were literally driven out of town by the local police who would meet incoming freight trains and take the hobos to the county line.

For the hobos the train is their primary method of transport as they roam the country in search of work. Hobos have an intimate connection and knowledge of trains and railroading in general. In the early 20th century, the increasing use of cars and trucks brought a reduction in the number of passengers and freight to be transported. This would ultimately lead to decreasing rail network upon which the hobo could travel. The nearly total replacement of steam engines by diesels in the 1950's also contributed to the decline of the hobo. Steam engines had to make regular stops to take on water and this allowed hoboes to get on or off trains at these points and many hobo camps were located beside water tanks.

Riding the rails was very dangerous. The bulls were hired to keep hoboes off trains, so you couldn't just go to a railroad yard and climb on. Most hoboes would hide along the tracks outside the yard. They would run along the train as it gained speed, grab hold and jump into open boxcars. Sometimes, they missed. Many lost their legs or their lives. As the train was reaching its destination, the hoboes had to jump off before a new set of bulls to arrest them or beat them up.

1930’s was a decade of mostly tolerance towards the hobo. Some railroads would attach empty box cars to freight trains to accommodate the large numbers of hobos. It's not certain if these were acts of charity or an attempt to stop hobos from breaking into sealed cars.
Research Source: Hobos and the Railroads

Click here to view images of hobo during the great depression.  

Rice dishes are easy to make and economical.

Hobo Delight
Copyrighted 2013, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.

1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup water
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
4 beef hot dogs, slice
1 (15.25 oz.) can corn, drained

In a large pot, bring water and beef broth to a boil. While liquid is boiling, stir in rice, cover and cook for 17 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, green bell pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, stir and cook for 5 minutes, until bell peppers are tender.  Add tomato sauce and bay leaf, stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Add hot dogs to the tomato mixture and stir well, simmer another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Stir in cooked rice. Add corn and stir well, simmer until corn is heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Enjoy!


  1. This sounds like a great cool weather dish, Christine! I've got a couple of Hot Links to use up... the hubby will love it... me, too. :) My Mom hailed from a small town in Iowa where hobos frequently passed through. Seems they had kind of a "short-hand" or secret language where they'd leave marks indicating where a warm meal (and warm welcome) could be expected. My Grandma's house was on their route. They would've loved a meal like this!

    1. Hello Kim,

      The hobos had a secret code... Among hobos messages were routinely exchanged about where to find work, or hand out or perhaps mark a place that was not good for hobos.


  2. What lucky hobo's to enjoy a meal like this!!!


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