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– **History**:
– Illegally hopping a ride on a private freight car began with the invention of the train.
– Freighthopping became common in the U.S. after the Civil War, especially among migrant workers known as hobos.
– It was widely used during times of economic dislocation like the Great Depression.
– Popular culture in 20th century America celebrated the practice.
– The activity is less common in the 21st century, but a community of freight-train riders still exists.

– **Riding the rods**:
Train hoppers rode in or above freight cars.
– Another historic method was riding the rods.
– Riding the rods was dangerous due to the violent movements of the cars.
– Steel truss rods were used to support the underside of the car.
– Hobos would ride the rods by lying on them or holding on tightly.

– **Dangers**:
– Riding outside a freight car is dangerous.
– Being in a loaded car with shifting cargo can also be risky.
– The 1944 Balvano train disaster in Italy involved hundreds of freighthoppers.

– **Today**:
– Freighthopping occurs worldwide with varying perspectives on its legality.
– In Europe, migrants use trains to cross borders despite deterrent measures.
– In the U.S., Union Pacific Railroad encourages reporting of train hoppers.
– In Mexico, migrants hop freight trains to reach the U.S., riding on trains known as La Bestia.
– In Mauritania, freighthoppers can ride with their cargo freely on the Mauritania Railway.

– **See also**:
– Ben Reitman, the hobo doctor.
– Mike Brodie, freighthopping photographer.
– W. H. Davies, the tramp-poet.

Freighthopping (Wikipedia)

Freighthopping or trainhopping is the act of surreptitiously boarding and riding a freightcar, which is usually illegal.

Freight-hopping youth near Bakersfield, California (National Youth Administration, 1940)
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