mickeycrimm
mickeycrimm
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April 21st, 2014 at 7:00:41 AM permalink
In the "pennies on a railroad track" thread Mike said riding a freight train was on his bucket list. I have a little experience in this area, although it's been 18 years since I hopped a train. Mike, the train in your video in the "pennies on a railroad track" thread is called a Union Pacific "hot shot." It's so called because it has the right of way on the track between southern California and Chicago. These trains are hauling goods made in China, Korea, Japan, etc. and are on their way to the Chicago yard for redistribution to other parts back east. The same type of trains roll east out of San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. Another slang term for these type of trains is "stacker" or "stackers," so called because they stack the containers one on top of the other. The railroad cars these containers are in are called "48's" simply because they are 48 feet long.

The hot shots make the run from Los Angeles to Chicago in about 54 hours. They run up through Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Ogden, then turn east and run through southern Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and into Illinois.

I used to jump the hot shots in Vegas up to Salt Lake City and other points. These trains made regular crew changes where one set of engineer and brakeman would depart the train and another set would get on. The crew change only takes about five minutes. The crew change for the northbound trains in Las Vegas was where the tracks cross Charleston Blvd. The nose of the train stopped just across Charleston. The rest of the train stretched south and had traffic blocked so the crew change had to be quick.

So to jump these trains a freight tramp had to be quick. You have to find one of them "48's" with a steel bottomed floor and jump in. Not all of them have a solid bottom floor. And you have to jump into the rear of the car, behind the containers, so you have a wind block.

Whatever you do don't ever jump into an empty boxcar. It's not just a bad ride, it's horrible. Being empty they bounce and roll. I laugh when I see movies where they are in a boxcar and carrying on a conversation. It is so loud in an empty boxcar that there is no way you can carry on a conversation with anyone. As a matter of fact it is so loud you could scream at the top of your lungs and not hear yourself.

If you make a jump don't go alone. I always carry a sleeping bag and a day pack. And I always jumped at night or just before sunrise for camouflage. Your choices for jumping off the train are Milford, Utah and Salt Lake City. At SLC the trains slow to a crawl right at the old Union Station right off downtown and it's easy to jump off. Don't worry to much about the railroad police. Just stay out of sight as much as possible. If you get busted, as a first time offender you can expect a warning ticket and getting kicked off the train. You don't have to worry about getting busted out in the middle of nowhere. The railroad police are only around the yards.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
odiousgambit
odiousgambit
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April 21st, 2014 at 7:06:05 AM permalink
Quote: mickeycrimm

to jump these trains



wow, that is an impressive amount of knowledge for this day and age. In contrast to the old days, one gets the feeling train hopping is hardly done at all.
"Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed." .......... Mark Twain
boymimbo
boymimbo
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April 21st, 2014 at 7:10:44 AM permalink
Impressive stuff from the veteran. That item is not on my bucket list.
----- You want the truth! You can't handle the truth!
treetopbuddy
treetopbuddy
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April 21st, 2014 at 7:13:23 AM permalink
Quote: mickeycrimm

In the "pennies on a railroad track" thread Mike said riding a freight train was on his bucket list. I have a little experience in this area, although it's been 18 years since I hopped a train. Mike, the train in your video in the "pennies on a railroad track" thread is called a Union Pacific "hot shot." It's so called because it has the right of way on the track between southern California and Chicago. These trains are hauling goods made in China, Korea, Japan, etc. and are on their way to the Chicago yard for redistribution to other parts back east. The same type of trains roll east out of San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. Another slang term for these type of trains is "stacker" or "stackers," so called because they stack the containers one on top of the other. The railroad cars these containers are in are called "48's" simply because they are 48 feet long.

The hot shots make the run from Los Angeles to Chicago in about 54 hours. They run up through Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Ogden, then turn east and run through southern Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and into Illinois.

I used to jump the hot shots in Vegas up to Salt Lake City and other points. These trains made regular crew changes where one set of engineer and brakeman would depart the train and another set would get on. The crew change only takes about five minutes. The crew change for the northbound trains in Las Vegas was where the tracks cross Charleston Blvd. The nose of the train stopped just across Charleston. The rest of the train stretched south and had traffic blocked so the crew change had to be quick.

So to jump these trains a freight tramp had to be quick. You have to find one of them "48's" with a steel bottomed floor and jump in. Not all of them have a solid bottom floor. And you have to jump into the rear of the car, behind the containers, so you have a wind block.

Whatever you do don't ever jump into an empty boxcar. It's not just a bad ride, it's horrible. Being empty they bounce and roll. I laugh when I see movies where they are in a boxcar and carrying on a conversation. It is so loud in an empty boxcar that there is no way you can carry on a conversation with anyone. As a matter of fact it is so loud you could scream at the top of your lungs and not hear yourself.

If you make a jump don't go alone. I always carry a sleeping bag and a day pack. And I always jumped at night or just before sunrise for camouflage. Your choices for jumping off the train are Milford, Utah and Salt Lake City. At SLC the trains slow to a crawl right at the old Union Station right off downtown and it's easy to jump off. Don't worry to much about the railroad police. Just stay out of sight as much as possible. If you get busted, as a first time offender you can expect a warning ticket and getting kicked off the train. You don't have to worry about getting busted out in the middle of nowhere. The railroad police are only around the yards.



I want to hang with you, mickeycrimm. You are one interesting dude.
Each day is better than the next
MrV
MrV
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April 21st, 2014 at 8:11:18 AM permalink
I've talked to some people who have ridden the rails for awhile, and they described a life of both comraderie and frequent violence.

While they were not very specific, I got the impression that they witnessed other tramps getting crippled or killed.

Whoa, that is a steep price to pay for what they perceive to be personal freedom.

My questions:

1) What percentage of these folks do you believe are mentally ill?

2) What is the point of riding the rails, i.e. is it to find seasonal work, to scratch an itch, or something else?
"What, me worry?"
DJTeddyBear
DJTeddyBear
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April 21st, 2014 at 8:13:58 AM permalink
Cool info. Yeah, I've wanted to do it too. Never had the balls.

Interesting about the crew change. I thought it would be one free for the duration, taking shifts and utilizing the caboose during off time. Seems more cost effective than to stop and restart an entire train...
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? Note that the same could be said for Religion. I.E. Religion is nothing more than organized superstition.
mickeycrimm
mickeycrimm
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April 21st, 2014 at 8:57:47 AM permalink
Quote: MrV

I've talked to some people who have ridden the rails for awhile, and they described a life of both comraderie and frequent violence. While they were not very specific, I got the impression that they witnessed other tramps getting crippled or killed. Whoa, that is a steep price to pay for what they perceive to be personal freedom.

My questions:

1) What percentage of these folks do you believe are mentally ill?

2) What is the point of riding the rails, i.e. is it to find seasonal work, to scratch an itch, or something else?



I really didn't see a lot of mental illness but a high percentage of trains riders are out and out criminals. There's a lot of booze and drugs involved. Basically, riding trains is a free way to get around and yes I did travel with the seasons. Watching the scenery go by is a wonderful experience. I worked day labor everywhere I went. But I got paid at the end of the day and if I didn't want to return the next day I didn't. You have no bills, no commitments, it's a lifestyle of total freedom. You are poor but free as hell. It gets in the blood. There is no way I would trade my lifestyle today for my old lifestyle. But in a strange way I miss it.

It can be dangerous and you have to be prepared to defend yourself. I always wore steel toed boots. If someone tried to get into my 48 they had to come up the ladder. When their head got above deck I was prepared to kick a field goal with my steel toed boot. And I did come close to having to kick a field goal once. It's a good policy to not meet anyone on the rails. In the towns is fine but not out in the middle of nowhere. You have to explain that to tramps that come walking up the tracks when you are stopped out in the middle of nowhere.

I'll try to find some links about what was going on when I was still riding.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
mickeycrimm
mickeycrimm
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April 21st, 2014 at 9:02:33 AM permalink
Quote: DJTeddyBear

Cool info. Yeah, I've wanted to do it too. Never had the balls. Interesting about the crew change. I thought it would be one free for the duration, taking shifts and utilizing the caboose during off time. Seems more cost effective than to stop and restart an entire train...



The cabooses have gone by the wayside. Guess what, those locomotives don't have running water on them. The Engineer and the Brakeman have to crap in plastic bags and deposit them in a dumpster when they depart the train. I'm not kidding.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
mickeycrimm
mickeycrimm
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April 21st, 2014 at 9:27:55 AM permalink
Read the article below the picture. It's about as comprehensive of a report as I have read about what was going on on the rails in the 1990's.

http://www.murderpedia.org/male.S/s/silveria-robert.htm
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
Dalex64
Dalex64
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April 21st, 2014 at 9:31:47 AM permalink
Quote: mickeycrimm

The cabooses have gone by the wayside. Guess what, those locomotives don't have running water on them. The Engineer and the Brakeman have to crap in plastic bags and deposit them in a dumpster when they depart the train. I'm not kidding.



I'm not sure if you were were referring to a specific locomotives when you said "those locomotives," but some locomotives have toilets.

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