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Beginning in the 20th century, nomadic workers known commonly as Hobos traveled the railways leaving behind secret symbols. These Hoboglyphs guided countless weary travelers toward food and shelter, and away from potential dangers.

Catch a Ride

Catch a Ride

This symbol let others know they were in a good spot to catch a free ride, with low consequences— though free rides had their own set of dangers.

Work for Food

Work for Food

Securing a meal on the rails, could be a difficult task. This symbol above let Boomers (skilled nomads who followed work boomtown to boomtown) know that a hard day of labor led to a full belly at night.

Town Allows Alcohol

Town Allows Alcohol

The life of a drifter is a trying, treacherous, and unforgiving journey. It must have been warm relief to set eyes on the symbol above, knowing the town ahead was a place to relax, have a drink, or blow off steam.

Safe to Drink the Water

Safe to Drink the Water

While clean drinking water and a place to rest your head were hardly luxuries, both were an important part of survival. The hoboglyph above let fellow travelers know that “safety” lay just around the bend.


There are Thieves About

The hoboglyph above let rail travelers know they should stay alert and cautious. As if the risk of jumping from train-to-train wasn’t enough, Hobos also had to worry about the constant threat of thieves.


Sit Down Food Area

When you live a life on foot, a nice sit down meal is more scarce than imagined. This symbol let others know that there was a place to sit down and relax for a bit before they start the next leg of their journey.



These directional symbols were usually accompanied with another symbol depiction what was in the distance. These usually were used to lead others to a place to eat, sleep, or work.


Kind Woman

A kind woman that was willing to help out a weary traveler was seen as a saint in the eyes of a vagabond. This is one of the most important symbols someone could find on a building, and it was a good way to show that fellow travelers were looking out for anyone following in their footsteps.