"Hoboes are migratory workers who helped satisfy America's labor needs from the Civil War to the Great Depression; they lived in hobo camps, also known as "jungles". They were beside rivers and near railroad yards where hoboes slept, cooked, ate and socialized with one another while they were between jobs. Hoboes are not homeless. They work to travel and travel to work; their chief mode of transportation has always been freight train riding; they "ride the rails" from town to town in search of short term work to support their lifestyle and provide life’s necessities until they decide to move on. Hoboes are hardworking people; they insist on working for what they receive from others. Hoboes are honest people who are always willing to help others in need and share whatever they have with others.
At one time there were hundreds of thousands of individuals living this unique lifestyle. Today there are probably fewer than 500 true hoboes left in the United States; most are retired from the rails and now prefer to travel to hobo gatherings by more traditional modes of transportation like motor homes and cars, known as "rubber tramping". Some of the older hoboes do still ride freight trains; there are also a limited number of younger hoboes who have joined the hobo ranks since the depression, those few will keep the hobo traditions alive along with a growing number of "friends of the hoboes" who also are trying to preserve the history of the hobo culture.
One town in America has dedicated itself to preserving the hobo culture and history, Britt Iowa; Every August this small farming community is host to a week long "National Hobo Convention", attracting retired and active hoboes from all over the country. The hoboes that attend in any given year come to socialize with their hobo brothers, to share their music, and share tales of their hobo adventures with the thousands of tourists and local visitors that also attend. Also in Britt Iowa is a permanent Hobo Museum supported by the "Hobo Foundation", local folks trying to preserve hobo history and culture.
People sometimes confuse hoboes with other, less wholesome people: Hoboes are not tramps. Tramps travel, either by walking or by hitchhiking and may or may not work for what they receive. Hoboes are not bums. Bums rarely work, they would rather receive a handout.
Further information about hoboes and hobo history can be found in most public libraries; a good book on the subject is "Tales Of The Iron Road" by "Steamtrain" Maury Graham."