RIDING THE RAILS
St. Louis is an historic railroad town,
with famous railways that played
a vital role in the expansion of the U.S.
An important crossroads for agriculture,
cattle, passengers and industry throughout
the 19th & 20th centuries,
and redefining itself today.
During the great depression (1930's),
many people were forced off the farm
and drawn to jobs a half continent away.
And often the only way to get there
was to hop on freight trains, illegally.
More than 2-million men, and perhaps
8,000 women became hoboes and "rode the rails"
to risk their lives to find employment out west.
Thousands were killed in accidents or by
brutal railyard guards to discourage free rides.
Some hoboes who later became famous
include oil billionaire H.L.Hunt, journalist Eric Sevareid,
and supreme court justice William Douglas.
Many of these railways are still in use today.
(Vintage photo at bottom -- courtesy of HistoricArchives.org, 1933)