The (mostly) true story of hobo graffiti

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  • Published on:  Monday, July 16, 2018
  • What we know about hobo graffiti comes from hobos — a group that took pride in embellishing stories.

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    Hobos, or tramps, were itinerant workers and wanderers who illegally hopped freight cars on the newly expanding railroad in the United States in the late 19th century. They used graffiti, also known as tramp writing, as a messaging system to tell their fellow travelers where they were and where they were going. Hobos would carve or draw their road persona, or moniker, on stationary objects near railroad tracks, like water towers and bridges.

    But news stories at the time spread tales of a different kind of graffiti. They included coded symbols that were supposedly drawn on fence posts and houses to convey simple messages to tramps. Seeing an image of a cat on a fence post indicated “kind lady lives here,” for example. While this language probably existed to a certain extent, it certainly was not as widespread as the media led readers to believe. In reality, these stories were largely informed by hobos — a group that took pride in embellishing stories so they could remain elusive.
  • Source:


  • Van Hendrix

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    "I was here"

  • Samuel Cochise

     (17 hours ago)


  • Something Dreadful

     (Aug 26, 2018)

    I wasn't.

  • US

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    I saw some graffiti in a city in Socal with the USB and Wifi symbol. Started looking for a hotspot.

  • Brennan Morris

     (Dec 18, 2018)

    Where, i live in Socal.

  • Lurid Phaesporia

     (Nov 6, 2018)

    Haha my kinda guy

  • Marc Shanahan

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    Ah, The Hobo Code. One of my favorite episodes of Mad Men.

  • MLTS

     (Sep 2, 2018)

    yeah, it's mostly about the show. I finished breaking bad with difficulty, while i could watch episodes of mad men one after another and not even notice time passing, when they both have 45 minute episodes

  • Calmindigweed

     (Jul 27, 2018)

    Any show is binge-watchable if you like it enough.

  • Justin Y.

     (Jul 16, 2018)


  • Jack Obrein

     (Oct 14, 2018)

    Political comment hobo style.🙈🙉🙊👦no 🐑 u President 🐂💩🖕✌out!!

  • Nathan Quan

     (Aug 8, 2018)

    Hi Justin!

  • William Fisher

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    My great-grandmother's house was definitely marked. She would make biscuits and gravy for any hobo or drifter that knocked on her door but she never advertised that so her house had to be marked.

  • dick liddle

     (Aug 26, 2018)

    Same except it was my grandma in the house i grew up in my dad used to tell me stories

  • yo momma

     (Aug 12, 2018)

    They would leave her creampies

  • Hyun Seok Ryu

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    The one rule of the Hobo code is that you do not talk about the Hobo code

  • Natalie Sutton

     (Jan 3, 2019)

    Second rule if the hobo code..... You DONT TALK ABOUT THE HOBO CODE

  • Huzufu

     (Aug 17, 2018)

    Quebecan Mapping *_Whoooshhh_*

  • []

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    "Peak Hobodom"... I like that term

  • Brennan Morris

     (Dec 18, 2018)

    So if femdom is wanting to be dominated by a female. Wisdom is wanting to be dominated by a wizard so hobodom.....

  • fata morgana

     (Nov 16, 2018)


  • Tohru is My waifu

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    I thought the title said hobo giraffe, I’m disappointed

  • DoshWhop

     (Aug 1, 2018)

    I read the title correct and was satisfied that the accompanying video was both engaging and relevant with regard to said title...But after reading this comment I am now also disappointed and saddened by the lack of a hobo giraffe.

  • Jediya Rahim - Danford

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    Great idea for a children's book

  • Dave

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    So tramp stamp?

  • Mr Knowbody

     (Oct 25, 2018)

    I love lamp

  • Minerguy

     (Oct 4, 2018)

    Ur gramps a tramp

  • Angelique

     (Jul 16, 2018)

    Someone at vox surfs reddit

  • FuzzyDancingBear

     (Jul 31, 2018)

    People everywhere lurk reddit bro, it's reddit

  • Testudo Graeca

     (Jul 17, 2018)

    Your pfp fits the comment