Trains & Drug Smuggling

theories and spec; back up posts w/ reasoning and evidence/examples

Trains & Drug Smuggling

Postby Cheshire » Wed May 02, 2012 6:50 pm

Does anyone know anything about the trains in Keddie at the time of the murders? How often did trains pass through and/or stop? If they didn't stop, did they slow enough for people to hop on/off? Where did they come from and where were they heading? And how loud were they as they came through?
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Wed May 02, 2012 7:19 pm

Western Pacific was in serious financial trouble in the early 1980s (about to be bought out by Union Pacific). There may have been a financial incentive to look the other way if the train was being used to transport illegal cargo. Looks like the route was Salt Lake City through Nevada and then to Oakland. ... tern.shtml

Gotta love google: (Western Pacific Agent (1950) Storyline: Detectives for the Western Pacific Railroad investigate several murders, including one of a railroad payroll agent. Taglines: STOP . . . killer on a rampage! LOOK . . . violence rides the rails! LISTEN . . . guns blast the night.. ... ornia.html:
3 Hobos Slain in California
Published: August 10, 1982
OROVILLE, Calif., Aug. 9— The police sought a motive today in the slayings of three middle-aged hobos who were found with their throats slashed. The bodies were found Sunday night near the Western Pacific Railroad yard in South Oroville. The victims were identified as Bernard Mosely, 51 years old; Wade Southern, 46, and Thomas Glen, 65.
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Re: Trains

Postby not sure » Wed May 02, 2012 10:27 pm

Passenger lines had ceased stopping at Keddie by 1981 but my understanding is that freight trains still stopped and still passed through at that time. The Keddie Wye is a famous switching/holding point and a lot of trains still go through Keddie Junction.
Here's a recent video someone took just a year or so back that includes Keddie.

The Amazing Feather River Railroads and the Keddie Wye--The Seven Wonders of the Railroad World!
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Re: Trains

Postby dmac » Wed May 02, 2012 11:38 pm

there are several astoundingly concise articles on the rail history of Keddie already posted, and it would be great if someone took the time to assemble them in one post- they may already be assembled in my thread about the history of Keddie. Keddie sprung from nowhere due to Arthur Keddie's incredible fortitude, and his Wye is still the sole thing keeping Keddie alive. Rail passenger traffic included US Presidents, actors, all kinds of rich folk stopping by for a gulp or a sleep. The downfall of Passenger Service to Keddie was it's initial hardship- that was the late 50s or 60s as I recall.

Note the number of members here whose very nicknames ID them as railroad fans- including Valley Flyer, bless his damned soul.

Keddie Wye is also a huge focus as a (partial? or whole?) motive for the murders and the ensuing coverup by LE. Well, at least the story goes--- that drugs were being shipped va WP and dropped at Keddie. I don't buy it, but...

Sue was not a stellar mom, but no victim here deserved a damned thing close to what happened. By uncovering the "skeletons in the closet", we are not besmirching the family name nor knocking the victims- they were human, troubled, difficult, and complex. We are looking for actions and motives, and that's where the truth lies.

This murder was committed by killers who knew the family well, and had a huge personal issue or five.

Sorry if this offends Sheila or her new spokespuppy with the gung-fu Superfriends grip, but we will figure out what was really going on, whether she and Thesaurus Dinosaurus choose to lie or not participate or say they don't remember. Sheila is finished as a spokesperson on this case, in my clear opinion. Sheila is still a victim, but Sheila is also a fraud.


and here's a direct link to the best article I've seen about the rise and fall of Keddie, from the train perspective:

The failure of Keddie still plainly rests on Mollath's hands. Money-grubbing cash whore assholes.
"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
reach me at
keddie28 AT gmail DOT com
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Re: Trains

Postby Chichibcc » Thu May 03, 2012 4:42 am

Here is a PDF copy of a brochure on Plumas County railroads that may also be helpful:
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 6:41 am

Going to compile some of the comments that come up when I do a search of the forum for the word "train".

by not sure
Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:51 pm
Re: number 6451 on the window sill
Okay, this may be far-fetched but could the number 6451 have anything to do with train numbers or schedules?

by SecretAgentHolly
Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:50 pm
Re: Rod DeCrona
... this board. I think that the larger volumes of pot (aside from whatever joe schmoe was growing in his garage) was probably being brought in by the train, and the harder shit like the coke was being brought in by private plane out on the airstrip. Remember the incident Dana had out there? Dunno ...

by not sure
Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:49 pm
Forum: just the facts
...Several people said they had heard there was supposed to be a drug drop from the train that went wrong. What if one of the kids happened upon something dropped from the train, took it home or hid it and then the owners came looking for it? Might explain Justin telling them to look "down by the river" for Tina.

by jhancock
Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:30 pm
Forum: excerpts from case files
Marty's interview with DOJ - complete transcript
... a piece of wood, came back in, I didn't notice anything. Crim: Just nice and quiet? Smartt: Quiet, as a matter a fact, usually about that time, a train is going by, I didn't notice the train, then go to sleep. Very peaceful and quiet, I can't think of anything. Bradley: Of that crowd that was ... {{THIS ONE SEEMS PARTICULARLY INTERESTING}}

by not sure
Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:03 pm
Forum: open to speculation
Re: Tina Helping POI/the killers?
... Justin's insistence that Tina could be found down by the river. Several people in the area stated they believed there was a drug drop from the train happening that night and I often wondered if the kids saw, or intervened with, the drop. It would explain the superficial wounds, aka threatening ...

Wed May 25, 2011 9:47 pm
Forum: just the facts
Re: The Back Bridge
... pictures of Keddie and the Projects is the way it was when I first learned about Keddie as a child. My sister and I would come up on the midnite train and spend a couple of months in the summer up in that area. My aunt and uncle(who was dad's brother) worked for the WPRR there in Keddie. This ...

by Catchthekiller
Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:29 pm
Forum: introduce yourself here
I live in Sacramento proper and have a Scary Neighbor who cannot discuss anything but this Murder. So after a few of the female neighbors who are approached regularly by this guy, and each time this guy picks up right back where he last stopped talking about this story. Anyways, so i have been researching this case only to find out if my neighbor possible matches any of the criteria for who committed this horrible crime. I have DNA samples from the neighbor and a acking suspision that this could be who police and profilers are looking for. Screams into thin air, Cuses for no reason, sloppy in appearance, Horder of belongings, Writes scary messages on the fence to his house, is 66 years of age. Apparently completely obsessed with Trains, and Keddie i guess was a very popular location to come in by train. I just wanted to start there it is.

by klemspad
Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:27 am
Forum: introduce yourself here
.. I do remember, however, that people I talked to about the murders thought that the killer was an out of town transient. They thought the transient was either hitchhiking through the area or a train jumper who got off in Keddie and quickly fled after the murders. I think it is safe to say that the people I talked to didn't have a clue...

by meankitty
Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:04 pm
Forum: pieces of evidence
Silveria article.
... Pettit Jr., 39, in Millersburg, Ore., Silveria has reportedly confessed to murders throughout the West. Also, Silveria claims he killed a man on a train while passing through Shasta County in October and dumped the corpse in a body of water - probably Lake Shasta. Shasta County authorities have ..

by coffee is love
Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:05 pm
Forum: open to speculation
Re: Tommy Lynn Sells
he could have taken her on the train if it was passing through. easy way out. and there is no definite time for how long she was kept alive.

by ache
Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:50 am
Forum: open to speculation
Topic: This might be dumb...
..I'm not sure if many of you have local knowledge (pretty sure it won't be you Ausgirl), but I'm interested in knowing if the murderers could have jumped a freight train during the night? I have no idea if the trains slow or stop close to Keddie but according to railway maps I've looked at, the railway that runs by Keddie also runs through the Feather Falls area and up to Klamath Falls. Could they have taken Tina onto a freight train and thrown her out somewhere remote in the region of Feather Falls?

Topic: #88 on the timeline

by meankitty » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:22 pm
As far as I know, I don't think anyone has ever addressed this entry in the timeline, and it's interesting in light of the what I've heard about railroad workers staying in Keddie.

88. Anonymous caller advised that he heard that a railroad worker and another subject went to Keddie from Livermore. Anonymous caller further advises that the railroad worker and friend then went to the Sharp house and "started playing a game" with the Sharp's and Dana and then tied them up. Reported to Crim.

by Night Rider » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:26 pm
Ever heard of "hearsay" ?? It doesn't get any better than that. And second hand at that.
We've heard a lot about Livermore, I was once told a real good one, by Jesse.
Many of the WP people went away after July 31, 1978, when Fourth Sub run thrus were initiated. That eliminated about 16 train crew positions.
By the way, when was this call reported to have been made?

by meankitty » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:29 pm
I didn't see any time when this call was made. And yes, it's hearsay, like the entry about the fight with 2 Indians.

by jhancock » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:47 am
The two people referred to in that timeline entry were Chuck W. and Henry T.


by Night Rider
Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:55 pm
Forum: open to speculation
Topic: Intended victim
...I also discount the train drop story. question: WHY?? Why go to such an elaborate scheme for a simple drug movement? There could be a reason: Heat?? DK wasn't thinking clearly in his response. I've figured out an easy way for it to have been done, provided it was a lightweight shipment. And the other three guys would never have figured it out...

by not sure
Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:12 pm
Forum: open to speculation
Topic: Intended victim
..I keep wondering about what some people from the area have said about the rumor that there was to be a drug drop from the train that night. Mrs Meeks mentioned it and others had mentioned it in the past.
Could it be a possibility that someone from the Sharp family or close to them "saw" something, I mean, like witnessed something going down and needed to be silenced? Could one of the kids, or Tina, or even Sue have stumbled on....well, you know what I mean.
I was thinking, what if one of the kids found a package and, not necessarily knowing what it was, hid it somewhere. Then the people who were expecting the package came looking for it...

by jhancock
Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:43 pm
Forum: watch available clips and order part one of the documentary here
Topic: Movie trailer
..Scott Lawson, curator of the Plumas County museum in Quincy, speaks during the slow zoom of the Keddie train schedule.... {(@Josh-- do you have that schedule?)}
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Re: Trains

Postby azucena » Thu May 03, 2012 7:40 am

It was pretty common for people to jump on/off trains in Keddie, and there were areas around keddie where "hobos " etc were known to camp out, hiching into Quincy to get food, supplies etc, and would stay for short periods before hitting the rails again. Some of these guys were pretty down and out...

I don't think it is unreasonable to assume drugs were coming off the trains
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 9:40 am ... olved.html

03-24-2012, 09:04 AM
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When I lived outside of Paradise, we rock climbed up in the Feather River Canyon. From our lofty vantage we could look down on the freight trains toiling up the canyon. On weekends it was common to see people the hopper cars, sitting in lawn chairs, drinking beer.

People would hop the Western Pacific Railway in Oroville and ride the train up to Keddie Camp, hop off, and get into a waiting car to go back down to the valley.

The story was that the owner of Western Pacific had no problem with people hopping the freights up the canyon, as he had ridden the rails as a young man.
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 9:46 am

Derailed in Portola

Another stuffy evening in Sacramento. The downtown is dormant, as it usually is after the Capitol egos and businesspeople retire to their easeful ranch-style homes in the suburbs. Moving purposefully up 21st Street, heading for the old Western Pacific Railyard, the street is illuminated by the halogen headlights of hurried automobiles, while colorful flowing neon lights advertising Cold Beer, Cigarettes and Money Orders create an inner-city ambience of reality. Passing the Press Club I nod "hello" to the blurry-eyed smokers exiled from their weekend residence

There is something magical surrounding the walk through a hometown, pack strapped securely on your back, determined to embark on a journey where your name is misplaced and your home becomes wherever. Re-adjusting the load-straps of my pack, I pick up the pace focusing only on the sounds of one foot after the other.

The South Sacramento Railyard at night is a barren desert of railcars, whores turning tricks and taggers working intently on their next masterpiece. Spent paint cans, broken bottles and cardboard dot the landscape, creating a reminder of those who had blown in on previous storms. Several strings of cars are "tied-down" for the weekend with the yard being used sparingly for storage and a siding.

I take up temporary residence on the back of an idle grain car, sitting patiently, swigging ice beer and wondering "how long until a train going east will slow or better yet, stop on the "siding" or "main," shit who cares I have more beer." In the distance I make out the headlight of an eastbound train bearing down on the yard. I begin to slowly pack-up my temporary lodging in hopes that this would be "the train."

"Not just any old train, but "the train," I silently muse. "The one which would wisk me through cities, float across fallow fields and ultimately enter the mellow green forests... 'blowin' a hole in the wind.'"

Lurking motionless in the shadows of empty rail-cars as the train draws near, I stare vacantly into the headlight. With the train rumbling nearer it becomes apparent that this will not be my ride and seconds later the train explodes by leaving only the heavy odor of diesel exhaust.

Slightly discouraged I return to my former home (the grain car) and begin to pick at a loaf of bread, gazing at what stars could be made out through the haze which blankets the Central Valley of California in the summer. Lost in the moment was a westbound entering the yard, ultimately grinding to a halt on the siding. I took this as a positive sign and once again packed up my thoughts and belongings, crossing over several dormant tracks and clambering over the loitering westbound. Safely across the westbound I positioned myself on a vacant loading dock.

The loading dock was a remnant of a time passed. Years prior it was undoubtedly teaming with merchandise, waiting patiently to be delivered on the old Western Pacific via faraway Oroville, Winnemucca and Salt Lake City, where it would greet "Uncle Pete" for a jaunt to Omaha and points east. Voices of mischievous, weathered box car loaders, telling unspeakable jokes, while wondering if the Solons would make the playoffs, have now been replaced by a few scavenging rats and one silent traveler.

My hunch or semblance of one was validated when an eastbound train, braking hard, entered the yard. As the burly, pulsating locomotives passed, I began to survey the train for a ride... all "piggies." I debated on letting the train pass, but with the hour approaching 2:00am, and desiring sleep, I tossed my pack on the deck of a car and scrambled to the front, slithering between the bulky tires. The westbound on the siding blew the "highball," while the engineer of my ride pumped air the length of the short (approximately 40 cars) train. With a crack and a bang the train lurched forward, easing out of the yard while rapidly gaining speed. We pushed through downtown Sacramento and I looked yearnfully at my beacon porch light promising to return home by Sunday. Once safely past the suspect eyes of local do-gooders I dove into my pack emerging with my sleeping bag. As I smoked my final cigarette before bed, I was overwhelmed with excitement, knowing that I would view the Feather River Canyon in the sublime morning light. I crawled into my sleeping bag and looked skyward imagining Woody Guthrie staring back and shouting "Take it easy... but take it!" With much warmth I fell asleep...

I awoke in Oroville with the train creeping through the small but stacked yard. I saw no activity as well as no reason to be awake and drifted back to sleep, rocking rhythmically on the same tracks which once carried Chicago bound passengers aboard the WP's Zephyr train. Throughout the pre-dawn hours the train climbed the gently foothill grades, occasionally taking the siding for seemingly more important, but less impressive trains.

About twenty rail miles outside of Keddie, I awoke to the sun peaking over the Northern Sierras. I pulled myself from the simulated environment of my sleeping bag and was greeted by the crisp, almost caffeine like morning air. I laced up my boots and marveled at the jagged canyon carved by the once feral Feather River. Rooting through "my bag of tricks," I found a semi-cool can of ice beer and toasted the tramps who had ridded before, as well as humanity in general.

Upon approaching the Keddie Wye my train began to slow and I was rewarded with a clear view of three pristine BNSF units hauling general merchandise. Off to my left was an incredible view of the river below. We picked up speed after passing the once bustling (with people) Keddie.

Passing the town of Quincy I looked at the steam-belching Sierra Pacific sawmill and felt at home. Although not a friend of the timber industry, I grew up on the North Coast of California, a place where men and women sweated hard for a five dollar bill... and I will never forget them or their spirit for life.

With Quincy fading into the distance I began to pack my sleeping bag, wistfully yearning for a hot cup of coffee and a good stretch. Rolling through a lush meadow outside of Portola, I spied a lonely buck staring at the train from a distance. Being the first "acknowledging living creature" I had seen in hours, I gave a hearty "How do ya do," laughing silently and wondering if the "old man" understood.

At the outskirts of Portola I once again moved out of sight. The train was a short one, approximately 40 cars and I brazenly decided to ride it into the small, compact Portola yard. At 8:30am we ground to a halt in gorgeous Portola, California - Yee fuckin' hah!

Throwing my pack on, I hastily scurried from the yard. The city streets were "bustling" with proud parents and little leaguers entering a community building for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. I pushed my way through the crowd like a Hollywood Celebrity and crossed the overpass, landing on the main drag of Portola, Highway 70.

I crossed the main drag, paying little attention to the three Highway Patrol cars parked in front of the local eatery, and headed for the Sentry Market. Entering the parking lot I had one thing on my mind: food and beverage.

Upon entering the store with pride and purpose, I was greeted with a bellowing... "You can't bring that pack in here!"

The voice came from a barrel chested middle-aged man.

"Sorry sir (maybe overkill)... where can I put it," I swallowed.

"I don't care, just not in the store," he replied.

"Bite me, I am not a thief," I mumbled underneath my breath, exiting the store to find a clerk sweeping the walkway.

"Would you be willing to watch my pack," I politely asked the busy clerk.

"Sure," he replied, cheerfully removing the "edge" of his employer. "Nobody is going to take it around here, though."

"Thanks," I squeaked.

I re-entered the store heading straight to the produce aisle, picking out several apples. I walked to the front of the store asking the clerk if he had any bulk granola... hey it was worth a try.

He replied "no," so I settled on some pre-fabricated cereal bars. Moving towards the cooler I looked frantically for something "fortified," but was out of luck and settled for the heavily caffeinated Mountain Dew. With supplies in hand I traveled cautiously to the check-out counter, for the first time becoming obsessed with my diesel and dirt aroma.

"Been traveling," the middle-aged man asked with beer and Lucky Strike breath.

"Oh yeah... traveling," I answered, piercing his preconceived notions with my blue eyes.

"I've done some traveling," he said, while placing my apples on a seemingly antiquated, but working, scale.

"Great, how much do I owe you," I enquired... surprised at my directness.

"Sure is nice day today, a little chilly last night, but should warm up nice," he said, oblivious to my question.

I paid the morning-drunk clerk, walking past the staring stock clerk and returning to my stoic upright backpack. I put the groceries at the top of my pack, adjusted the load straps and headed back to the yard.

Now I was set to spend the morning sitting under an overpass reading, smoking and waiting for a train. Scampering down the steep embankment I settled on a nice piece of cardboard, reading the "tags" of previous tramps.

The yard was crowded with several westbound trains "made-up" waiting for crews. I stayed put enjoying the coolness of the morning mountain air. In hindsight I probably should have found a ride on a long, mixed-freight changing crews on the "main." But I was in no great hurry to get home.

About this time, two Plumas County Sheriff patrol cars entered the yard. Not wanting to be seen I stayed still, but felt concealed. The patrol cars circled the yard obviously looking for someone. I felt sorry for the poor soul who they were looking for but felt secure. The patrol cars turned to exit the yard when the second car whipped around and sped toward ME... PUBLIC ENEMY NUMERO UNO - fuckin' great, but no problem. Preparing myself mentally for an imminent questioning I took a deep breath.

Slamming the car into "park," a short, clean-cut, country cop emerged, marching rather smartly towards me.

"Do you realize you are trespassing on the railroads property," he sternly shouted.

"No," I said, in truth because I thought I was off the property.

I stood up upon being ordered and interlaced my fingers being my head, waiting for the pat down.

"Do you have any I.D.," he asked while working his hands across my body.

"Yeah somewhere in my pack," I said.

With this he handcuffed me and placed me in the back of his patrol car.

"Uh, am I under arrest?" I questioned.

"Yes," he emphatically replied.

"For what? Sitting under a bridge?," I asked.

"No sir - 369i PC - Trespassing on the Railroads Property," he gleefully chimed, quite proud that he had captured such a menace to society.

The deputy waddled over to my backpack, dumping its 5000 cubic inches of contents on ground. Over the radio I heard him call in my I.D. Within a few seconds the dispatcher replied that my license was current and I had no warrants.

"Good," I thought, "he will give me a ticket and show me the highway."

The deputy placed the contents of my backpack into their place and put the pack in the trunk of his car.

"Fuck this place," I thought.

Returning to the car, he started it up and we proceeded out of the rail yard.

"Where are we going?" I asked, almost certain that I was being driven to the middle of nowhere, where I would be shot by the power hungry cop.

"Quincy," he said.

So now I am in the back of a late model Ford heading for Quincy. The deputy tuned the radio to a Country and Western Station and began asking me a slew of "Why would you" questions. Although the questions were entertaining, I decided to attempt to steer the conversation away from freight hopping and to a more pertinent topic - the poisoning of the local lake (Davis) by the State Department of Fish and Game. Surprised at my knowledge of the situation the Deputy perked up and we began to communicate.

We pulled into the Plumas County Jail at lunch time. The jail was supposedly full, which I was excited to hear, believing that if full I would be released immediately. After being "buzzed" in through the back door, I began the official "shakedown." Off with the clothes, more questions asked, on with the ugly green outfit, take a picture, and placed in a lovely concrete chamber. After all of this I was given two choices, if I had the means I could bail-out, if not then I would rot in the jail until Wednesday when I could see the judge. Being that it was Saturday, I decided to bail-out.

Bail was set at $1000.00, meaning that to get out without assistance I would have to pay the money. The other option was a bail bondsman, which would cost me $1100.00 of which a thousand would be refunded at the time of my court date. I took the second option and began a three hour quest to find somebody, anybody to come bail me out.

After an eternity I finally arranged to get out. Feeling quite elated after arranging my first bail-out, I turned to the Corporal sitting behind the glass partition and said "I am outta here." She chuckled and asked me if I really wanted to bail-out? The question caught me off guard and I stared blankly at her.

"Well I was thinking that I would just cite and release you, being that it is the end of my shift." She said.

"Cite and Release" why hadn't we discussed this earlier. Why couldn't we had done that before I was forced to eat a crappy spam sandwich with some cosmic, powdered drink? Why, Why, Why?

"I would really appreciate that." I said, humbly smiling.

The Corporal filled out the ticket and handed it to me, leading me to a room where I could reorganize my back-pack and then showed me to the road. I was free.

In the end I returned to Quincy a month later for court. The judge and DA had a chuckle over my adventure. Upon asking how I plead, I replied "Guilty," and was sentenced to "time served" in the County Jail. No fine, but a decent lecture... with the judge finishing with "don't get off in Portola."
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 9:49 am

This is what happened on my first train trip --Mark

I decided to try and go from Stockton, CA to Portola, CA, after
hearing that it was a fairly easy weekend trip. I live in the SF Bay
Area. So I drove to the Emeryville Amtrak station and parked my car
there, and took Amtrak out to Stockton. From the Stockton station you
walk 1/4 mile or so east down the tracks to Stockton Tower, where the
ATSF/Amtrak tracks cross over SP and UP tracks. SP and UP have yards
just south of the tower, with plenty of north/south traffic. I walked
by Stockton tower (it was a Saturday morning) and there were "railfans"
lounging outside the tower watching trains. BTW, this is not a great
area to be in at night.

I waited at the north end of the UP yard near the piggyback/stack
loading area for about 3 hours, because it looked like they were going
to load up a train. I use a scanner, so I was listening to the UP
channels. Whenever a train wants to leave the SP or UP yards heading
north (across the ATSF tracks), they have to call up Stockton Tower
and get permission to cross. So as I was sitting there around 5pm
I heard something like "UP train STPCT calling Stockton Tower for
permission to leave". I got out my California Region Timetable
booklet by Altamont Press and turned to the UP train decoder page,
which gave the source and destination as STockton to PoCatella
(Idaho). Actually, it wouldn't have mattered much, since all UP
trains leaving Stockton going north go to Salt Lake City at least (I

So anyways this real long mixed freight train with 3 or 4 shiny UP
engines starts pulling out of the yard and running through the stack
area, doing about 5mph. I waited and finally near the end of the
train I spotted 4 closed hoppers coming up. I ran over to catch the
train, tossed my bag up onto the back, and climbed aboard!
Unfortunately, being nervous and such, I had picked the end of the car
with the brake equipment, so all I could do was sit in the little V
area in the middle of the car. This was OK since I was paranoid about
being spotted until we got out of the yard.

About 45 minutes after rolling out of Stockton, we pulled off at a
siding and stopped. I poked my head out and looked forward, and
saw someone else's head sticking out of a car just ahead of mine!
Turns out he had hopped on the train at Stockton too, but had been
waiting deep in the yard for it. Anyways I moved to the other side
of the car where I had a lot more room to sit down without the
brake stuff in the way. We sat there for about 30 minutes waiting
for another train to pass, so I called up a few friends on my
cellphone to tell them about the trip so far! The ride so far had
been pretty noisy (maybe an empty hopper?) so I made earplugs from
some tissue paper for the remainder of the ride.

Then we got moving again and zipped along pretty fast all the way to
Oroville, at the base of the Sierras. It was just getting dark around
this time, and I had a feeling I was in for some cold ahead as we
went up into the mountains. At Oroville, we stopped in the yard, right
off the mainline, and I heard the engines decouple. About 5 minutes
later a stack train passed by us on the way to Portola. We sat in
the yard for about an hour. I think they may have added or deleted
a few cars from the train. Finally we got back underway.

The ride up the Feather River Canyon was great at first. However, it
got *COLD* quickly. By 11pm I had on two jackets and was still
freezing. My sneakers didn't even insulate my feet from the cold
steel floor. For the next 6 hours(!), the train would zip along
pretty fast, then stop at a siding for about 15-30 minutes, to let
traffic in the other direction pass, then run for 30 minutes, then
stop, over and over again. It was a busy night!

We finally got to Keddie at like 3am. There, we stopped and I think
they changed crews. I had been expecting the crew change to happen at
Portola, so I was a little concerned about whether the train would
stop when we finally got there. Along the ride to Portola, I noticed
another train not to far off the side in the darkness. The engine was
heading right towards our train! It then passed over us, pratically
right over the car I was on. I couldn't figure this out, because I
knew there were no other tracks in the area! It was weird!

We finally got to Portola at around 6am. I only knew I was there
because I saw "portola" written on a signal box when we entered
the yard. I hopped off, and the train took off a few seconds
later. We had only stopped for a minute or two. I walked around
town for a few miles and finally found a room in a motel.

I got up around 1pm, had breakfast, and walked over to the Portola
Train museum. It is a very large museum and there are lots of engines,
cabooses, and such that you can climb in and walk around on. Exploring
the engines was pretty neat. I was too tired to go home Sunday so I
stayed another night to rest up.

Monday I got up early and got to the yard at 10am. I sat under the
bridge at the east end of the yard. I heard on my scanner that they
were doing track maintenance and nothing was coming though till the
afternoon, so I went back to town, got some sandwiches and such for
the trip back, and got back to the yard around 1pm.

While I was waiting a switchman came out under the bridge to switch
a few tracks. I heard on my scanner something was coming in heading
west. I asked him about it and he told me it was going to be a slow
train, and would probably sit in the yard a while because it hadn't
been called to even leave Portola yet. However, he mentioned a stack
train would be coming in within an hour and that I should catch that
instead :)

I told him about the cold night I had on the way up the day before.
He said "if I were you I would hide out across from the yard office,
and when the stack comes in and they switch crews, I would get in the
back unit and hide out in the bathroom till it leaves the yard. It
would be a lot warmer. Yep, thats what I would do (wink wink)".
He told me this about 3 times during our conversation. Turns out
the stack came in about 15 minutes later. It only had 2 units and
about 50 container/well cars. The switchman directed me in front
of the engine of an eastbound waiting train to catch my flight out.

However it was only 2pm and warm out and the train only had 2 units,
so I took a good seat in a well car, about 7 cars back from the
engines. It was much more pleasant than the back of the hopper. This
train moved slower through the canyon than the one I took up, but it
didn't stop at all. On the way back during the day, I finally
realized that the mystery train I had seen the night before was
actually the front of my own train, as we went around "Williams Loop"!
We went all the way to Stockton in 7 hours, only stopping twice for
about 5 minutes. Between Oroville and Stockton we were probably doing
70+ most of the time.

I decided to stick with the train all the way back to Oakland, since
otherwise I would have to wait 2 hours for Amtrak. At Stockton, I
laid low while they did some switching, feeling the train moving back
and forth a bit. Then I heard the power cut out! I was warned they
might leave the back end of the train behind and take the rest to
Oakland, but I was only 7 cars back from the engine, on a train of 50
or so. I peeked out of the car and found that my string only had
about 10 cars on it; the rest of the train was on the next track over
and the engine had just hooked up to it. So I ran down the other
track and found a new seat for the ride to Oakland.

Unfortunately, it took 3-4 more hours to Oakland, due to 2 long stops
along the way. It was fun riding through Altamont Pass and Niles
Canyon where I drive along the tracks many times. I jumped off as we
went by Jack London Square (doing about 10-15mph), since I didn't want
to have to walk all the way back from the yards. I called a taxi (on
my cellphone, a handy train hopping accessory) and got a ride back to
my car at Emeryville (I woulda been better off taking Amtrak back from
Stockton, considering the taxi cost $15, compared to the $1 Amtrak
return ticket, and the train ended up being an hour later than Amtrak)

Anyways, I had a great time and learned a few things that will help me
prepare for my next trip:) One project I am going to start working
on is a WWW area for train hopping info.

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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 9:58 am (lots of photos)

Wouldn't be a train thread without a post about Silveria: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource. ... ug=2318289 Sunday, March 10, 1996 -
Train Hopper Suspected Of Slaying Dozen Or More By Rich Harris AP :
"We landed in a small town called Keddie, a railroad town where they build the first railroad going across the country. It was named for a surveyor, Authur Keddie, who surveyed the railroad that cut through the Sierra Mountains in Plumas County in the early 1900s. The town only had a grocery store and a post office. It was originally made up of Chinese people who were working for the railroad. They laid the first tracks, build trestles and dug tunnels for the Western Pacific Railroad as different railroads were racing across the country over time.

When we arrived we found this little shack were we camped for the night. We later learned that two years earlier a brutal murder had occurred in a campsite nearby- a mother, two children, a teenage boy and a family friend – all killed.

Bob and I lived in Keddie for a month or two We talked to the troops and found out that the trains from all directions came through here, so we decided to go to Salt Lake City for a while on a sidetrack. We lived in the middle boxcar, Mexicans lived in the first one, and the old man lived in the third one. In Salt Lake we picked up cans for 37 cents a pound and always found food in the city. It was fun! I met all different kinds of people that were riding the trains and working on ranches. I got tired of being in the city, so we caught a freight train in Salt Lake City, which was going to Keddie.

When we arrived in Keddie, Bob and I set up camp on Spanish Creek. People who live on the river are called “River Rats.” River rats are made up of a group that lives outside of society. Your average person would not be found there.... " "In the meantime, I left Bob because he got involved in drugs and ended up killing a man. He went to prison and I came back from California to Hendersonville and stayed with my brother for about a month...."
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Thu May 03, 2012 6:49 pm

Modesto Bee, June 21, 1982, "Second in a five-part series on lawlessness in California". Be sure to check out the map on page 3. ... 37,3246679
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Fri May 04, 2012 8:31 pm

Some thoughts, poorly organized, but put here in hope of fueling further brain-storming:

The train comes into Keddie from Salt Lake via Nevada, then continues on to Oakland. Perfect drug running route.


Marty's interview with DOJ - complete transcript
PAGES 7 and 8
Smartt: Then I went to bed and woke up again around 3:00, stoke the fire.

Crim: Nothing unusual woke you up, you just...

Smartt: Matter of habit. I always wake up around 3:00 or 3:30, stoke the fire. I got up, ya know, checked the house, and ah, stoked the fire, and ah, matter of fact, I opened the door and went outside and got a piece of wood, came back in, I didn't notice anything.

Crim: Just nice and quiet?

Smartt: Quiet, as a matter a fact, usually about that time, a train is going by, I didn't notice the train, then go to sleep. Very peaceful and quiet, I can't think of anything.

Bradley: Of that crowd that was in the bar, those two were the only ones looked out of place?


Why mention a train that *didn't* wake you up? He raise the topic of the train seemingly only to distance himself from it.


88. Anonymous caller advised that he heard that a railroad worker and another subject went to Keddie from Livermore. Anonymous caller further advises that the railroad worker and friend then went to the Sharp house and "started playing a game" with the Sharp's and Dana and then tied them up. Reported to Crim.


Several people, including Mrs Meeks, mentioned the rumor about something going on that night involving the train.

The train ran to and from Oakland, was notoriously easy to hop, and according to a few of the first hand accounts I posted here, the railroad workers on the Pacific Western line were know to even be helpful to freight-hoppers at times.

It would be so easy to use the train to transport drugs that it would be crazy to take the risk of using a vehicle.

It doesn't make sense for anyone to be bringing pot into Keddie, just in terms of supply and demand. Smuggling it OUT to Oakland would make more sense. Or smuggling something else IN from Oakland.


The drug trade in the area was growing increasingly violent. In the Modesto Bee series, law enforcement spoke of areas, especially in/near the national forests, where the growers were completely in control, totally running the show, and resorting to extreme violence to keep it that way.


Were some of the odd-ball cast of characters that were in Keddie that night there because they were waiting for something?


"Tell them where the dope is, Meeks!"

Tell WHO where the dope is? Marty knows dope is missing. He believes Wade knows where it is and that someone is still looking for it.


What are some possible scenarios that would involve the train and drugs and someone getting pissed off enough at Sue or Johnny and Dana to torture and terrorize them?

Were some of the seemingly random people in Keddie that night, there because they knew something was supposed to be happening? Normally I don't think a crowd would be invited to assemble at a drug drop, but maybe several people were meant to divvy it up?

It would be interesting to know if another train passed through town at the time Marty, Bo and Marilyn left the bar for awhile.

One theory that has been floated is that Johnny & Dana could have stumbled across the shipment and hid it somewhere, but I don't see how that could have happened if the shipment was coming in that night and people were waiting for it. I highly doubt that packages were just tossed off the train. Some kind of hand off would have to occur, as well as exchange of money. But they might have been involved with something that happened to a previous shipment. Maybe the thing Dana said he'd witnessed that he wasn't supposed to see.
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Re: Trains

Postby frida » Sat May 05, 2012 12:38 pm

Good catch on Marty mentioning that train Ches! Just like his "missing" hammer and his voluntary description of how he would have done the crime (go in there and blam, blam, blam). Marty was friends with Wade Meeks--was Wade privy to information about Marty/Bo/whoever's product coming in on said trains? Did Marilyn know and clue Wade in? Did Wade and Marilyn intercept something that was meant for Marty/Bo/whoever and blame Dana and John? Was Marty yelling at Wade about the whereabouts of said "dope" his way of telling Wade he knew that he (Marty) had been misdirected in the direction of Sue and the boys? "I got her and I'll get you in the same way Meeks"--

Marilyn's assertion that Marty hated Johnny and said he would break his hands is awfully specific of a threat--why break his hands? Because he thought those hands had taken something they shouldn't have? Why not say, "I'd like to kick his punk ass" or something like that? Why specifically mention his hands?

Then Marty's love letter to Marilyn after the murders where he says he paid for her love with four lives and that he doesn't care about what's happened that they can start over--is he forgiving Marilyn not only for leaving him and running off with Wade but also for sending him after the Sharps and ripping him off?

It has been said that Sue was the most brutalized of the victims and thus the target of all the rage but I don't think we can discount how much plain old misogyny played into her brutalization. We know Marty was contemptuous of women--we know he was violent to them. In my opinion Sue was already an object of rage because she was female. She was also petite and dark haired (Marty's type). Anything else she did--real or imagined---to Marty would have been fuel for the fire. Hurting her to get information from the boys, hurting her for "protecting" the boys--both would have gone hand in glove with the way he felt about and treated women.
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Re: Trains

Postby Ausgirl » Sat May 05, 2012 4:46 pm

Did Wade and Marilyn intercept something that was meant for Marty/Bo/whoever and blame Dana and John? Was Marty yelling at Wade about the whereabouts of said "dope" his way of telling Wade he knew that he (Marty) had been misdirected in the direction of Sue and the boys? "I got her and I'll get you in the same way Meeks"--

I've looked very, very hard at that scenario in the past. And still have not ruled it out.
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Re: Trains

Postby dmac » Mon May 07, 2012 10:44 am

What if Johnny just flipped him off? That would be enough for Marty's over-reaction and choice of words. And sustained anger / hatred.
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Re: Trains

Postby Eastern » Mon May 07, 2012 2:29 pm

I could see that. Cutting his throat because he mouthed off to him, too?

I think the odd thing they did was strangling Dana. Not sure what to think of that.
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Sat May 12, 2012 3:53 pm

I've seen the Silveira confession debunked elsewhere on this board (although if I remember correctly, there is no solid proof regarding the exact dates he was in jail in 1981), but what if Marty and Bo (and who ever else was involved) had connection with other members of the FTRA? I'm going to compile some info about the group in this thread, but I'm just starting to research them, and some of you likely know a lot more, so I'm hoping you'll add to this.
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Sat May 12, 2012 3:55 pm

From :

The Freight Train Riders of America

Where getting railroaded is even more ominous than it sounds

By Richard Valdemar -

November 30, 2007

In the late 1980s, my LASD surveillance team was requested by the Sheriff's Homicide to assist in staking out the turf of a gang known as the FTRA or Freight Train Riders of America. Their turf was trains and train right-of-ways from Seattle, Wash., to Mexico. It seemed that a serial killer was murdering hobos who rode the rails and camped in outdoor hobo jungle camps along the railroad tracks throughout the Southwest.

The victim vagabonds were commonly shot in the head at close range with a small caliber pistol while they slept in homeless encampments at night. The suspect had to be one of them, because he knew the camps and was apparently able to closely approach these wary travelers for a point blank shot to the head. Many of the victims were physically handicapped in some way. The unknown serial killer had earned the moniker "Bum Blaster." Profiles of the serial killer suggested that he was a "mercy killer" who felt sorry for the poor homeless transients and effectively put them out of their misery. Others suggested that he was a cold blooded "thrill killer" who preyed on the most vulnerable victims, knowing that nobody would demand justice in their behalf, or even miss them.

My surveillance team was assigned to covertly monitor some of these camps of sleeping transients to prevent any further murders in Los Angeles and to watch for any suspicious activity.

Wanderlust and Rail Buffs

There are people who love trains and everything to do with them. Behind the County Jail in downtown Los Angeles there are railroad yards where cars are switched and locomotive engines pull in to refuel and do maintenance. Early in my career, I had run into these train enthusiasts, known locally as "the train freaks," while patrolling the perimeter of the jail. They could recite the name, origin, and destination of every train passing through the L.A. yards. They could even tell you the scheduled arrival and departure times. Sometimes they took photographs of the more famous engines.

This is when I first heard about the FTRA. Like the muffled whispers about the "Black Hand" of the Mafia in the Italian community, these "train freaks" whispered of a gang of outlaws that lived to ride the freight trains in the West. They were robbers, burglars, and hijackers with colorful names. Cross one of their members and they would get you. These were desperate and dangerous men. At the time, this "Homicidal Hobos" idea seemed a little far out for me to take too seriously. After all, we dealt with some of L.A.'s most dangerous local gangs. But I became a believer after the Bum Blaster case.

During our nighttime surveillances, I saw the signs of the passing of Freight Train Riders under railroad overpasses, switching yards, and along the tracks on boxcars, switching boxes, and lean-to buildings. Strange monikers, swastikas, lightning bolts, and the letters FTRA, FTW (F--- the World), STP (Start the Party or Stone Tramp People), and ATAPAW (Any Time, Any Place, Anywhere) could be seen mixed among the tagger and traditional gang graffiti. They leave their messages in signs and FTRA graffiti to let fellow FTRA members know that they were there, and possibly where they were last headed.

People who abandon our normal American way of life and society do so for a reason. Who would choose to sleep along the tracks and live in this underground world to ride the dangerous freight cars? They are loners, and many are alcoholics, the mentally ill, drug addicts, and outlaws on the run. They live by panhandling, selling scrap, and through criminal activities like petty theft, burglary, identity theft, and food stamp and welfare fraud. They carry weapons like clubs and canes, knives and pistols. And whether they are the witnesses or suspects, they can disappear by catching the next freight train out. The FTRA are the most predatory of this lot.

Nomadic Terrors

Some railroad officials will deny that the FTRA exists at all. Some say it is an urban legend. But law enforcement investigators believe that the gang began in the early 1980s in a Montana bar. Started by a group of homeless and disgruntled Viet Nam veterans, the loosely knit original members were mostly white men who rode the famous "High Line," the name they gave to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Pacific rail road line (BNSP). They swore to watch their brother members' backs and to share their food, booze, and women. They had monikers like Pennsylvania Pollock, Desert Rat, Moose, Muskrat, Hotshit, Side Line, F-Troop, and women like Bubblehead.

Described by many as "bikers without bikes," members of the FTRA who ride the original "High Line" often identify themselves by wearing a black bandanna around their neck with a silver ring band. The FTRA "Southern Corridor" or the "Midwestern" lines, riders who ride the CSX out of Georgia or Kansas City Southern through Texas and Oklahoma, are more recent offshoots of the original gang. The "Southern Corridor" Freight Train Riders identify themselves by wearing red bandannas with silver rings. The "Midwest" FTRA identify with blue bandannas and silver rings. During the winter months many FTRA members migrate to warmer states, such as California and Arizona. FTRA members often posses several false identification documents for use in obtaining food stamps and committing welfare fraud. They will usually give false identifying information and deny they are members of the FTRA when asked by the police or railroad authorities.

Nationwide an estimated 30,000 homeless freight train hoppers annually "catch-out" somewhere on the 30,000 miles of railroad track. Beside the hobos, tramps, and carneys, there are a growing number of illegal immigrants and even entire migrant families. Recently it has become a fad for college students and young adventurous Yuppies to hop a freight car for "fun." Such activity is illegal, and is considered highly insulting to most train hoppers and especially offensive to the members of the FTRA. Many adventuring armatures have been robbed, beaten, or worse by genuine transients. Each year nearly one hundred deaths occur along the railroad lines. This number includes those transients who die of natural causes. But this number also includes those whose deaths are presumed accidental when the body is found after falling from or under the train and there are no eye witnesses to tell us differently. Finally, there are those who are the clearly the victims of foul play.

In the late 1980s, the FTRA began systematically stealing high value merchandise from the trains. They also began doing multiple burglaries around the train yards specifically targeting firearms. The Union Pacific Railroad reported taking more than 30 burglary reports a day at the Colton Yard in San Bernardino, Calif. Firearms and high value items could be sold for large profits in the underground drug cartels in Mexico. Some FTRA members formed associations with Mexican criminal groups to facilitate this trade. Members of the FTRA were also known to commit armed robberies near the railroad tracks and immediately hop a freight car out of town.

In 1996, a transient with the moniker of F-Troop was found in a boxcar on a Montana Rail line, shot in the head five times. His real name was Joseph Perrigo, a 30-year-old train hopper who wore an FTRA tattoo. Just one of the more than 1,000 transient train riders along the 1,500 miles of the High Line, he was the victim of fellow FTRA member Martin Moore, also known as Mississippi Bones. The murder was Bones' payback for F-Troop stabbing him more than a year before.

Death Tracks

According to retired police officer Bill Palmini, author of "Murder on the Rails," the most notorious murderer and FTRA member was Side Track, or Robert Silveria. His book describes how Spokane, Wash., Police Officer Bob Grandinetti had begun documenting the FTRA gang early in the 1980s. He closely followed a series of reported dead bodies along the High Line between Spokane and Sandpoint, Idaho. Many of the victims had their shirts and jackets pulled up around their heads and their pants pulled down. Bob Grandinetti didn't buy the railroad's explanations of accidental deaths.

After a freight train derailed west of Spokane, it was determined that the brake lines had been deliberately cut and that the suspect had been killed in the resulting crash. He was wearing the signature black bandanna and silver ring of the FTRA. Grandinetti compiled documentation on 800 known and suspected FTRA members and noted that in the1990s there were more than 300 unsolved murders along the rails. He suspects that many of these murders can be attributed to members of the FTRA, but the cases were especially hard to prove. In a "Stuff" magazine article by Christopher Ketcham (2/28/03) Grandinetti is quoted as saying, "The problem is the suspects and all the witnesses disappear."

Silveria was a scarecrow-looking heroin addict who had a tattoo of the word freedom on his throat. Eventually Side Track was connected to the FTRA and several of these unsolved railroad murders. He was featured on "America's Most Wanted" and dubbed the "Boxcar Killer" by the media. After his arrest, he confessed to a five-year nationwide murder spree ranging from Florida to California. One of his victims was college student Michael Garfinkle who was on a weekend odyssey when Side Track murdered him in a hobo jungle in the switching yard outside Emeryville, Calif. But mostly he preyed on the helpless homeless, killing them for their clothing and social security cards. Perhaps it was guilt that made him cover the faces of his victims with their clothing. He confessed to 14 of the unsolved murders.

Back in Los Angeles, my surveillance team was unable to cover all the hobo jungle camps, and the unknown railroad serial killer murdered another victim. He probably disappeared after the killing by "catching out" on an outbound freight train, but the LASD Homicide detectives were pretty sure they had identified a suspect. A few weeks later, they told us that their primary suspect had been killed in Mexico. Was he an FTRA member? We may never know, but the railroad murders in our area stopped.

Don't wait to be overwhelmed by the multiple burglary or robbery reports in and around the railroad tracks snaking across your jurisdiction. Don't wait for the lifeless unidentified body to be discovered in some tramp camp or boxcar one fine morning. Check the area for FTRA graffiti, photograph graffiti, learn the monikers and gang symbols, and stop to talk to vagrants and hobos. Watch for the FTRA gang, because the devil rides the rails.
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Re: Trains

Postby Cheshire » Sat May 12, 2012 4:14 pm

"Adman is pinning for the communal respect of yesteryear. His slogan this year is "Legit-with-Britt." He's taken on the role of the bad guy. "Personally I've kicked out about 8 or 9 bums this year." Most of those who were thrown out or arrested, including T, are unconfirmed members of a gang of railriders called the FTRA. Somewhere between 800 and 2,000 strong, FTRA, depending on who you ask, means "Fuck the Reagan Administration" or "Freight Train Riders of America." Many are unwilling to admit to being a part of the FTRA because of the bad press that has befallen this mysterious clan. Sidetrack, or Robert Joseph Silveria, who was first assumed to be an FTRA member but has recently claimed otherwise, committed a now-unknown count of murders on the rails, beating fellow transients to death with a goon stick. He's is now in jail serving two life sentences. Most of the hardcores, whether FTRA or not, are full-time riders. Decked out in camo and black, they often make camp under bridges and often prefer crystal meth (although they'll take any drug they can get their hands on) and booze to a day's work. They make money any way they can, scraping metal, selling dope, and running foodstamps. Many "legit" 'bos blame these derelicts for the tightening railyard security.

If Adman is the spokesman for the hobos in general, New York Slim is the undeclared voice of some 50 outcasts (some FTRA) at the convention. Standing at about 6'5", black (one of the few in a largely white population) with a salt-and-pepper beard and jaundiced-looking eyes, Slim had a better chance than most at a normal life. He earned a college basketball scholarship, but didn't keep up his grades and was drafted for Vietnam. After returning from several tours, including 26 months in a POW camp, Slim no longer fit in with his generation. He first hit the rails in 1976 to find his uncle, Butcherman, a hobo ..."
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