Hobo Signs
    These Hobo Signs below, plus a large glossary of Hobo Terms are available in printed form in my book "The American Hoboes" "Riders of the Rails".  For information about this book, and how to acquire a copy, email me by clicking on the button below.

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For more fabulous, informative Hobo information use these links.
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Hobo Grapevine
 HoboLinks
Fran's Hobo Page
Hobo Gatherings



    There may be one or more signs that give the same message or, at times, there may be slightly different meanings for a sign.  This can be accounted for by the fact that they may have been used in far different sections of the country.  Not all Hoboes travelled the whole country as some Harvest Hoboes, for example, would just work up and down the west or east coast.  Just as a spoken language has it's own dialects and words for different areas a sign language would be the same.  Most of the signs shown here however are, or were, used throughout the whole country.  I have seen examlpes where some of the signs shown here were used in foriegn countries and had the same meanings so, although the signs are called "Hobo Signs", their origin could well have been from a past era.
 
 

More Hobo/Tramp Signs

    With so much Hobo and tramp history unrecorded all we can do is draw the best conclusions from what we are able to put together from bits and pieces of old documents that can still be found so, from my own experience, and studies, I believe these are tramp signs.  Notice, none of them mentions working for money or handouts.

 Key to Hobo / Tramp Signs Below


1. Main Street good for begging.  16. Cranky Woman or bad Dog. 
2. Rock Pile in connection with Jail. 17. People do not give. 
3. Saloons in Town.  18. Bad Man lives here. 
4. Prohibition Town.  19. Negro section good for Hoboes. 
5. Police are Hostile.  Look out.  20. Cooties in Jail. 
6. Police not Hostile to Tramps.  21. Good clean Jail. 
7. Police Hostile to Tramps.  22. Jail good but prisoners starve.
8. Leaving Railroad for Highway or 
   across country. 
23. Jail filthy. 
9. Railroad Police not Hostile. 24. City Police are in Plain Clothes. 
10. Railroad Police Hostile. 25. Workhouse in connection with Jail. 
11. Used in connection with any other 
  sign means next turn. 
26. Waiting in Town for Person Named, 
12. Church or Religious People.  27. Circle Town. 
13. Town is Hostile.  Get out Quick,  28. Jail good for night's Lodging, 
14. Main Street N. G.  29. Moniker (Name) and direction of travel.
15. Good People Live Here 30. New York Maggie