Hobo signs

This page lists all the various symbols in the Hobo signs category.

A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western (probably Northwestern) United States around 1890. Unlike "tramps"—who work only when they are forced to- and "bums" who do not work at all, "hobos" are itinerant workers.

It is unclear exactly when hobos first appeared on the American railroading scene. With the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s, many discharged veterans returning home began hopping freight trains. Others looking for work on the American frontier followed the railways west aboard freight trains in the late 19th century.

To cope with the difficulty of such a lifestyle, hobos developed a system of symbols, or a code. Hobos would write this code with chalk or coal to provide directions, information, and warnings to other hobos. Some signs included "turn right here", "beware of hostile railroad police", "dangerous dog", "food available here", and so on.

Symbols in this category:

Brutal people

A British hobo sign indicating that the people who live here are not good.

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Burgled

A French hobo sign saying that this dwelling has already been robbed.

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Campsite with fresh water

This hobo sign indicates a campsite that has access to fresh water.

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Can sleep here

Where this sign appears it means that you can sleep in the barn.

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Can sleep here (alternate version)

Where this sign appears it means that you can sleep in the barn.

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Chance of food

Although this symbol has several meanings, in the British system of hobo signs it indicates that the people here sometimes hand out food.

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Crime

Hobo sign in the United States, France an Sweden- a crime has been committed in this area and it is not safe for strangers.

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Danger

Where this sign is found, it means that that place is dangerous.

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Danger of arrest

In the British system of hobo signs, this symbol means that the people here will try to get you arrested, so beware.

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Dangerous inhabitants

A sign in both the Swedish and British hobo systems:

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Decent policeman

French hobo sign- the policeman in this area is all right.

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Defense

In the United States system of hobo signs, this symbol means that you should be ready to defend yourself.

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Do not enter

A French hobo sign indicating that there are traps inside this area and warning others to stay away.

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Dogs in the yard

A symbol from the French hobo system saying to beware of dogs.

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Dogs in the yard (French, version 2)

A sign saying to be careful, there are dogs around.

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"Hobo signs Symbols." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 18 Dec. 2018. <https://www.symbols.com/category/52>.

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