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:

Dogs in the yard (French, version 3)

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

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Don't say anything

A hobo sign that means don't talk to anyone.

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Dont' worry

Although this sign has astrological as well as meteorological significance, in the United States system of hobo signs, it means that people in the area leave hobos alone and there is no need to be afraid.

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Easy access or resistance

A hobo sign that has distinctly different meanings depending on the system in question.

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Evil people

French hobo sign- there are evil people living here.

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Food for work

A French hobo sign that indicates good work will be rewarded with food.

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Friendly people

A sign from the French hobo system meaning "here live friendly people".

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Fruit trees

A symbol from the British system of hobo signs. Where this mark appears, it mean that the garden contains fruit trees (a potential source of food).

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Get what you want

In the US system of hobo signs, this means "here you can get whatever you want"/"they will give you all you ask for".

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Go on this way

A symbol from the British and Swedish systems of hobo signs that indicates you should continue moving in this direction.

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Go this way

Although this symbol strongly resembles the traditional sign of Mars turned 45 degrees to the left, its meaning is very different.

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Go to Hell

Wherever this sign is placed, is means that the local people tell you to go to Hell.

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Good home

A French hobo sign indicating that this home is a good one. Its inhabitants are hospitable and generous.

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Good road

Strongly resembling the common symbol for a ban or prohibition, in the United States system of hobo signs, this mark indicates that the current road is a good one to follow.

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Help for the ill

A hobo sign in both France and Sweden.

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"Hobo signs Symbols." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 19 Oct. 2018. <https://www.symbols.com/category/52>.

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