It was the railway system which moulded the American hobo into the legendary figure he became, especially in the depression years, but surviving until today. His origins, however, go back to the early pioneer days. He is in fact a unique and indigenous American product, 'capriciously used and discarded by a callous but dynamic system'. Revered and romanticized by some as the prototype of free man, he is hated and feared by others for his nonconformity. In order to trace the origins of the various types of hobo and their effect on American life, Kenneth Allsop travelled 9,000 miles across the continent, following old hobo routes, interviewing and researching as he went along.

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