I am indebted to the former boxcar boys and girls whose personal remembrances are at the core of this book. Many who put their memories down on paper in 1992 were already in their seventies and eighties. Many have taken their last ride in the intervening years. It was a rare privilege to journey back with them and stand for a moment in time in the boxcar door, rolling through the heart of America. May this book stand as a tribute to the fortitude and fearlessness of one and all.
I should like to acknowledge the work of the documentary makers, Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell, my son and daughter-in-law. Through four years of unflagging dedication, they produced their award-winning film, Riding the Rails, hailed as Best Documentary of 1997 by both the Director's Guild of America and the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association. The film also won a 1998 Peabody Award for broadcast and cable excellence as part of the acclaimed PBS series, The American Experience.
The wealth of information gathered for Riding the Rails made this book possible. Peter Kaufman and his colleagues at TV Books had the inspired notion of developing books from the exhaustive background work that goes into making documentaries and might otherwise be lost.
Jay CJ Chiarito Mazzarella scrutinized the contents for errors of fact and interpretation (any that remain are the sole property of the author). His North American Hobo Phenomenon: A Bibliography of Sources from 1878-1999 (Chiarito Mazzarella, Jay CJ,