First, a bit of history.
Hobos have played a big part in the history of America – one that’s often ignored. They were the nomadic workers who roamed the country at the start of the 20th century and through the Great Depression, taking work wherever they could and never spending too long in any one place. In their extensive travels, hobos learned to leave notes for each other, giving information on the best places to camp or find a meal, or dangers that lay ahead. This unique Hobo Code was known to the brotherhood of freight train riders and used by all to keep the community of traveling workers safe, fed and in work.
The diverse symbols in the Hobo Code could be found scrawled in coal or chalk all across the country and were a fascinating system of communication symbols. The purpose of the code was not only to help others find what they needed, but to keep the entire lifestyle possible for everyone.
Messages left for other travelers had to be easy to read but look like little more than random markings to everyone else to maintain an element of secrecy. Many of the hobo glyphs were cryptic and nearly impossible for people outside of the hobo community to understand, even if they spotted them.