February program will feature Dave Gates of the Summit County Historical Society.

HUDSON, Ohio – Don’t call them bums. Don’t call them tramps. They’re hobos. And there’s a difference.

Hobos have a storied history, rich culture and unique lifestyle. They also made the Western Reserve an important and frequent stop in their travels.

For its February program, Hudson Heritage Association welcomes Dave Gates of the Summit County Historical Society, who will present “Hobo Society in the Western Reserve.”

The program will be Thursday, February 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Barlow Community Center.

Through photos and artifacts, Gates will go beyond boxcars, harmonicas and bandanas on sticks to trace the long and often overlooked history of the American Hobo, misconceptions about the men and women who chose the lifestyle, and the culture and code of honor that hobos lived by – and still live by today.

Dave Gates of the Summit County Historical Society of Akron, Ohio, is one of the region’s foremost experts on hobos and hobo culture.

“The Western Reserve region was vital to America’s hobos,” says Gates, one of the region’s foremost experts on hobo culture. “Northeast Ohio served as one of the most important railroad intersections in North America. From here, hobos could travel west to the frontier, south to the coal mines of Appalachia, and north to the mines and forests of Canada. In many ways, the Western Reserve was the crossroads. Hobos were very active in this area.”

Gates, a retired naturalist with the Summit County Metro Parks, now works in education outreach for the Summit County Historical Society.

“When we look back on the history of Hudson and nearby towns, we tend to forget the laborers who helped work the fields, dig the ditches, lay the railroad tracks and construct the buildings,” says Chris Bach, Hudson Heritage Association President. “Many of these honorable workers were temporary and transient. Many were hobos.

“We are thrilled to have Dave Gates share his vast knowledge of hobo culture with our members and guests. This is going to be a fascinating program.”

Gates’ presentation on hobos in the Western Reserve will highlight Hudson Heritage Association’s February program on Thursday, February 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Barlow Community Center. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Two hobos walk along the tracks after being put off a train, circa 1920.

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