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  • Sandburg Hobo Tour

    Follow Carl Sandburg's hobo journey, beginning in his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois and ending in Omaha, Nebraska. Use the map or list below to learn about Sandburg's time riding the rails.

    At the age of 19 Carl Sandburg was a restless young man anxious to find himself and to see the country. Prior to his hobo adventure, Sandburg had only traveled as far as Chicago. He was drawn to head west to Kansas, in time for the wheat harvest, where there would surely be work. Along the way he would stop for odd jobs to fund his travels and keep food in his belly. Sandburg left his friends and family in Galesburg, Illinois on the last week of June in 1897. He returned to his hometown on October 15th of that same year.

    In reference to his hobo travels, Sandburg wrote:

    I was meeting fellow travelers and fellow Americans. What they were doing to my heart and mind, my personality, I couldn't say then nor later and be certain. I was getting a deeper self-respect than I had in Galesburg, so much I knew. I was getting to be a better storyteller.

    Quotes used in this tour are Sandburg's own from his book, "Always the Young Strangers."

    Map of the United States and railroad tracks provided by Library of Congress.