Loco Motives

he Combat Railfans celebrate the new year on the fright side of the tracks

She and her sister, New York Maggie, who retired after 20 years as a paralegal, mostly rubber hobo in their motor home, working part-time as they travel. Each has been Queen of the Hoboes, Shorty in 1992 and Maggie in 1994 with Sidedoor.

"It's a good life. We love it," Shorty says. "Actually, everybody on the rails, if you have the nerve to be having this lifestyle, we have a mutual respect for each other. Not that there are no bad apples, but most of them are really good people. People who don't ride the rails and don't know us, they have a lot of opinions about us. But they haven't talked to us."

Understandably, the Union Pacific, while finding the Combat Railfans an entertaining anomaly, takes an absolute stand against train hopping in any form.

"It's unsafe and potentially life-threatening, and no one should ever do it." Furney reiterates. "At a minimum, they're guilty of trespass, and we can have them prosecuted for it. It's more for their safety than anything relative to the railroad. It's nuts to do it. There's no good excuse. Any rational person should understand that trying to jump on something that weighs tons, and has no handy means of allowing you to do that, and which risks your falling under the wheels and being killed or having legs or arms amputated belongs in a loony bin. It's part of railroading--we understand that--but it's certainly a part that we would be delighted to eliminate."

Meanwhile, the Combat Railfans and their guests drink beer, cook, trade stories and detonate things.

"We don't know half the people here," Bacardi admits. "People just show up."
He says that if not for the Combat Railfans, people like him would likely be wards of the state by now.

"We've had no births or deaths, couple of minor injuries," he points out. "The worst we do is mentally disturb people. Never physically, but, well, we've emotionally harmed a few."

In the distance, there's a loud thud as Colonel Horne demonstrates how to explode torpedoes.

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