Utne Blogs > Literature

Magic Carpets Made of Steel

by Staff

Tags: National Hobo Convention, High Times, hobo culture, trains,

Nestled in a cornfield, deep in the heart of Iowa, the Hobo King presides over his court of tramps in an ancient ceremony dedicated to America’s rusty rail-horses and the even rustier men and women who ride them. It's the annual National Hobo Convention, which has been held in Britt, Iowa, for over a century. Before that, the convention popped up in cornfields and junkyards throughout the country, as ephemeral as its attendants, dating back almost to the Civil War. Chris Simunek documents the ritual in his article for High Times (excerpt only available online), and his credentials as a writer for the elite stoner mag are the only reason he’s given access to the Hobo King’s shadowy world. The story unfolds through the smoke of campfires and reefer—bringing to life the denizens of America’s oldest counterculture and their father’s magic carpets made of steel.

Morgan Winters