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Am 06.07.2008 veröffentlicht

PLEASE NOTE: This video has been created for educational purposes only, and as such no copyright infringement is intended.

Contrary to what some experts want us to believe, a cross-tie walker is not a person walking around wearing two ties in the form of a cross. Rather, it is a kind of hobo, i.e. a wandering, homeless person, particularly one who makes a habit of hopping freight trains. Cross-ties used to be made of wood; they are underneath the rails of a railroad track, supporting and fixing them.

Obviously, the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival song does not exactly refer to German railroads. Then again, the railroad from Rheine to Neuenkirchen in north-western Germany boasts a long tradition of cross-tie walkers and hobos, the most famous ones probably being Karl Brochterbeck and a distant cousin of his, John Steinbeck. This tradition can perhaps be attributed to the outstanding landscape in the area, notably the towering cliffs of the Waldhuegel (Wood Hills) in the south and the impressive if somewhat threatening skyline of the Kalkwerk (Limestone Works) next to the railroad tracks.

Since 1986, when the railroad between Rheine and Neuenkirchen was shut down, most of the rails and cross-ties have been removed. This may account for the fact that recently the number of hobos hopping freight trains between the two towns has somewhat decreased. Nevertheless, one can still sometimes see the odd hobo furtively crouching beside the weedy, hardly visible track, patiently waiting for a train that will presumably never come.

Surprisingly, one of the signs with hobo code -- a number of secret symbols written with chalk or coal to provide directions, information, and warnings to other hobos -- can still be found at the old Wadelheimer Chaussee railroad crossing (near the bridge over the B70n by-pass).

A NOTE ON THE PHOTOS: With the exception of the hobo sign, all the photos were taken on the dead railroad track running below the Neuenkirchener Strasse, Rheine.

A NOTE ON THE MUSIC: This is homerecording material from another century - I sing and play the musical instruments, plus there is an antique analog rhythm machine. And yep, you guessed right - the keyboard I used here is a classic DX 7; I also used it for the bass line.

HINWEIS FÜR MEINE DEUTSCHEN LANDSLEUTE: "cross-tie walker" bedeutet nicht, wie die meisten glauben, "Kreuz-Krawatten Wanderer". Das Wort "cross-tie" bedeutet vielmehr "Bahnschwelle". Ein "cross-tie walker" ist somit so etwas wie ein "hobo" -- ein amerikanischer oder nordrheinwestfälischer Landstreicher, der dadurch durch das Land streicht, dass er Fahrkartenautomaten missachtet und auf Frachtzüge aufspringt. Jetzt dürfte hoffentlich klar sein, worum es in dem Song von CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL geht und warum ich mir die Mühe gemacht habe, derart viele Bahnschwellen zu fotografieren...

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