The Iron Road Home

Author: Nebel, Laurel

Subjects: Adventure; Family Relationships; Railroads; Social Relationships

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Order code: 4667

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4667S

The Iron Road Home Cover

In 1953, railroads not only connected the country but also supported a whole culture and way of life for hobos. This is the story of one girl’s adventure, played out against the deftly portrayed world of the iron road. It is a sensitive, well-told story about the subculture of the railroads and the life of hobos. It is a piece of Americana that mainstream America knows little about. The author’s research was meticulous. Woven into the story is the sign language of the hobos. Each mark, like a hieroglyph, is a complete message.

After her mother’s death, thirteen-year-old Frankie Cooper talks the local mortician into hiring her as a live-in domestic to pay for a proper burial for her mom. The mortician finds Frankie exceedingly attractive. To escape being assaulted by him, Frankie dives out of her bedroom window, tumbles off the short roof into some bushes, and races to catch the nightly freight train leaving Devils Lake, North Dakota. The mortician is in hot pursuit.

Just as her legs give out, a hobo hauls her into a boxcar. Frightened and wary, she gradually accepts that the hobo, Minnesota Blackie, won’t harm her, and they continue on their odyssey across the plains on the Great Northern “high line.” Blackie is heading for the coast to catch an Alaska-bound fishing trawler. Frankie hopes to talk him into taking her to Washington state’s apple country to find the grandparents she’s never met, who are most likely unaware that she even exists. Blackie agrees, but only if Frankie cuts her curly red hair. Young girls are rarely seen on the road. With cropped hair, she’ll pass for a boy.

Danger rides the rails with the pair. A hundred-dollar reward is out for Frankie’s arrest. The rejected mortician has branded her a thief, and his rich wife has accused Frankie of stealing her diamond earrings. Reward notices are circulated on the rail lines. A Minot railyard switchman nearly exposes her as a girl, and two drifters are determined to collect the reward.

Frankie and Blackie are separated as the train pulls out for the long run to Havre, Montana. Blackie finds her two days later in a hobo jungle. The two drifters have also spotted her. On the train leaving Havre, the drifters attack. Frankie and Blackie narrowly escape, resume their journey west, and ultimately locate Frankie’s grandparents—only to be nearly turned away. How can Frankie claim to be Frank Cooper's daughter? Frank was killed in the war and never married. But with Blackie’s help, Frankie proves that she is indeed the Coopers' granddaughter.

Blackie stays for a time and works in a local saw mill. Frankie has come to regard him as the father she never knew, and a close bond develops. Blackie’s character fully emerges, and it is a sad day for all when he feels that he must move on. But he makes a final promise to Frankie that he will return.

In 1953, railroads not only connected the country but also supported a whole culture and way of life for hobos. This is the story of one girl’s adventure, played out against the deftly portrayed world of the iron road. It is a sensitive, well-told story about the subculture of the railroads and the life of hobos. It is a piece of Americana that mainstream America knows little about. The author’s research was meticulous. Woven into the story is the sign language of the hobos. Each mark, like a hieroglyph, is a complete message.

After her mother’s death, thirteen-year-old Frankie Cooper talks the local mortician into hiring her as a live-in domestic to pay for a proper burial for her mom. The mortician finds Frankie exceedingly attractive. To escape being assaulted by him, Frankie dives out of her bedroom window, tumbles off the short roof into some bushes, and races to catch the nightly freight train leaving Devils Lake, North Dakota. The mortician is in hot pursuit.

Just as her legs give out, a hobo hauls her into a boxcar. Frightened and wary, she gradually accepts that the hobo, Minnesota Blackie, won’t harm her, and they continue on their odyssey across the plains on the Great Northern “high line.” Blackie is heading for the coast to catch an Alaska-bound fishing trawler. Frankie hopes to talk him into taking her to Washington state’s apple country to find the grandparents she’s never met, who are most likely unaware that she even exists. Blackie agrees, but only if Frankie cuts her curly red hair. Young girls are rarely seen on the road. With cropped hair, she’ll pass for a boy.

Danger rides the rails with the pair. A hundred-dollar reward is out for Frankie’s arrest. The rejected mortician has branded her a thief, and his rich wife has accused Frankie of stealing her diamond earrings. Reward notices are circulated on the rail lines. A Minot railyard switchman nearly exposes her as a girl, and two drifters are determined to collect the reward.

Frankie and Blackie are separated as the train pulls out for the long run to Havre, Montana. Blackie finds her two days later in a hobo jungle. The two drifters have also spotted her. On the train leaving Havre, the drifters attack. Frankie and Blackie narrowly escape, resume their journey west, and ultimately locate Frankie’s grandparents—only to be nearly turned away. How can Frankie claim to be Frank Cooper's daughter? Frank was killed in the war and never married. But with Blackie’s help, Frankie proves that she is indeed the Coopers' granddaughter.

Blackie stays for a time and works in a local saw mill. Frankie has come to regard him as the father she never knew, and a close bond develops. Blackie’s character fully emerges, and it is a sad day for all when he feels that he must move on. But he makes a final promise to Frankie that he will return.

The Iron Road Home Cover

Share this book

You are viewing Home-based Switch to school-based