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Posted by on 2019/02/10 under Life

Stobe the Hobo, the internet’s most famous train-hopper, dead after apparent accident
Josh Katzowitz—
Nov 17 at 4:51PM | Last updated Nov 18 at 8:24AM

Screengrab via hobestobe/YouTube

His YouTube videos never stopped being compelling.

James Stobie was the most famous train-hopping hobo on the internet. He rode the rails in a way that was reminiscent of a desperate man searching for work at every city he could find during the Great Depression. Except that Stobie, aka Stobe the Hobo, made YouTube videos about his experiences, hopping trains to move around the country for the pure fun of it.

Stobie died earlier this month while train-hopping, and though it’s unclear exactly what occurred, his fans on this Facebook memorial page are distraught at his death.

“He died doing what he loved, bringing the world his art of train filmmaking,” wrote a Facebook user named Jeffrey James Horvison on the memorial page. “Stobe was an artist. He played the piano for all his videos. His cinematography and film editing, his commentary and vocabulary, and his perspectives, were a true art form. I hope you get the time to enjoy all his videos and share them with your friends.”

Jim Stobie Stobe the Hobo Facebook memorial Photo via Remembering Stobe The Hobo/Facebook

There were several online theories about how Stobie could have died. The Secret Society of Internet Hobos site wrote about internet reports that Stobie, who might have been trapped on a bridge by an oncoming train, either fell off a bridge onto tracks below or that his backpack got tangled in a passing Amtrak train while he was on the bridge and that he was dragged to his death.

The Baltimore Police Department did not respond to a Daily Dot request for comment.

According to a redditor in the Vagabond subreddit, this unlisted video apparently was the last thing Stobie uploaded.

As another redditor wrote, “Trainhopping is a decidedly DANGEROUS undertaking. It’s a federal crime and you can do serious time if you are busted. This lifestyle WILL catch up to you. Trainhopping is NOT glamorous or romantic. The novelty wears off RAPIDLY. It is a life choice of HARDSHIP and DANGER and will KILL you – even if you are super intelligent and careful.”

But Stobe’s videos were always compelling to watch.

In the video below, for example, he gave viewers the layout of the train yard, his thoughts on the best place to hop a train departing from New Orleans, what provisions he needed to take with him (beer, cheap wine, and fried chicken), and why the train was moving so slowly for so long.

On Nov. 6, he posted this video as he traveled through Wyoming.

His YouTube following wasn’t huge—nearly 11,000 subscribers—and you wouldn’t necessarily think watching a guy ride slowly through the swamps of Louisiana or the windy plains of Wyoming would be captivating. But Stobie was entertaining in his exasperation and his nonstop quest to procure cheap beer. Mostly, Stobie wanted to be seen and heard.

“I have tried a lot of ways to get attention as an artist; this seems to be the only one that people notice,” Stobie told the Daily Dot in October 2016. “I am really disappointed with modern boring life in the U.S. and the fact that traveling basically requires a personal vehicle these days. I only make YouTube videos that are original content, and this is a way to do that with the total glut of material on YouTube these days.”

During his interview with the Daily Dot, Stobie acknowledged the dangers of his passion.

“Trying to get on or off at high speed, or [with] too much alcohol in my system,” he said. “A specific instance would be dismounting while fatigued and blitzed, wiping out and watching a wheel go two inches from my face.”

As his online obituary reads, “To some he will become a legend through his life’s work and to others he will be fondly remembered solely for his quirky yet lovable self as evidenced by his humor, fierce wit, compassion, dead-pan delivery, solicited and unsolicited commentary on just about anything, unbridled passion for unconventional living, mad piano skills, the enormous talent that he generously shared with all whose lives he intersected with, and countless other things. He will indeed be greatly missed by all who knew him while leaving an irreparable gaping hole in the hearts, minds, and souls of his family.”

According to reports, Stobie was 33.

Update 8:23am CT, Nov. 18: According to a Baltimore Police Department spokesperson, Stobie’s death is part of an open investigation and a police report about his death is not yet available.

James Stobie – (Stobe The Hobo)

It was almost one year ago when I first found Stobe the hobo videos on youtube. I’m not sure what attracted me the most, the excitement of hopping on a train, the cinematography, the piano playing familiar tunes or was it the midnight meanderings and poetic commentary?

I was attracted to it all, and I watched hours more, I re-watched the ones I had already seen. His videos were all wanted to watch and to this day, I probably watch a Stobe video once a day.

All that was because of one man, James Stobie, (AKA, Hobo Stobe, Stobe The Hobo, John Stone, maybe more?).

Having watched 100’s of hours of youtube videos he made, everything about them made me want more. And I often would think, how does this guy do it?

How can he afford to take these long trips, sipping beer and eating fried chicken if he was lucky enough to be in a town that had a liquor store?
Who Was Stobe The Hobo?

Jim was extremely knowledgeable about freight trains, A skill obtained over time.

From my account, he has been riding since 2005, around 10 years give or take. traveling with friends at first, and forming the infamous Kernels Freight Crew, also known as KFC.

He had the classic hobo persona down, a little jug of wine and some scraps of food that were tossed out as a bonus while he waits in the darkest hours of the night for the next train out of town.

James Stobie created his now famous youtube channel Hobo Stobe on February 15th, 2012.

It contained 37 episodes, that are around 25 minutes each. Traveling from the pacific northwest as far south as Miami, Florida.

But before his channel, he also made 2 full-length Movies;

Attack of the Stobe Hobo
Canada by Cargo Train

Both those films are now on youtube, under Hobo Stobe Archive.

Jim was defiantly doing this on his own volition, as quoted from an episode. As far as I could tell, he lived his life like a true hobo, making a few bucks through some donations by his dedicated fan base to keep filming and editing his videos.
A little About James Stobie

Born in Colorado on October 23, 1984, to Mike and Mary Stobie. He grew up and graduated high school in Evergreen, Colorado. He would later attend Colorado State University and graduate with a bachelor degree in music.

While attending CSU, Jim was an intern for the college radio station.

It was during his junior year of College where he started hopping trains. The tracks ran right by the campus, and that is where he found his passion for unknown adventure.

Mary would later say this is where Jim got his Bachelor degree in hobo studies.

He would take trips with friends, and on one trip in 2007 he met a future member of KFC, “Wing Man”.

In 2010, Stobe joined the United States Coast Guard and was stationed out of Seattle, Wa.

He would serve 3 years, finishing in June of 2013.

In 2015, Stobe took off to teach English in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Jim taught for a year documenting and publishing videos on his youtube he created.

It’s safe to say that once he returned from teaching, he started to document his train-hopping journeys fulltime.
Becoming A Youtube Star

I’m not sure it was Jim’s intention to become a “youtube” star or influencer. Jim was a filmmaker and good one he alway’s had a good eye for scenery and interesting topics which most people would have overlooked.

For the time Stobe the Hobo was around, youtube was a great platform for his videos. And over time his audience grew to around 11 thousand subscribers!

Those interested not only helped his channel grow, but it also provided a tiny bit of revenue, enough to keep him on the rails filming.

Stobe also created a patreon, where fans could give a little more and he offered bonus material back.

Those videos were weekly updates of his adventures and plans. He also would allow private access to his DPU (Distributed Power Unit) videos, which he didn’t want to be published, likely to avoid pissing off BNSF and future riders.

To be honest, some of those were my personal favorite episodes.

Stobe had an amazing wit and vocabulary, that intertwined and flowed as if he was reading poetry.

His adventures across the vast land, on a quest for beer and fried chicken took us through lonely pastures and rundown towns. His arch nemesis “the bull” made for some tense moments in the show.

But no matter what, he kept filming.

The editing of his film footage was part of the magic of Hobo Stobe. Most videos come in like a normal TV show at around 22 minutes. He understood filmmaking, he knew what his fans wanted to see and know.

It was good, interesting and no one else can duplicate what Stobe could do. Stobie could have done just about anything and his fans would be right there with him.
Que Up The Music

Jim was a talented musician. His dad is a professional drummer and there were always instruments around to play on. At one point in high school, Jim started a Death Metal band with his good friend Will, they were called Synisism. Jim played drums and turns out he was really good at that too!

His first full-length movie ‘Attack of the Stobe Hobo’ begins and ends with a death metal song by the band Dying Fetus.

Death Metal wasn’t the only music he liked, he was eclectic and liked all kinds.

Is it possible that a rule youtube has for using copyrighted music created this beautiful accident that would now have Stobe playing songs on his piano to be used in the videos?

Episode 1 starts with footage of a train car that says “stobe attack” while in the background you hear Jim playing “Crazy Train” on the piano. It is absolutely beautiful and fitting.

stobe the hobo pianoAll of Jims episodes you can hear a song that is purposely placed in that spot, such as “Crazy Train”, you start singing along, “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train”.

Or, in the train from hell episode where Jim is completely ticked off at BNSF, you hear Taylor Swift “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Also in that same episode, you hear an amazing version Jim plays of Pink Floyds “Time” because he sat and waited.

He was brilliant and talented that way. His piano playing skills and choice of songs made his videos entertaining and always interesting.

Releasing 37 episodes and 2 full-length movies, Stobe was likely on his final filming run. He had said he was ready to take a break and was already eyeing up a new adventure, this time in podcasting.

One Response

Kent Wilson November 3, 2018

Ya know, I never meet him, but damn the dude had charisma. I took one look
at him in that cargo hat, with his chubby face and said to.myself damn he,s a
living reincarnation of Bobby Hill from tv show King of the Hill. I think even
his persona was like Bobby Hills.
I’m freight train rider from 40 years ago, riding for almost 8 years off and on.
I started watching Jim last year and blew through al his videos. Having lived
a very hard life,few thing truly sadden me.But when I learn of his death,I was
sad.He seemed like such a nice guy and smart & witty. The wittines is what
put him over the top from his Youtube freight train hoppers competition.
Sadly I knew that his end would be tragic,though I hoped he would get off the
rails before it cost him his life. Riding rails is dangerous life.The freight train
mistress is a unforgiving mistress. Exaterated By drinking in the yard , catching
out or on a train is just crazy. It seemed to me that at the end he drank more,
I think to compensate for getting sick of catching out and the whole stobehobo
Crazy as it is, with millions of videos to watch online, I still rewatch his videos.
I’ve rewatched some 3 or 4 times. Last night I watch Dallas to Denver. And was
planning to rewatch one tonight, till I found this blog.But still will.
I only wished he quit before it killed him.He seem like he was close to it.
But I think the notoriety of being Stobehobo took over Jim Stobe.
Rest in Peace brother, I’m sure your in a place with lots of fried chicken &
My deepest condolences to Jim’s family and friends.
Jim you will truly be missed.
Kent H Wilson
Couer ‘ d Alene, ID. On the BSNF HIGHLINE

3 thoughts on “Stobe the Hobo

  1. Janet Vierra says:

    I will miss Stobe too! Did you catch the PNW video when he came through Spokane and Sandpoint? Im in the valley, so I loved that one. I watch him every day too

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just “discovered him on YouTube”. His dry sense of humor and hilarious rants about poor rail service made me howl. A straight up smart dude who put himself in tight spots sometimes and his thoughts of it that were said aloud by him on those matters were very compelling. This to me is classic Americana comedy-drama, albeit dark. There was an element to this man that made you want to find out more about him. RIP Jim Stobe, we miss you

  3. just discovered him last night, went through almost all his videos….. loved it……


    Montréal, Québec, Canada

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