Transient workers, also known as “hobos,” circa 1940s.

Writing in the St. Paul Sunday Pioneer Press in 1940, Kathryn Gorman provides an eloquent description of the men who come to the Mission.

Every year, during Winter’s blizzards and Summer’s heat waves, thousands of homeless men — the perennial drifters, the migratory workers who are broke between jobs, transients and down-on-their-luckers — find refuge in the Union Gospel Mission.… They come to the Mission black as coal dust, from plaid cap to worn work shoes, after riding the rods from San Francisco or Chicago. They shuffle in discouraged and defeated. Many of them are old men with neither homes nor kin and often they are partially blind, a little deaf, maybe toothless, and in need of medical attention. They are a cross-section of one part of the population. Some of them have owned farms or been “hands” on large ones; some of them are lumberjacks heading for the Pacific Northwest; some booze fighters whose family ties have been cut because of liquor; others have grown too old and gnarled for laboring jobs which they did in their youth and middle-age; some have suffered injuries which have incapacitated them and some are victims of bad breaks....

~ Kathryn Gorman

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.