Sunday, February 14, 2016

Starlight on the Rails

The sim Calleta, on the southern edge of Heterocera, is home to the Second Life Railroad's (SLRR) Union Station (see photo above) and the Hobo Railroad Infohub. This busy and welcoming sim contains a multitude of railroad crossings (naturally), a Wild West-styled town full of freebies, and a great number of whimsical billboards. You can get the Elvis-themed billboard pictured below for free from the Wheedle Gallery. A tall, stone pillar greets you at the landing point to Union Station, upon which are carved four Good Neighbor Commandments for Second Life Mainland, including "Thou shalt not block roads nor sea lanes with thy objects, nor shall ye set ban lines, for they are the suck".

According to Marianne McCann, "Calleta was one of the telehubs that cropped up on the Atoll. One of two, I believe, and the only one on that continent that was built by Residents." For those of you (like I was!) who are unaware of the history of telehubs, back before 2005 it cost linden dollars to teleport. However, because the grid at that time was still small, people could fly from one end of the grid to another. As the grid expanded, Linden Lab introduced telehubs - designated Linden builds which created a network where residents could port to the telehub closest to where they wanted to go, then walk, fly or take other transport to get the rest of the way. Naturally, transportation networks grew up around those telehubs. In Calleta, in addition to the SLRR, you can find a pod station with four different routes, leading both to Sansara and further into Heterocera. Right off the shore is a tiny island called the "Hobo Hilton", and here travelers can rest, rez bumper boats or large, floating rubber duckies, or grab a free lighthouse from the nearby dock.

Marianne continued her story about telehubs by saying, "So, the time during the expansion of the telehubs was also before there was an LDPW. What the Lab used to do back then is have contests for builds, or have an interested group 'manage' the hub's build. In Calleta's case, a group of folks fancied themselves hobos and set up a hub along the tracks. Coming into that group of hobos, as well as a number of other builders, was Arcadia Asylum. She built (and built and built) content in Caletta." You can still find Arcadia's freebies throughout the sim.

Over at the Hobo camp, travelers are welcome to sit by the fire, sharing tales of the road along with a bottle of whiskey. Largely designed by resident Orhalla Zander, the camp offers a place for homeless residents of the grid to live, learn, and share content. Hobo culture in Second Life seems strongly reminiscent of American hobo colleges in the early 1900's. Far from the highly-satired image of the hobo during the Great Depression, hobos have been an integral part of American culture since the Civil War. In a fascinating and extensive article from Collector's Weekly called "Don't Call Them Bums: The Unsung History of America's Hard-Working Hoboes, author Lisa Hix comments, "hoboes helped build the very railroads they traveled on, as well as the sewer systems, water lines, roads, bridges, and homes that have filled up the West." They formed a migratory workers union, held annual conventions which are still going on today, and created a Hobo Code of Ethics in 1887, the first law of which is “Decide your own life. Don’t let another person run or rule you.” Membership cards for the International Itinerant Migratory Workers Union contained an oath which began, "I, (name), solemnly swear to do all in my power to aid and assist all those willing to help themselves."

As stated in various Second Life Hobo Network groups, "We are a community working together to build the kind of virtual village we want to live in. Hobos are independent and creative people who need little and share a lot." The groups, including the one at Calleta, provide places to rez and build, and bestow help and advice on SL newcomers...helping all those willing to help themselves.

In addition to the Hobo infohub at Calleta, there is also a Hobo Haven (far right photo, above) at the Virtual Railway Consortium (VRC) in Tuliptree. At the VRC Headquarters, you can find a long wall full of history about railroads in SL, and real-time maps depicting the location of trains and pods throughout the grid (center photo, above). You can also find free open source railroad trains, scripts, builds, and landmark collections. Residents interested in more information about the Second Life Railroad can find it here.

Even those with no interest in the SLRR will enjoy visiting Calleta. Pick up a few freebies, play on the bumper boats, and rest your weary bones by the hobo campfire while listening to songs about riding the rails. You'll be glad you did.

"Looking back along the road I've traveled 
The miles can tell a million tales
Each year is like some rolling freight train
And cold as starlight on the rails"
Rosalie Sorrels: Starlight on the Rails (Utah Phillips)


  1. Calleta does have a certain something, and you have great pics. When i saw your 'Welcome to Calleta' photo i just had to show you my old exit sign pic. I love the wording as well as the misspelling of the word 'horrible'. All adds to the charm!

  2. Ok, reverse that. Of course i meant YOUR 'exit' sign, MY 'welcome' sign ! And i don't know why the link didn't 'take' but it does work if you right click on it. :-)

    1. *grin* I noticed the misspelling. I love all of the signs and billboards there, including the great Visit Second Life one. "Now with more bugs than a roach motel!"