1933 - The depths of the great depression. Armies of homeless men roamed the land stealing rides on the the railroad! They were nomads who lived by no laws but their own! Dedicated to their destruction was the railroad man who stood between their destiny and survival. Lee Marvin is 'A #1' a hobo among hobos; living by his wits going from one hobo camp to another, hopping rides on a passing train to where ever he pleases. When, he learns about 'Shack's reputation for getting bo's off his train, "A #1", for lack of anything better to do, announces he'll ride Shack's train, the 19, to Portland, Ore. Ernest Borgnine is the evil conductor 'Shack', a true sadist when dealing with ANY 'bo' he catches riding his freight train without a ticket! He carefully chooses between a length of chains, a steel hammer and/or his steel locking pin tied to a cable and dragged under the moving train destrying anyone between the moving ground and bottom of the railroad car! Keith Carridine is a punk kid called 'cigaret' who's long on mouth, short on ears and deficient in brains, invites himself along for the ride. "Emperor of the North" is an One of the locamotives in the film was from Magma up in superior.