|For the location in Wasteland, see Desert Nomads.|
The Rail Nomads are a large group of wastelanders who make use of an old, dilapidated freight train to travel through the nuked-out Nevada. While at first sight, it might seem they are quite advanced technologically, in reality, they became a borderline tribal community, forming a clan-based society with a polytheistic religion, the train becoming an arcane item, an idol. Their basic source of sustenance is herds of longhorn cattle that are also used to pull the train. They also possess the astonishing hobo oracle.
In 2087, the Nomads set up camp to the north of camp Highpool. Their train is sitting on a sideline and by this time it became a ramshackle collection of railroad cars, patched with wood, hide, and an odd piece of corrugated aluminum with only the engine and the caboose in better condition. The clans' asbestos tents are set up on the other side of the railway.
As described in a Rail Nomad tale, one of the Rail Nomad clans wrote a three-part novel describing their interpretation of the folklore hero John Henry. In their story, John is described as a freed slave, responsible for the rails and trains across the United States, of which formed the Rail Nomad clans. His fellow "shakers" were described as Topekans, due to John Henry's trust in them. In the story, the conflict is begun with "Chief See-an-Oo" (a misinterpretation of the C & O Railway) attempting to move west but stopped by Big Bend Mountain. Although seen as an unattainable feat to the clan, the chosen solution was to simply go through the mountain. Although some complained (attributed to being the Atchinson's by the author), John Henry took the Luddite Family of the Topekans and began working through the mountain. Before long, a (speculated to be Atchinson) salesman approached the Chief, advertising synth robots, Vulcan Cannons, and "Oligotrons", all of which Henry opposed. Challenging the salesman, Henry began work to mine through the mountain, competing against two Vulcans and titanium clawers. Although he won in the end, even as a Vulcan exploded from the efforts, he perished from exhaustion, giving the Rail Nomads the final eulogy of "For John Henry was a hard-working man. He died with his hammer in his hand, lord lord. He died with his hammer in his hand."
The richest and most powerful of the clans, the Topekans are also the least trustworthy. Their scheming and intrigues have earned them little regard.
The poorest, but generally honest clan.