About the Film

As a child during the Depression, Adolph was captivated by a desire for travel. Visiting the hobo jungles, he was part of a world where men told stories of adventure and measured time by whittling. Adolph once watched an old hobo whittle a ball-in-cage — the quintessential design among whittlers. From that moment a lifelong fascination to master a dying art took hold. Each cut, into the soft wood, fueled the memory of freedom of riding the rails.

Tramp art and hobo whimsies were uniquely born of an independent spirit. Hobos whittle. Tramps carve. Both craft amazing objects from discarded cigar boxes and found materials. One man, Adolph Vandertie — Grand Duke of the Hobos — created over 4,000 rare and beautiful pieces of this distinctive folk art form. Using the trash of an economy that became too arrogant to care, Vandertie transforms the refuse.

Westbound is a candid portrait of 96 year-old Adolph Vandertie and his final confessions of a life filled with joy, heartache, and addiction. Sweeping through the Great Depression, the film chronicles America’s downfall and return to being the strongest nation in the world. It’s an iconic tale that explores Adolph’s journey to achieve personal redemption by creating an astonishing collection – beautiful in their minute details and the cleverness of their design. This simple act of whittling found objects becomes a beacon of hope for one man while capturing the true spirit of America.