As not to become an unintended spoiler for the novel, I've confined my characters to those who begin the story with Red.
Red is the novel's main character - a young girl who has been transformed into one of Hobohemia's steam children - a free spirit keeping Hobohemia's tracks alive. An orphan torn from her dying mother's arms, she brings into Hobohemia all the guilt and pain of that parting. All the anger. A cute little brunette child of eleven named Violet Winsmith, she retains a short-tempered disposition that could spell her doom if she does not learn to control it. Violet chooses the name "Red" upon her transformation, favoring the color of her favorite leggings given by a father she never met.
Over two-hundred years old, Midtown is one of Hobohemia's handful of "steam mothers". She favors a long ponytail and engineer boots. Midtown mentors Red through her first years as a steam child. Midtown lives in Nebraska's huge Bailey Yard, and has a history with the Baron of Santa Fe.
She is a steam child with a penchant for Victorian garb, spectacles, and fancy hair. Glory is Red's best friend and fellow mischief maker in the Bailey Yard. She is also an anchor helping to keep Red's temper and anxieties at bay.
The portly black man is both the king of Bailey Yard's hobo jungle, as well as a great cook and story teller. He sets Red off on a quest to find the peace of mind she yearns for.
She looks like a cross between a young girl and a tiger, but this steam mother's ferocity is unmatched when it comes to protecting the central Canadian railways and unions. She's just a little bit crazy, by her own admission. Loves the idea of pickles and ice cream sandwiches.
A conductor without a timepiece, Henry is stuck with the job of marshaling trains up and down the Big Hill in the Canadian Rockies. Born in Toronto, the spectacled young man yearns for travel, but must endure what seems a dead end career in Field, Canada.
The enimatic Chinese boss of the labor camp in Field, Canada, Wu has been waiting for someone to help his people - both those alive and workers who have died but can't move on. He has made a pact with Henry to secure a conductor's pocket watch, but the price paid might be high.
At first glance, he appears to be a man of culture from his waxed mustache and snakeskin boots to the violin he plays with the skill of a concert virtuoso. Until you notice his pearl handled pistols. A feared Pinkerton marshal, Smith and his team of yegg deputies enforce frontier justice along the rails. The illegitimate son of a fallen rail baron, Smith seeks to regain his family's former empire and settle old scores.