Friday, April 10, 2009

A Noble Life: On the Railroad

Life on the railroad - especially in its early days - was hard. The physical labor was exhuasting, there were long hours away from the family, and it was dangerous. Men were frequently injured, often fatally. But the railroad connected our country and made east/west travel much more accessible.

I have absolutely no idea who these men are or where the photo was taken. The original photo was found in a very old family album which I borrowed from my cousin (and need to finish scanning!). On the back of the photo it says, "fa. rat[words covered by black paper stuck from photo album] was taken before I got sick. No good."

I'm not aware that any of my paternal family worked for the railroad. Perhaps one of these men is a cousin? A family friend? How did he get sick? One or all of these men is somehow connected to my grandparents or great-grandparents... I just wish I knew how.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Unknown Railroad Workers. Photograph. Undated. Digital image. Privately held by Elizabeth O’Neal, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Santa Barbara Co., California. 2009.

Article composed for the 12th Edition, Smile for the Camera: A Noble Life.

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Finn S, Hansen said...


Check out it has a collection of railroad pictures (not shown). The index indicates some of locomotive 909, could it be the one in your picture? I Googled "railroad locomotive 909"

Finn S. Hansen

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Finn - I'll definitely check that out!

Miriam said...

I also was going to suggest that you check with railroad buffs. The serious ones can tell you not only what railroad company the locomotive was issued to, but what lines between what cities that locomotive ran during which years!

Anonymous said...

Engine 909 was built in Sweden in 1907 & was in
service there until 1945, put in storage during the Cold War, then used as a tourist train. Sold
to Canada at the end of the last Century and is
now used for steam engine tours. The middle man
is dressed like Conductors on freight trains in
the US dressed when my Grandfather was a Conductor for the Southern Pacific Railway. I
Googled "steam engine '090'" and there's lots of
articles about the engine. Good luck finding
the identity of the men. Sandy Loman