Mysterious Family Photos (part 1)

I was recently back in Minnesota with my Mom, helping her prepare and then move to a new apartment. This move involved a fair amount of assessing personal belongings and letting go of some, and one day I was nearby as she was going through piles of old documents, photos, and other personal effects. As she discarded various groups of old photos, I couldn’t resist going through the pile and snagging a few for myself. Some of these photos I wanted in order to maintain family history (although she assured me that many of them were duplicates of pictures already saved in albums), and others I just grabbed because I found them visually interesting – and mysterious.

Take this small vintage photograph of a train, for example … it measures 2 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches, and has the interesting border with angled corners, which would suggest to me that it’s a pretty old photo. One generally doesn’t see borders like this (or photographic prints this small) on pictures from any recent decade. There is a pencil marking “36” on the back, but I don’t know if that references the year or not.

The obvious question would be: “why didn’t you just ask your Mom?” I asked her about a few of the pictures, but we were both on a time-sensitive mission to de-clutter and I could have easily asked her about every single picture in the pile, which would have kept us there for weeks. So I guess I just have to live with the mysteries (unless of course she sees this blog post and wants to let me know!).

One of the things I like about this picture is that it reminds me of the photographs of O. Winston Link, who documented steam locomotive railroading in the United States in the late 1950s. If any readers out there have any ideas or info about this type of train and perhaps the age of the photo, let me know in the comments section below.

vintage photo of train engine in Iowa

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