I have always found this image fascinating. Gentlemen all posed for a moment during their work day. Over my years, I have seen many similar images. Men posed, stopped for a moment, paused in their labors.
A moment in time. Captured at Crows Landing, California, sometime in the year 1904.
The locomotive engineer reading his orders. The locomotive fireman atop the boiler, sitting next to the sand dome. If I had to guess, probably the rest of the train crew, conductor standing next to the cylinder and brakemen sitting on the pilot. And the gentlemen holding on to the cab hand rail, probably a station agent.
All captured by the photographer for this brief moment. After which, they all went back to the task at hand. Moving the train on to the next station stop.
The print I have of the photograph does not credit whomever captured the image. Nor can I explain how it ended up among other photographs in the collection of my great grandfather. As far as I know, he had no family near Birds Landing, nor did he work on this particular route of the Southern Pacific. At that time, he was a fireman, working between Carlin and Wadsworth in Nevada, along the original route of the Transcontinental railroad. It would not be until the end of 1906 that he would be promoted to locomotive engineer.
In this brief moment captured, there are tales to be told. I just lack the key that unlocks all the mysteries.