Back to the Double Mystery

Back to the Double Mystery

Two weeks ago, in my Double Mystery post, I began dissecting the evidence in a photo owned by Sandy Forest. A couple of readers asked about the hat worn by the man on the right. It's a big clue. It's difficult to read the hat, but it says "Asst. Engineer"...

Two weeks ago, in my Double Mystery post, I began dissecting the evidence in a photo owned by Sandy Forest. A couple of readers asked about the hat worn by the man on the right. It’s a big clue.

sandyforest1.jpg

sandyforestcropped hat2.jpg

It’s difficult to read the hat, but it says “Asst. Engineer” with letters beneath it. The first letter is “H,” followed by what I think is an “E” and maybe a “D.” Initially, I thought the second letter was an R, but there seems to be a bottom line to the letter. So what does it stand for? That’s the big question.

He’s holding a spike and is an engineer. That suggests a railway connection. But I’m not sure it’s a locomotive railway line. It could be a street railway. Perhaps they are celebrating the inauguration of the first tracks being placed where Felix lived.

Railroad spikes come in different shapes, but the ones used to lay the rails have an off-set head. I’ve spent time researching spikes and so has Sandy. Something doesn’t seem to quite add up.
sandyforestspike.jpg
I’m looking for an expert on railroads and think I’ve found one. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week with an answer.

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  1. The other possibility is that this is simply a posed shot with props intended to show the folks back home how these two had "struck it rich" working the railroad, similar to the many nineteenth-century photographs of miners that include an enormous gold nugget. Clearly it is a whimsical image, suggesting the two were clowning around on some level. Whether it represents anything factual is the real mystery, in my opinion.