This year marks the 140th anniversary of the completion of a transcontinental rail link across the U.S. In May 1869, crews from the Union Pacific and Central Pacific finally met at Promontory Point, Utah; on May 10, a ceremony was held which included the nailing of a golden spike to symbolize the achievement. (However, it wasn't until September, when a nearby bridge was built, that uninterrupted transcontinental rail travel actually began.)
In September 1996, I rode Amtrak from New York to California, changing trains in Chicago; it took several days, but it was worth it to see the scenery and terrain. Every American should travel cross-country at ground level at least once in their lifetimes to grasp this country's geography and get a feel for how the U.S. developed.
The photo above, taken from the May 10 ceremony, became famous, and the event itself became a milestone in American history. There's a good chance Carole Lombard learned about it in school, as it had occurred only about half a century before, not that long ago.
Perhaps that photo was in the back of her mind when she posed for this shot, which probably was taken in some California railyard instead of Promontory Point:
It's a rather charming picture -- I love seeing Carole, smiling, in a conductor's cap, and to view lots of Lombard leg is always a plus -- but I have no idea when this was taken (I'm guessing the early thirties). Nor can I tell you who the other woman is; my first guess is that it's Bessie Love, a 1920s star probably best known for starring in the 1929 Academy Award best picture winner, "The Broadway Melody." But I could be on the wrong track (figuratively, of course). Nor do I have any idea why this photo was taken.
If anyone knows more about this photo, please let us know.