Among the many family photos I have on my wall — true, some are front and side shots with numbers across their chests — is this one, taken Sept. 3, 1900. It’s of locomotive No. 183, with a coal car and several cars behind. Lined up in front are the train’s crew, including Walter Lynn Cox, the 19-year-old conductor. He’s my maternal grandfather who came to Texas at 9 months old in a covered wagon.

Lynn Ashby is a Houston-based columnist. Contact him at

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