OGDEN -- The picture of beautiful women using ribbons to lead a train into Ogden's Union Station is striking for its artistic merit and celebratory atmosphere.
But what fascinates most is that it appeared in an Italian newspaper in 1925. Why does a newspaper in Milan care about what was then Ogden's new train station?
A copy of the newspaper front page showed up at Union Station about four years ago and was something of a mystery.
Lee Witten, chief archivist of the Union Station library, admits his own carelessness did not help.
A former employee of the station who had moved to San Antonio, Texas, "just happened to be walking through an old bookstore and saw this old newspaper and immediately recognized the architecture" because it looked like Ogden's Union Station.
"He started looking at it and realized it was Ogden's station," Witten said.
The man bought the paper, scanned the front page and sent a copy to Witten. Witten is kicking himself because he didn't save the envelope or the man's name. He has run into dead ends tracing the paper because of its age, the newspaper's being out of business, and the fact that he doesn't speak Italian.
The image appeared on January 25, 1925, on the front page of "La Domenica del Corriere," which the Wikipedia web site says was an illustrated supplement to a newspaper published in Milan until 1989.
The supplement specialized in extravagantly drawn images of world events, Wikipedia says, and this is no exception.
The caption under the image begins "Curious American custom," and says the first train for the inauguration of the new station is preceded by an attachment of "the gracious women of the city" symbolically pulling it.
Witten said the illustrator must have worked from a photograph because the detail of the station's architecture is precise.
There are small errors. The number plates on the engine are red and white, Witten said. That would be correct for European trains, but in the Union States engine numbers were black and white.
But does the picture show the event as it actually happened?
Sort of. Ogden's Union Station was dedicated Nov. 22, 1924, a Saturday, and the Sunday Standard-Examiner had a full page of pictures.
One of those photos shows a bevy of young women holding letters that spell out "Ogden Union Depot," and another shows, yes, a row of young women lined up in front of a train engine holding ribbons.
The angle is different, but the train is the same, with the same number, "2." Even the women's clothes match.
News stories say that national news agencies were covering the opening, so a photo more closely matching the newspaper's drawing may exist somewhere.
A Standard-Examiner story headlined "Pretty Girls Help to Open New Station," says the Chamber of Commerce recruited women of Ogden for the photo-op.
They held the big letters for a picture, and "about this time a locomotive ran out of fuel just as it entered the yards, so the girls got busy and dragged the monster in by means of ribbons attached to the old iron horse."
Dragged a train with ribbons?
It's in the paper, so it must be true, but Witten is happy to have more information about the picture.
"I'm so glad to have this confirmed, that this isn't just a fantasy," he said.
Check out the special "Preserving the Future" Progress edition stories by clicking here.