Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Library
Here is a bio on Col. Otto Ohlson who was the Alaska Railroad General Manager from 1928 until 1945.
Col. Otto F. Ohlson, a native of Sweden, took over as General Manager in 1928 when he was 58 years old. A lifelong railroader he had worked in Sweden, South America and East India, before immigrating to the United States. He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Northern Pacific before taking an Army commission early in 1918. He saw service as the general superintendent of United States Railroads in France. After returning to the Northern Pacific he came to the attention of Republican government officials and was enticed to take over the Alaska Railroad. In deference to his reserve lieutenant-colonelcy, Alaskans called him “Colonel” Ohlson.
For the next 17 years he worked to make the Alaska Railroad financially viable, dealing with the Great Depression era, calls for the abandonment of the railroad, repeated West Coast long shore strikes and then the crushing boom of military construction traffic leading up to World War II.
Col. Ohlson usually wore green suits, vests and the ever present hat. The black sedan was not equipped with hi/rail gear but rather rubber tires with steel flanges so it was captive on the rails. He sported a short mustache and is shown here between Al Smith and Col A.P. Hunt.
The details of the wreck are unknown but the resulting damage was unmistakably caused by a railroad coupler trying to engage the radiator.
(The following photo was discovered on line and confirms that the first B2 or #8 was a 1935 Dodge DU4 Sedan.) I have spent several hours on line searching photos of 1930 to 40 vintage cars. Finally found the 1935 Dodge DU4 Sedan. The DeSoto of that era did not match these features. It has the spare tire boots on the front fenders, tear drop lights, proper grill line, suicide doors, fender contours and single piece windshield. It makes sense that this would be a Chrysler Corporation product when you notice all such vehicles the ARR obtained right up to the Black Mariah were Chrysler products. -- Patrick Durand