Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman remembered for his improbable [B1] :19 survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe , and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior over the remaining 12 years of his life—effects sufficiently profound (for a time at least) that friends saw him as "no longer Gage". [H] :14
Jack and Beverly Wilgus, collectors of vintage photographs, no longer recall how they came by the 19th-century daguerreotype of a disfigured yet still-handsome man. It was at least 30 years ago. The photograph offered no clues as to where or precisely when it had been taken, who the man was or why he was holding a tapered rod. But the Wilguses speculated that the rod might be a harpoon, and the man’s closed eye and scarred brow the result of an encounter with a whale.
On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life.