Merry Christmas, WNY&P Style

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Merry Christmas from Laughing Frog Images!

This year’s card takes us back to February of 2003, and the early days of the Western New York and Pennsylvania (WNY&P) Railroad.  The WNY&P is a part of the Livonia Avon and Lakeville (LA&L) family of railroads.

We’re at Niobe Junction, New York on this brisk February morning to see two LA&L Alco C424m’s heading west to Corry, PA on the former Norfolk Southern / Conrail / Erie Lackawanna / Erie Railroad mainline.

Niobe Junction is at the east end of what was a separated section of double track.  Typically, when railroads had a double track mainline, they kept the tracks parallel to each other.  I seem to recall having read somewhere (and I can’t find the source now) that the line separation was made due to issues with the eastbound (uphill) grade and the effect that it had on eastbound perishable (iced) food freight – something to do with the ice shifting in the cars.  It was one of those interesting railroad history stories.  Just wish I could find it instead of relying on a crowded memory…

Anyway, on this fine February morning, we see two spotless Alcos, each 35+ years young (and still around today!), heading west to Corry, PA.

They’re passing an unusual sign warning drivers of “increased train traffic”, as the WNY&P is about to resume through freight service on the line between Meadville, PA and Hornell, NY.

Why were they headed to Corry as light engines?

A customer in Corry had a slight problem.

A freight car was stuck – as in frozen stiff, and it needed to be moved.  The two Centuries headed west from the terminal in Falconer, NY, freed the car for the customer, and headed home.

That’s customer service by the WNY&P in the spirit of the Erie Lackawanna’s “Friendly Service Route”!

Peace. Love. Joy.

Well, here in the U.S., we’re in the middle of the Christmas rush – those that haven’t shopped are watching the clock tick, and those that are selling are trying to influence those who still have to shop.  And so it goes…

Around the world, millions are already traveling or preparing to travel.

There are a lot of things going on – and somewhere in the middle of it all, peace. love and joy are out there.

So why am I writing this in such broad terms?


Demographic reports tell me that Laughing Frog Images is currently followed beyond the U.S. in thirteen (13) countries around the world, plus one (1) U.S. Territory.  That’s just those who follow Laughing Frog Images’ Facebook page.  I can’t tell where those of you who follow Laughing Frog Images on Google+ or via our Blog are from, nor can I tell where every visitor to each medium is located.  Let’s just say that I’m amazed and humbled by it all, and encouraged to see that the following keeps growing.

Those demographics also tell me that there’s much more to this holiday season beyond wishing every one of you a simple “Merry Christmas”.

Among you who follow the Frog, there are a lot of people in a lot of places around the world celebrating their own religious, ethnic and cultural traditions, seasons and events.

I’m not even going to pretend that I know what all of them are, nor am I going to try and fake it by trying to wish everyone a happy this and merry that.  Odds are that I’d likely make a mistake or two (or more), and perhaps make a fool out myself in the process.

So, the Frog is simply going to wish everyone out there reading this three simple and universal things:

That there may be peace for your, your families, and friends.

That you take time to love yourself (not selfishly, but to take care of yourself), your family, your friends, your pets, and even those who aren’t your favorite folks.

That you take the time to find the joy in this season.

The Frog has been quiet lately – between the day job and family and friends, the Frog has been very, very busy.  He’s tired and looking forward to a little downtime.  You probably won’t see a new post until early in the New Year.  He’s also realized that churning out an informative, interesting, and entertaining blog and an interesting website and product selection is easier than it sounds when one already has a full-time job!


Don’t be this guy!

Look at this poor little thing.

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Worn out from holiday shopping – he just gave out on the wall.

Holiday shopping can do that to you!

We have a solution!

There’s one day left to take advantage of Laughing Frog Images’ 2015 holiday sale.

25% off everything on except our books (yeah, there’s always a catch!).

There’s still time to get what you want your way by Christmas if you find yourself in that situation….

Or, because you feel like this little guy, get yourself something!

Even if you don’t… safe and happy holidays to you and yours from Laughing Frog Images.

Reflections on the USS Arizona

I have been to Pearl Harbor once.

Coincidentally, it was ten years ago today – December 7, 2005.

That day, by virtue of being on the last boat out to the Arizona Memorial, I experienced something that most people don’t – the internment of a Pearl Harbor survivor’s ashes on the USS Arizona.

I saw the gathering of family, Honor Guard, and current military personnel for the ceremony.

While I wasn’t a part of the ceremony, I was certainly moved by it.

There were few words being spoken as people took their places at the Memorial as we were leaving (it was a private ceremony).

There didn’t need to be any words.

You felt the significance of what happened there in 1941, and was happening there that day.

The feelings were more than any words could say.

It still moves me today as I write this.

The Arizona was seeping fuel oil that day, and, to my knowledge, she still does.

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Perhaps it is her way of weeping for all who gave their lives that day.

Maybe she weeps as a symbol for all who have given their lives at war.

I don’t claim to have any answers about what happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 or why.

Nor can I really grasp man’s inhumanity to man throughout history.

Or today.

All I can do is sit here and be moved by a ten year old image and wonder “why?”

It’s a very broad “why” that’s not limited to Pearl Harbor.  Pearl Harbor is just one part of that “why?”

I wonder why about a lot of events that have cost mothers their sons and daughters, and children their mothers and fathers.

I wonder how people can kill other people because they (fill in the blank).

I wonder, and I just don’t understand.

I probably never will understand.

Maybe it’s because I’m a photographer that I see and feel things in pictures, and believe that a picture can carry and convey a meaning – no words necessary.

I think that the USS Arizona weeps for us all.

N&W 1218

On August 18, 1987, there was a passenger excursion from Bellevue, OH to Columbus, OH and return behind Norfolk and Western Class A 1218.

The train traveled on the Norfolk and Western mainline between the Lake Erie docks at Sundusky, OH and Columbus, OH.

This was the largest steam engine I had ever seen in service, and was the first and last time I saw 1218 run. She hasn’t run in years, and may never run again.  You can click here to learn more about N&W 1218.  She’s currently at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, VA not far from her birthplace.

Chasing a steam excursion on the flatlands of west-central Ohio is much different than chasing a steam excursion in Western Pennsylvania. Let’s just say that the hills and curves make this a lot easier to do on Sand Patch, the Wheeling Pike, and Sand Patch!

You’ll note that this was another gray sky day. The more that I scan, the more it seems like Mr. Blue Sky had most of the same days off that I did in the 1980’s.

In deference to the gray skies, most of this gallery has been replicated in black and white. It’s more complimentary to the gray sky, and steam locomotives in general. The black and white emulates Kodak’s Panatomic X film. It was so gray this day that I shot the originals on Kodachrome 200 slide film.

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The Mail Pouch Barn at Attica Junction appeared in many photographs in the 1950’s, as this line was originally owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad and it was one of the last bastions of Pennsy steam. Things had grown in somewhat since the 1950’s – probably because there was no ash and related “stuff” from steam engines to kill the vegetation – so it was it a very tight shot in 1987, and not at all what I’d hoped for.  I checked Google Earth before finishing this post, and not surprisingly, the barn is gone.

None of these shots are in my honest opinion going to grace a wall in large format, but they’re more than suitable for a mug, water bottle, or small print – and for your enjoyment.

Enjoy a look at N&W 1218 in the N&W 1218, Bellevue to Columbus gallery on Laughing Frog Images.