PH&D in Black & White

I finally got around to uploading over 70 black and white images of the PH&D in black and white, and a couple of the GTW and Amtrak in Port Huron, to the galleries.

These images represent most of what is found in the Frog’s second book – “The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad in Black and White 1984“.


I struggle with admitting that I found my black and white work to be more stirring and evocative than my color work.  I still can’t explain that to myself.  Perhaps it’s the nostalgia that black and white photography brings with it.  A connotation of times past?  I don’t really know, but it stirred me as I was scanning the negatives and working on the book.  And it still does.

I spent a great deal of time working on fixing 15+ years of less than ideal negative storage.  It wasn’t until sometime around 2000 that these negatives found a home in archival plastic pages that then made their way to binders for flat storage.  They’re still not perfect.  As I mention in the gallery commentary, if you want to order a certain image, and notice that there’s something I missed, please let me know and I’ll fix it and report the image.  I just reached a point where it became apparent to me that some people really want to see these images, and they can’t do that if they’re stuck on my computer.

As I write this, I’m looking at the image above and there’s a part of me saying “get rid of that pole and the wires above the engine!”  I don’t know why that thought came to me now.  And there’s a part of me saying “but that’s not how it was – so just leave it alone!”  And that’s the part of me that’s winning.   All of that said, if there’s anyone that does want the pole removed to make this “THE” PH&D in black and white image for you – let me know and I will take it out (and add a disclaimer to the caption for the sake of being honest!).

All of that said, as I look at the picture more, it occurs to me that there is so much in this image that speaks.

The trackage itself tells a story – these are the roundhouse leads.  The wood-sided buildings.  Old naked ties where there once was a track.  The PH&D main fading off into the distance.  The Detroit Edison power plant in Marysville off in the distance (it’s gone now).  And then, there’s the main subject.  ALCo S-2 # 60 and her caboose.  There’s the last light of the day softly and evenly highlighting the details on the 60.  The pole hanging by the cab speaks of an earlier time, but the “No Foot-Board” reminders and rotary beacon on the cab pull us into the 1980’s.

I didn’t get all of what this picture said 31 years ago.  I’m not sure I get all of what it says now.  If I keep going, I might test the saying that a picture does in fact say a thousand words.  But that might bore you.

So, I’ll stop now and invite you to check out the Port Huron and Detroit in black and white as seen in 1984 on Laughing Frog Images.

Half of all profits on products from the PH&D galleries go to the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society to support all that they do. 

For each PH&D book sold through Laughing Frog Images or our CreateSpace Store, $5.oo is donated to the PH&DRRHS.

PH&D in black & white published!

Yes, I know, the Frog and the blog have been quiet lately.  Two reasons.  First, the day job that helps keep this going has been very, very hectic of late.

Second, “The Port Huron and Detroit Railroad in Black and White, 1984” is now available on CreateSpace via Laughing Frog Images and also through the Port Huron & Detroit Railroad Historical Society at their events!

2015-08-24_7-02-52 proof full cover

For every book purchased through Laughing Frog Images or the Frog’s CreateSpace e-store, a $5.00 donation will be made to the PH&DRRHS.  The donation also applies to the PH&D and Connections in Color when purchased through those channels.

The black and white book concludes the two-book series on the PH&D if for no other reason that I’ve now shared and published everything I have that’s worthy of sharing.

The PH&DRRHS’s HoboFest starts on September 11, so I’d been working to meet that delivery deadline most every spare minute I had the last few weeks.

And then, when I’d finally finished the book and placed the initial print order, along with the feelings of pride, accomplishment and completion, there was a sense of “end.”

I don’t really know how to describe it.  I still don’t understand it.  Almost like hearing Porky Pig saying “Th-the-th-th-that’s all folks…”

That aside, it really was quite an experience to revisit the past and the PH&D in black and white.  I never shot that much black and white.  I was never that enamored with it, even though I am a great admirer of the works of O. Winston Link, Jim Shaughnessy, J. Parker Lamb and others.  Maybe it’s because they shot “then” while I was shooting “now.”  In 2015, “now” is “then”, and maybe that’s part of why this book hit me in a way I hadn’t imagined.  There’s just something about seeing the PH&D in black and white that’s very different than seeing it in color.  I can’t explain that either.  I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I “see” things in my black and white work that I didn’t “see” in my color work.

I hope that the readers feel the same way.




PH&D in Color Published!

The Frog is finally pleased and able to announce that The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad and Connections in Color 1982-1984 is officially in print and available via Laughing Frog Images and the Laughing Frog Images CreateSpace estore!

This book has been in the making for over 30 years – at least in my mind!  Way back on the last day of the PH&D in December of 1984, the notion that I would be able to scan my PH&D slides at 5000dpi, use software to help compensate for shooting in bad lighting and for my primitive abilities with Kodachrome 64, and self-publish a book was beyond imagination.

PH&D in Color cover proof image 480

This project started out with the intention of being a fine-art book, with a hard cover and printed on high-gloss paper.  As the project grew, so did the price.  While my intentions were noble, it became apparent that I might not purchase my own book because it was so expensive!  So, the project went on hiatus while I searched for a new publishing option.

The passing of the PH&D didn’t get much notice.  Keep in mind that this was back in the days without the internet, without message boards, without email, and cell phones.  So, in a way, this story has never been told.  Telling the story in a way that is accessible to anyone is important to me. And the research continued.

I finally found a publisher that offered a way to tell the story in color and at a price that most everyone could afford. Granted, I had to give up the hard cover and high-gloss paper – it’s a soft cover book on trade paper (and the photo reproduction challenges that go with it), but the story could finally be told.  Naturally, the project that I’d started was in a format that was not compatible with CreateSpace, so I had to start all over again.

And here we are on April 18.

After more digital proofs than I care to think about, and several physical proofs, it’s finally “real”.  I have learned a new appreciation for editors and proof readers, as every time I reviewed a proof, I found something else.  I have now either found everything, or looked at the book so much that I’m blind to any remaining errors.  Somehow, I know when I receive my print copy, something is going to jump out at me…

For the people of the PH&D that I got to know from 1982 to 1984, those still with us, and those who have passed, I am pleased to share with you The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad and Connections in Color from 1982 to 1984.

The B&A Turkey Train


Holiday traditions aren’t all what they used to be, especially in the corporate world.

Parties during the holidays are now all “Holiday Parties”, regardless of their timing and which holiday they’re really celebrating. That is, if your company still has a party.

Acknowledging the employees with “something” isn’t what it used to be.

Change is what this image speaks to.

It’s December 11, 1994. I’m at the north end of Brownville, Maine along the main line of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad waiting for a train. My Canon T-70 and Sigma 28-70mm lens are around my neck. There’s K64 in the camera. And, it’s a tad cold… But I’m not waiting for just any train… I’m waiting for the Turkey Train!

It was kind of what it sounds like – a train carrying turkeys.  Not live ones mind you, but fresh turkeys.  For the employees.  As part of the railroad’s tradition that was as much a part of the holidays for B&A (that’s how the road was known to many – and not to be confused with the Boston and Albany Railroad either!) employees as was cutting down a Christmas tree.  A train.  Carrying turkeys.  The Turkey Train.

So, I’ve got a borrowed Digital 8 camcorder set up on a tripod.  My camera is around my neck.  I’m getting cold.  And, it seems like the only thing moving is the clouds.  They’re moving slowly – but they’re moving.  I really wanted to sit in the car and wait – but I had never shot a train here, so I didn’t know how far out I’d hear it – or if I’d even hear it, before it got to me.  So, I waited.  In the cold.  And got colder.  And waited (you get the point).

Finally… the blat of an air horn  punctures the silence as the train approaches the bridge.  The Turkey Train is here!  Press “start” on the camcorder, pop the lens cap off and shoot.

BAR Turkey Train, BV, 12-11-94 crop wm itdbd9_004 360w

A GP-38 passes by with a boxcar full of turkeys and the road’s business cars.  Wheels click on the rail joints, and get quieter as the train continues south.  It’s all over in a minute or so.  The quiet returns.  It’s broken again when at the train whistles for crossings south of Brownville.

The moment is over.

As far as I know, this was the last Turkey Train.  The decline of paper and allied industries had been affecting the B&A for years.  Potato traffic had almost entirely been taken over by trucks (some attribute this to the poor connecting service provided by the Penn Central Railroad in the late 1960s and early 1970s).  Maine’s economy was in transition – and it wasn’t kind to the railroads.  The B&A was purchased in early 1995 and became part of the Canadian American Railroad (CDAC).  The CDAC was not long lived – it later became the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad under new ownership who tried to make a go of things as the traffic continued to wane.  The MMA had a tragic incident in Megantic, PQ in 2013, and it too is gone.

But I have this image. And the memories of that day.

I’ve got some video of the Turkey Train to post on the Frog’s YouTube channel of this train as soon as I master some degree of proficiency with video editing.  It’s not the greatest, but then again – what most people could afford in the way of video equipment in 1994 was vastly different from the quality that you can get these days in your smartphone.

There will be a B&A gallery up on Laughing Frog Images as scanning progresses.

Thanks for taking a trip back to 1994 and better days for the B&A and its’ employees.