PH&D books at PH&DRRHS HoboFest

The Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society will have the both of the Frog’s books – “Port Huron and Detroit Railroad and Connections in Color, 1982-1984” and the “Port Huron and Detroit Railroad in Black and White, 1984” – available at their 2015 HoboFest, September 11-12 2015.

All proceeds from the books available at HoboFest go to the Society for their maintenance, restoration and preservation activities.

HoboFest event details can be found by clicking here.  The Society also has a webpage and Facebook page.

These books are the first two creations in the “Through My Lens” series, and show the PH&D as I saw it from my first visit in 1982 until the last run on December 13, 1984.

To the best of my knowledge, these are the only two books ever published that focus on the PH&D.

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The color book includes images of the PH&D from Tappan Tower to St. Clair, as well as the GTW, CN, and Chessie System (C&O/PM) in Port Huron.

The black and white book also covers the line from Tappan Tower to Sr. Clair and features photographs from the cab of PH&D Alco S-2 #60 and caboose #62 on a St. Clair run.  Also included are topographic maps of the PH&D with photo locations, PH&D forms and a look at train orders from the Grand Trunk Western.  Way back when, paper, not computers and smartphones ran the railroads, and it’s not often you can see how things used to be.

Can’t make HoboFest, but you still want the books (as only a complete set will do)?

The books are available at Laughing Frog Images (click the “Get Our Books!” link at the top of the page) and CreateSpace.  For each book purchased through Laughing Frog Images or CreateSpace Laughing Frog Images will make a $5.00 donation per book to the PH&DRRHS.

The book is also available on Amazon, but due to the associated costs of selling through Amazon, there is no donation made to the Society.



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!

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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.

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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.

PH&D Collages added!

For the 30th anniversary of the end of the PH&D as we knew it, I created five PH&D collages as viewed through my lenses and captured on Kodachrome from 1982-1984.

Four versions of the PH&D collages were donated to and auctioned off at the December 2014 meeting of the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society to help them in their fundraising efforts.

Now, all five are available on Laughing Frog Images in the Port Huron and Detroit Color Collages gallery.  Any of them will print in full in 2×3 format – any other ratio will result in cropping.

As with the main Port Huron and Detroit in Color gallery, half of the profits from this gallery will be donated to the PH&D HS.

If you don’t purchase a PH&D product from Laughing Frog Images, please visit their page, and consider joining or making a donation to assist them in bringing Alco S-1 #52 home!


Port Huron & Detroit in color, 1982-84

I discovered the Port Huron & Detroit Railroad with a forgotten cohort in July of 1982.

An Alco-powered shortline in Michigan, the Port Huron & Detroit was something new to me.  Alco switchers were all but gone in Western Pennsylvania. And the folks there put up with, educated, tolerated, and supported a young railroad photographer.

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I was shooting Kodachrome 64 – each slide cost me just shy of a quarter for film, postage and processing. I was making $4-5 dollars an hour through various summer enterprises. And I lived about 300 miles away.  30+ years later, I wish I’d shot more… I have too many memories of the people that made the railroad what it was, and too few pictures of them.

Back then, I was still mastering Kodachrome, let along photography in general.  After working the scanner for hours, it’s been hours of cleaning, editing, and fixing.  The PH&D gallery can be found on Laughing Frog Images by clicking here.

I made several trips to the Port Huron & Detroit through the end of the railroad’s time shooting black and white and color (that’s how you had to do it back then – no click of a mouse in a software program like there is these days!).  In December of 1984, the Port Huron & Detroit was purchased by CSX.  I still keep in touch with a couple former employees. Doesn’t seem like 30 years ago…

The Frog is working on a black and white Port Huron & Detroit gallery – hopefully it will be up before Thanksgiving.

Port Huron was also served by the Grand Trunk Western and Chessie System (former Chesapeake and Ohio, and before that, Pere Marquette).  The Chessie line was still referred to as the “PM”, and had a carfloat operation to Sarnia, Ontario that I never shot…  (Yes, I regret it – but the lighting was bad in the morning, and by the time the light came around, I was chasing the PH&D.)  You could drive in to the Trunk’s engine facility, check in – and as long as you stayed off of the tracks and engines – and didn’t do anything stupid, all was well.  Look for future blog posts and galleries from these railroads I came to know because of the PH&D.

The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad Historical Society’s Facebook Page can be found here.

Half of all profits from this gallery will be donated to the Port Huron & Detroit Historical Society.