Inside the Ronald C. Hill Collection

Presented by Heather Sonntag, with special guests Jeff Brouws and Tim Tonge

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

YouTube Link

After spending nearly 15 months processing the Ronald C. Hill Collection of approximately 27,000 items including color transparencies, negatives, and prints, Heather Sonntag sees Ron Hill as “the whole rail-fan package.” Join us to hear how Heather first learned about railroad photography through Ron’s impeccable camera work that spans 60 years from 1957 to 2018. She will provide an overview of Ron’s long career in heritage train preservation, book publishing, darkroom printing, and rail-fan tripping. Also focusing on his color slides, Heather will showcase Ron’s tremendous “roadside railroad photography” (coined by Jeff Brouws) from the Center’s Visual Heritage Archive, celebrating the many zingers along the mainlines and narrow gauge tracks in Ron’s beloved Rocky Mountain West and elsewhere across North America.

Ronald C. Hill (1937-2023) recently passed away on January 23, 2023, at the age of 85. Ron gifted his collection to the Center, which spans from the 1950s to the 2010s and includes coverage from much of the United States, western Canada, and Europe. Read more about Ron’s tremendous legacy on our website:


Heather Sonntag joined the Center in 2020 as an associate archivist. She holds a doctorate in cultural history with a focus on 19th-century photography albums and a master’s of library and information studies from UW-Madison. She has interned with the Library of Congress, and also works as an assistant archivist of visual materials at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Jeff Brouws is a member of the board of directors for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and had been a friend to Ron Hill for over 50 years. He brings the Center knowledge of 19th and 20th-century photography and a broad background in publishing, with seven photography books to his credit. His photographs can be found in numerous public and private collections.

Tim Tonge is a member of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and knew Ron Hill since 1977 when he met him at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Tim was browsing the book section and admiring one in particular, which he voiced out loud to the man next to him. The stranger (and coincidentally author of that publication) said “thank you.” That began a 45-year friendship between Ron and Tim. The two have traveled together across California, New Mexico, and Wyoming as well as the CRP&A conferences.


This event is free.
This presentation will be recorded and be made available on our YouTube page,





Ron Hill at Tehachapi, California, in 1977. Photograph by Jeff Brouws


Canadian Pacific FM C-liner no. 4052 at Fernie, British Columbia, Canada, on August 20, 1966. Photograph by Ron Hill, Hill-21-02-17