SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Biloxi native Earl Wetzel is passionate about preserving the history of the Coast through photography.
He might have the most comprehensive photographic history of the Gulf Coast. His collection covers roughly 1890 to 1980.
"It's been my hobby for about 45 years. I collect any and all pictures I can. I guess I'm the pictorial historian of the Coast," said Wetzel.
He has about 20 books filled with photographs depicting the past. Images from one end of the Coast to the other.
He is a firm believer in the old adage, "If you don't know where you've been, you don't know where you're going," and has organized his books by city and by era to give the photos context.
"A picture might be worth a thousand words, but if you don't know where or when it was, it's lost in time," says Wetzel.
He has become a bit of a Facebook sensation. He posts his photos on the social media site for everyone to see and enjoy.
He has even come up with a name for his journey through time.
"I call my collection a window in time. It's like standing there and seeing what the photographer saw all those years ago," according to Wetzel.
So many of the buildings featured in the photos have been destroyed by hurricane or fires. Many have just succumbed to progress.
Because of that, he and others who see the pictures can get pretty emotional when seeing the way things used to be.
"I've had people cry. I've had people kiss me and say thanks for the memories and for saving them," Wetzel said.