Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Must See Photo Collection of J.J. Young Jr.

When I was searching for a new modeling location for my Nickel Plate Road interests, it was an article by J.J. Young Jr. in the January 1979 issue of Railfan & Railroad that sold me on the idea to model the coal mining brachlines of the Wheeling District. As a W&LE employee from 1946-48, he worked as an operator and agent in places like Adena, Dillonvale, Warrenton, Mingo Junction and Terminal Junction. His experiences and photos in that article provide the foundation on which I hope to model the Adena Branch and the AC&NA lines out of Adena.

Each J.J. Young Jr. photograph is practically a story unto itself, and since reading his article I've eagerly sought out his photos.  Every photo helps open a window into past of daily operations and atmosphere of railroading in the Ohio Valley.

J.J. Young Jr. passed away in 2004 but in 2014 his widow Liz allowed access to his vast collection of negatives. Mr. Young's son, J.J. Young III and another photographer Sam Botts have so far scanned hundreds of negatives and uploaded them to a Flickr page.

For a long time the photos being added were railroad subjects around Binghamton, NY where J.J. spent considerable time teaching photography until 1995. However this past spring the action shifted to the B&O around West Virginia and SE Ohio. Finally a few tantalizing photos of the 1950's Nickel Plate on the Wheeling District and elsewhere got upoaded! Then nothing and later a return to the D&H and EL railroads with upstate New York as the backdrop.

Then in December the floodgates opened.

The past couple of weeks have seen his Flickr site come to life with a slew of updates with tons of Nickel Plate Road steam action on the Wheeling District and a few from his travels to Fostoria, Cleveland And Bellevue. Lately every couple of days a few images are added showing us new views of the Nickel Plate at work around Adena, Pine Valley or even a few unknown locations. Every photo brings delight to my son and I as we find new details or figure out what might have been going on in each picture.

If you are a fan of the Nickel Plate Road or of railroading in the coal mining areas of eastern Ohio then click the link below and enjoy the images!

J.J. Young Jr. Flickr Photo Collection

Thanks again to J.J. Young III and Sam Botts for sharing these incredible images with us!

I hope the pile of W&LE and NKP negatives is a big one!

If you'd like to read more about J.J. Young Jr. a brief article about him can be found here at the Archiving Wheeling website and the Flickr archive announcement at Trains Magazine.


  1. What a gold mine of photos. The quality is amazing too, far better than anything I've seen on any of the railroad pictures pages.

    I notice each of the photos is copyrighted "all rights reserved". Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think we can re-post any of them on our blogs without permission?

  2. Correct, permission is needed to re-post those photos. Which is why I didn't have any pictures accompany this blog post unfortunately.
    I'm glad you followed the link and check out his photos. Many of them I'm seeing for the first time, exciting stuff!

    I might pass out if he captured one of the area coal mines in a photos!