The JJ Young, Jr Flickr Collection

2 weeks ago I  wrote about the Barriger Library and the wonderful historical resource it provides for North American railroading. Today I want to point out another great flickr library that myself and several of my fellow LEGO train builders have been drawing inspiration from. The JJ Young, Jr Library.

The John J. (JJ) Young, Jr. Railroad Photo Collection

CNR pacific #5588 is caught racing as speed with the engineer sounding the engines whistle....

For those of you who are unfamiliar with JJ Young, Jr. we invite you read the biography page on his Flickr site. Sam Botts is the page administrator and the one who has taken on the task of scanning his negatives. So far he has completed over 3,500 of his negatives, cleaning up the scratches and dust specs in the scans.

JJ started taking photographs in 1936 and continued shooting trains up until a few weeks before he passed away in November 2004. His photographs have appeared in many books and magazines over the years. JJ Young, Jr.’s prolific lifetime of railroad photography landed him on Trains Magazine’s list of the top 75 personalities in the history of American railroading.

JJ Young Jr’s son JJ Young, III and his widow Elizabeth Young have graciously allowed access to his negatives for them to be scanned, and presented on flickr for all to enjoy. Unfortunately JJ was not a great note taker, some negative sleeves are marked, most are not. However many knowledgeable people from the rail fan community have contributed to identifying the places and subjects of JJ’s photos when they can.

Newmanstown, PA

JJ Young Jr’s photos seem to be centered mostly around the North Eastern US, and some south down around Virginia. JJ’s photos are predominantly black and white, but the clarity, composition, detail, and subject matter of the photos come through in striking fashion. They are a fantastic window into the every day workings of the railroad.  And they are wonderful inspiration for LEGO train building.

The prototype for one of my own favorite models, the Western Maryland’s 4-6-6-4 Challengers, is capture beautifully below in one of JJ’s photos.

Bowest, PA

If you need some thing to inspire your building, JJ’s photos are an excellent place to start. His photos are awe inspiring.


One can almost here the thunder of the Baltmore & Ohio RR’s 2-8-8-4 EM-1 locomotive as it passes by the lens of JJ Young Jr. My own version of the EM-1 is several years old now and in need of a redesign. Every new photo of the EM-1s I see from JJ bring me closer to revisiting this build.

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