J. Young, Jr.
1929 ~ 2004
“JJ” worked for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad.
He moved to Binghamton in 1959 and learned the wonders
of photography while working for Stickley Sivers Photo.
He later took a job in Broome Technical Community College
audio-visual department where he started a camera club,
teaching students the finer qualities of photography.
This led to the creation of the photography classes for
which he became an instructor, and which are now part of
Broome Community College Communications Curriculum.
JJ retired in 1995, and returned to West Virginia.
He is considered by many to be among the world's leading rail
photographers, with many of his photos being published in books and
magazines around the world. He had a special talent for bringing life
to black-and-white still photography, and was always willing to teach
While “Flashbulb Young” was not known for taking color slides of trains,
his eye for capturing the essence of rail photography in our humble
qualifies JJ as an honorary train slide shooter.
John, we are told, was a great railroad story teller.
Everything from how he missed Thanksgiving dinner because he got to
riding a B&O train out of Wheeling (a cab ride, on steam... he knew
engineers) and somehow wound up somewhere in the backwoods of PA,
to the tales of his beloved “Malfunction Junction.”
A friend recalls JJ's “barf” hats; “He liked to wear these all-cotton
welder's hats, but always found them in color combinations
that were not known in nature, usually a mash of a
half dozen colors that looked like the result of an explosion
in a Sherwin Williams paint store. The image I have in my mind
is seeing him standing along the ex-Erie across from the
NYS&W engine house in mid August; jeans, no shirt, but barf hat,
waiting for the D&H to send an Alco powered train west,
calling ‘Here, train! Here, train...' ”
Another friend says, “John was the most mobile railfan I knew,
even though to the best of my knowledge he never drove a car.
Why drive? He had friends. He would have made a terrible driver though,
while seated next to you in traffic as that train was rolling by,
he could cuss and growl with the best of ‘em. ‘They're out for
a Sunday drive and had to start on Friday to get there on time.'
His favorite was ‘They're out for a walk and took their #%*! car with
Chasing with John was not just good times, but great times.”
John was honored by the former Governor Underwood of West Virginia
as being a “state hero” for his documentation of West Virginia's
history, especially in and around the Wheeling area.
JJ's photos and stories are on permanent display at the old B&O
in Wheeling, now part of WV Northern Community College.
I guess you could say JJ'll always be hanging around the tracks.
Per his wishes, his ashes were spread on the wye at St. Albans.
Our thanks go to JJ's sister-in-law, Terry Martens, and others
for this information.
"TraiNutz" © 2012 by Andy Romano
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