August 8, 2014

William S. Young ~ railroad photographer

Two years ago today, on August 8, 2012, William S. (Simrell) Young died at the Barnes Kasson hospital in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.

Although he is famous for his railroad photography, he photographed the notorious Juanita Musson for the San Francisco Chronicle at some point in his career and it was while researching for my article on Musson that I discovered his work.

Juanita Musson
date unknown
photo by William S. Young

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 30, 1928, he moved with his family to Cranford, New Jersey, with its Rahway Railroad, then to Starrucca, Pennsylvania, where he became infatuated with the Delaware and Hudson Railroad and the Erie's Starrucca Viaduct in Lanesboro.  He moved to Aiken, South Carolina, then returned to Starrucca in 2001 where he lived until his death.

Young began taking railroad photographs in 1941 at age 12; three years later he launched the first of what would be several railroad publications, many focused on short-line railroads, culminating in Railroading magazine, known for its elegant design and artful photography.

He spent his youth and working life in railroad history, journalism, and photography. In 1945, he rode on a single speed bike from Starrucca, PA to New Berlin, NY in pursuit of his dream and love of the Unadilla Valley Railroad.

RVRR No.15 crossing the bridge northbound at Ashwood Ave Summit, NJ 
nears the top of a 2.7-mile climb through the  Watchung Hills 
with a gradient reaching 3 percent.
Note #1 
"Steam Locomotive: A Continuing Portrayal of the Steam Tradition," 
Newsletter Number 1, October 1959. 
Editor and Publisher William S. Young, Susquehanna, PA. 
photo by William S. Young

William S. Young served in the U. S. Army during the Korean conflict in the United States as well as Germany.

Young authored the TRAINS magazine ShortLines column, and produced an album on the former Erie Railroad's Starrucca Viaduct, which is 8 miles from his family farm. For Young, part of the appeal of the short line is the intimate tie between the railroad and people who run it, an appeal evident in his black-and-white prints of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Vanishing steam was another favorite subject of his.

Young photographed for Classic Trains Magazine, His photo book about EMD F units, Covered Wagons, is considered a classic and his ShortLines is still a guide for many. He wrote and revised several railroad histories: Bridge of Stone, Tunkhannock Viaduct, and the Unadilla Valley Railroad.  He was active as well in  many genealogy and historical organizations. 

Young described himself as continually searching for "something more," according to Classic Trains magazine in its Summer 2002 issue. "I am always looking for something new about this English language of ours."

William S. Young images

Young, William S. "Covered Wagons: The Early Road Diesels of the Erie Lackawanna" (1976, Starrucca Valley Publications).

There is information about Juanita Musson on the Viewfinder: Juanita's Galley

Thanks, William, for the great pix and all the information about the "Little engines that could"!

Styrous® ~ Friday, August 8, 2014



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