Calling All Neil Young/Locomotive Superfans: The Singer Is Auctioning Off His Model Trains

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images / Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

If you love both classic rock and miniature locomotives, have we got an auction for you. Canadian rock icon Neil Young is auctioning off some of his personal belongings, and the set includes some of his cherished model train collection, including train control devices he invented himself.

Fans of his music may not realize it, but Young has been an obsessive model train buff since childhood. According to, he got his first train set at age 5, and continued to expand his set in his family’s basement well into his teens (despite the shocks he would get from running the trains after the basement flooded during rainstorms).

As an adult, he poured his musical fortune into building up a massive collection of rare models and creating a sprawling rail system at home, which he used to bond with his son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy. He eventually bought out the prominent toy train company Lionel, becoming a model train titan in his own right. He also invented controls that were easier for Ben to use, creating a digital system that can control 99 trains at the same time.

Julien's Auctions

Some pieces from Young’s huge train collection will go on sale from Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on December 9, giving fans a chance to own a few pieces of both music and model train history. Some of the prototypes and trains on sale are worth up to $15,000. Some, like the HORDE Tour Psychedelic Vanderbilt Hudson locomotive, Young even brought on tour with him. (In one instance, Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon remembers him obsessively tinkering with a model cow to make it “moo” more realistically during dinner while they were on tour together in 1991.) Many of the trains are rare models that come from the Lionel archives, and some feature typewritten details about them by Young. One custom-painted train is even signed by Young.

The auction also features slightly-less-dweeby items, like Young’s guitars and classic cars, if that’s more your speed. You can check all the lots out here.