G scale model trains are the workhorses of garden railways around the world. Running on 1 gauge track, 1:22.5 G scale trains have been around since 1969. That’s when the German company Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk released its new line of brightly colored, highly durable, plastic LGB (for Lehmann Gross Bahn, or "Lehmann Big Train") locomotives and railcars to the world.
Despite its relatively recent association with LGB, garden railways were popularized in England during the earliest years of the 20th century. Precursors to G scale, garden railway trains ran on 1 gauge tracks, although O gauge tracks were also known to loop and circle around British backyards, which generally had more room for this sort of thing than the interiors of most British homes.
Garden railways did not catch on in the U.S. until the 1920s. In 1924, at the Los Angeles Fair, the Fairplex Garden Railroad was erected under a tent. In 1935, the layout moved outdoors where it has remained ever since, the largest and longest running railway of its kind in the world. In 1997, the tracks and trains were swapped out from their original gauge, which was ½-inch to 1-foot or 1:24, to proper G gauge.
Despite this early success and acceptance, garden railways remained a novelty in the U.S. before World War II—American Flyer promoted "Backyard Railroading" in its advertising, but never sold many trains designed for outdoor use. After the war, with the smaller O scale and HO scale trains firmly entrenched among model railroaders, the notion that big trains would ever again gain acceptance must have seemed fanciful. Which is why the introduction of the LGB G scale in 1969 was such a gutsy move.
LGB did not help its cause in the U.S. by initially offering only European trains—there’s probably only so much fun a boy in Iowa is going to have with a model train labeled "Austrian Federal" or "Rhaetian Railway." The new scale did not fare much better in England, where traditions were even more firmly established.
But in 1972, Model Railroader magazine published an article about LGB. From then on, the G scale began its rise in acceptance among an increasing number of model train enthusiasts. Today, LGB makes G scale trains for all the popular U.S. road names—from B&O to Santa Fe—all of which run on brass tracks that are designed to weather the elements.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Airfix Model Railways
Postwar Lionel Trains Library
Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
Clubs & Associations
- Train Collectors Association
- National Model Railroad Association
- Lionel Collectors Club of America
- Toy Train Operating Society
- National Association of S Gaugers, Inc.
- Train Collectors Society (U.K.)
- Lionel Operating Train Society
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Recent News: G Scale Trains
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Sample some wine paired with chocolateOrlando Sentinel, December 9th
Highlights this year will include the club's remodeled N-scale layout with ships docking and departing from the seaport and fishing village, two Z-scale train layouts, a Lionel train layout and a massive G-scale layout. Admission is a donation of a...Read more
Christmas season chugs into Sun City WestYourWestValley.com, December 8th
The club's new Garden (G-scale) outdoor railroad is also up and running from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays at Beardsley Park and when there are special rec center events at the park, such as Holiday in the Park on Dec 20. The G-scale layout will continue to be ...Read more
Seven Holiday Day Trips to NYC Worth TakingHamletHub, December 8th
A model-G scale train winding its way through a Hudson Valley landscape is new this year. Make a day of it by visiting the Everett Children's Adventure Garden. Kids can visit a series of interactive "train stops" that includes an artist's station, an...Read more
Midnight Madness Takes Over Ellicott City's Historic District FridayPatch.com, December 5th
Toy and model train layouts include a custom-built, 360 degree multi-tiered O-scale layout, a miniature Thomas the Tank Engine G-scale layout, and more! Bring a new unwrapped toy to support Toys for Tots and receive 50%off admission. Located at the B&O ...Read more
Golden Age of Train museum exhibit chronicles boom in transit, tourismThetribunepapers, December 2nd
These train enthusiasts scoured the real-life Saluda Grade to note landscape landmarks, even colors. The train runs continuously, during museum hours. So does Jim Hendley's larger G-scale model train, zipping on track around walls up near the ceiling...Read more
Train lovers gear up for Garden Christmas Open House and TourEast Valley Tribune, December 1st
ABTO, founded in 1996, promotes and advances “large-scale garden railroading in Arizona,” the group's website states. Members of the group are fans of the “G-scale” garden railroads, the largest of their kind, with train cars that are 1/24th scale and...Read more
Trains, Trees, & Traditions- Nixon LibraryKTLA, November 27th
In addition, there will be 5 G-scale model trains running throughout the exhibition at the library. The holiday tree exhibit was first displayed at the library in 1993 by the Docent Guild, who host the library, as a way to bridge the Nixon family...Read more
Middle Ga. Weekend: Model Trains, Holiday Music, And Broadway Comes To ...GPB, November 27th
There will also be an O-scale Lionel layout, where railroad cars experience “hot box” fires, a Christmas Village, a Thomas the Tank Engine layout on Sodor Island, a modern train on the World's Greatest Hobby layout, and a large G-scale floor display...Read more