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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DelMarVa Model Railroad Club holds Holiday Train ShowMy Eastern Shore, November 23rd
The show takes place on the second floor of Camelot Hall at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club, 103 E. State St., Delmar. The club promises something for everyone with more than 6,000-sq.-ft. and 10 train layouts in Z/N/HO/S/O/G scale including rare pre- ...Read more
'All aboard' for model railroading funOrange Leader, November 22nd
To celebrate November as National Model Railroad Month, Grace Lutheran Church, 2300 Eddleman Road in Orange, along with the Southeast Texas Model Railroad Club is hosting a Model Railroad Open House 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday, November 29 and 12...Read more
What To Do: Holiday season goes into high gearThe Unionville Times, November 21st
Visitors to “A Longwood Gardens Christmas” can also check out Longwood's Garden Railway — a whimsical display set into motion with G-scale model trains. This is the 14th year that the railway has delighted visitors with special water features and...Read more
Trains of Williamsburg will be Dec. 5The Clermont Sun, November 20th
On December 5th from 5 – 9 p.m. Williamsburg will hold the annual Christmas Walk with the “Trains of Williamsburg” on display. This one night event has become one of the premier events in our area and we look forward to seeing our streets filled with...Read more
Train show evokes history, nostalgiaTehachapi News, November 17th
Thomas McNesby, president of the Lancaster and Northwest Railroad Club, adjusts a “G” scale train during the start of the Autumn Model Train Show at West Park's recreation facility on Nov. 15. The entire track set displayed scenes created by club members...Read more
“I Have Always Loved Trains” – Walt DisneyMiceChat, November 16th
Not hard to imagine that if he had not become an artist, life on the railroad might have been where Walt would have found himself. That spirit of adventure that took him to France in 1917 as an ambulance driver would have been right at home out on the...Read more
Nashville's annual model train event runs Nov. 14-16Columbia Daily Herald, November 12th
The exhibit features collections from local train enthusiasts and includes train layout sizes from the Z scale all the way up to larger G scale, providing visitors with incredibly detailed, scaled landscapes along each train's route. In addition to...Read more
Hundreds turn out for 26th Annual Pocahontas Chapter NRHS 'Railfest'Bluefield Daily Telegraph, November 9th
He also operates Beaver Creek Railroad, a G Scale Modular Railroad, out of Kannapolis, N.C. “I met Kelley, Massie, president of the Pocahontas Chapter NRHS, and decided to come up here. I didn't know how big this show was. I like going to two or three ...Read more