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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Train layout collectors use dedication to keep on trackNew Bern Sun Journal, February 28th
Margaret Gibson helps set up the miniature village that she and her husband, Wayne, brought to the annual Train Show being held this weekend at the Shriners Temple in downtown New Bern. Chuck Beckley/Sun Journal. By Charlie Hall, Sun Journal Staff ...Read more
Music, ABC sale, train show to highlight busy weekendNew Bern Sun Journal, February 23rd
The Pamlico Musical Society will present Beleza on Saturday night at the Old Theater in Oriental. The 7:30 p.m. concert will feature a fusion of flamenco, American soul and Brazilian rhythms. Tickets are $20 and will be available at Nautical Wheelers...Read more
Visitors toot horn for SCW Railroad Club's latest workYourWestValley.com, February 10th
The grand opening “Hobo” party for the train display was celebrated Saturday with food and drinks. The G-Scale Division train display is at Beardsley Park in Sun City West and runs 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday...Read more
19th Annual Model Train Show and Swap MeetNorth Shore Now, February 10th
The WIZ KidZ, who will be bringing Z scale trains. These are models so small that a layout can be built in a cigar box. The West Bend, Jackson and Southern will showing examples of G scale equipment that is most frequently used to create outdoor garden ...Read more