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.
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Recent News: G Scale Trains
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Train show brings railroad fans all aboardAlton Telegraph, November 29th
Model trains come in a number of sizes, from Z-scale (the smallest) to G-scale (most commonly used in outdoor garden displays). About 60 percent of model railroading is HO-scale, and N-scale accounts for another 30 percent. Electric model trains have...Read more
Greater Cincinnati's model train displays will take you on a nostalgic ride ...WCPO, November 29th
EJ features an immense year-round display of G-Scale trains using 2,000 cars, each one roughly the size of a loaf of bread. They run through three historically themed areas on two miles of track featuring more than 100 hand-built bridges, tunnels and...Read more
'Put magic behind it'The Durango Herald, November 28th
He was a young, struggling landscape architect. He recalls three episodes that helped launch his enterprise. One was the importation of German-made G-scale trains, which he discovered in a hobby shop in Baltimore in the 1970s. The set was a pricey $175...Read more
Boy's model train collection impressesLincoln Times-News, November 27th
Outside in the yard, Nathan operates a G-scale train that is equipped with a heat unit that operates on smoke fluid. It sounds like a real train coming around the bend with bells and whistles. The train is operated by a remote box which, along with the...Read more
Pasadena: Train garden fundraiser aids kids fighting cancerCapitalGazette.com, November 27th
Jim Smith and his grandson, Steve Pinnix, created a train garden with tunnels, a bridge and a pond. Their family tradition of crafting an outdoor menagerie of G-scale trains and train tracks - called the Clayville Railroad Christmas Display - has...Read more
Appalachian Model Train Show brings small trains, big displays to the arenaHuntington Herald Dispatch, November 26th
MORE TRAINS: There's one weekend left to see the magical Wonderland Express, one of the largest G-Scale temporary model train layouts on public display in the country, boasting more than 3,000 square fee, five levels, four scales and 600 feet of track ...Read more
Paramount hosts annual 'Festival of Trees and Trains'Huntington Herald Dispatch, November 25th
There's seven of the G-Scale trains (which stands for Garden scale, the largest model trains) running at all times, with 10 complete sets in all in the display including the trolley line, a coal train, the stairwell and Rail City lines, a valley and a...Read more
Model Railroad tour takes train enthusiasts for a rideSt. George Daily Spectrum, November 11th
Just one of 12 model railroad systems that will be open to the public this weekend during the Color Country Model Railroad tour, Schneider's G-scale, or Garden-scale outdoor trains, chug along through a miniature world he has created in the backyard of...Read more