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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Mark Simmons lands dream job bringing commercial nous to railway visitor ...South West Business, August 3rd
Mark has a keen interest in both heritage and model railways, a passion he says began as a child, watching trains running along the Brighton to Portsmouth line from his family home before getting his own Hornby train set. Settling into his new role...Read more
EXCHANGE: Trains entertain, educate botanical center guestsBelleville News-Democrat, August 3rd
In this June 21, 2015 photo, Blake Bigford, 2, of Andalusia, Ill., watches closely as the G-scale trains pass in front of him during the Garden Train Railway Exhibit grand reopening at the Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island, Ill. The Dispatch...Read more
Summer Model Train Show to be held Aug. 8 and 9Tehachapi News, July 29th
The club will host the Lancaster and Northwestern G Scale Club and its modular G Scale layout in addition to Tehachapi Loop Railroad Club's own HO layout headed by Wilson James, with toy trains/Lionel to be run by Doug Pickard. N-scale layouts will be ...Read more
The 25th annual Greater St. Louis Metro Area Model Train ShowSTLtoday.com, July 29th
In addition to seeing large train layouts, the show offers the opportunity to purchase hard-to-find model trains from dealers from across the country; including everything from wooden Thomas trains to large indoor/outdoor G scale trains and railroad ...Read more
Getting OutEllwood City Ledger, July 29th
Featured will be G scale, O scale and HO scale operating layouts and train-related vendors. A large rail memorabilia auction will begin at 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit the West Pittsburg station restoration project. Interested vendors or information: www...Read more
Natural materials key to building fairy garden magicMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26th
And as a naturalist, of course she couldn't resist adding some living plants, too. They include dwarf evergreens seen in previous G-scale model train exhibits at the Domes, as well as Scotch moss, sedum and begonias. "Many garden centers will have a...Read more
Group of garden railway hobbyists grows in popularity in the Twin CitiesMinneapolis Star Tribune, July 21st
Garden railroaders usually use G-scale trains, which are more rugged and less likely to tip over in the wind. Steve Monson, an electrical engineer from Brooklyn Park, said some model railroad enthusiasts losing their eyesight appreciate G-scale because...Read more
Arboretum opens ticket sales for Winter Lights ExhibitAsheville Citizen-Times, July 9th
Visitors can also enjoy the Arboretum's family-favorite, Rocky Cove Railroad, a G-Scale (garden scale) model train that demonstrates the coming of trains to Western North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century. This lighted model made its debut at...Read more