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
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: G Scale Trains
Source: Google News
15 Ways to Rock the L.A. County FairLA Magazine, August 28th
You can't actually take a ride on the G-scale Fairplex Garden Railroad, which comes complete with a miniatureRandy's Donuts, but you can watch the tiny train run 10,000 square feet of track. Lift Your Glass Want to sip like a pro? Pop into the Wine...Read more
Garden railroad hosts annual Relay for Life fundraiserCecil Whig, August 28th
D&M Railroad, owed by couple Martha and Don Lebo, is a garden railroad that winds its way through the backyard of the Lebos' Elkton home. The garden railroad features five tracks that run through the countryside, small towns and the coal mine. Visitors...Read more
Train Days returns to Los Altos: Museum highlights model railroadingLos Altos Town Crier, August 27th
Participants include the Live Steamers from the Bay Area Garden Railway Society (G scale); the Diablo Pacific Short Line (G scale); the Golden Gate Lionel Railroad Club (O scale); a private collector's Swiss Narrow Gauge (HO scale); Peninsula NTrak and ...Read more
Train club to hold Wm. Crooks Day event Aug. 30thNorthland Press, August 25th
The William Crooks Locomotive was the first locomotive to operate in the state of Minnesota. It was built between 1861 and 1865, and it first provided service a year later in 1862 for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, a rail line that eventually...Read more
Model display: Little trains, big attractionSalisbury Post, August 23rd
There's a “wide gamut” of merchandise, according to Leah Cook, a staff member at the museum who helped organize the train show. Vendors carried model train and layout pieces in all sizes — Z, N, HO, O and G scale. “The model boats are one of the most ...Read more
Train club holds open house in WarrenWKBN.com, August 22nd
Membership is open to people who love trains. “Anyone. You don't have to have a G-scale train. Many of our members do not have their own layout or their own trains and this kind of fills in for those just interested in railroading,” Riverside Railroad...Read more
Model train exhibit and free workshop at Mesa LibraryEast Valley Tribune, August 12th
Train enthusiasts will experience more than 300 feet of G-scale tracks with double main lines, garden size trains (1.5 to 2 times the size of O-scale Lionel trains), and dioramas with scenes from Arizona rail towns. ABTO members will be on hand to...Read more
Garden Railroad TrainingWeekly Alibi, August 6th
Garden Railroad Volunteers Garden Railroad Volunteers operate and maintain the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden's G-scale model trains and exhibit while talking to the public about the various trains in operation. No admission is required - when you arrive...Read more