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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Lifelong Love of Trains Reflected in HobbyThe Independent, April 23rd
"My wife and I bought a G scale train to run around the Christmas tree. But after two years of looking at it for two weeks and then boxing it up, we decided we wanted to see it year round," said Heiman. "We found a person to fabricate overhead tracks...Read more
A fond farewell: Rural Chippewa County couple bids reluctant goodbye to ...Eau Claire Country Today, April 20th
Their collection began with toy trains, mostly G scale. A sprawling train layout, complete with buildings hand-crafted by Al, encompass almost a whole room. “I always liked trains. I never had a train layout before,” he said. “One thing led to another...Read more
Train fans make tracks to KirrieKirriemuir Herald, April 10th
Jim will also have a static display of garden railways G-scale items. Sticking with the 'big boys', Alan Furneaux and Henry Johnstone combine live steam and electric railways in entertaining style. Graeme Pascall, from the Glasgow area, specialises in...Read more
Model trains a fun hobbyThe Garden City Telegram, March 22nd
Brad Nading/TelegramDetails in the displays are important for many model train enthusiasts, such as this one Saturday at the Garden City Train Show, which features working crossing arms and flashing lights at a “street intersection” on a “G”-scale display...Read more
Backyard transformed into railroad villagePilot Tribune, July 18th
Officially the G in g-scale stands for the German word for big which is Gross, but due to their durability and the use of the train models the G has been interpreted to stand for garden scale train. For Peterson's railroad, the name garden scale...Read more
All aboard: G-scale train, memory garden featured on annual historical society ...Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, July 7th
Rolling stock on the G-scale tracks includes a locomotive with a battery-pack, a coal car and an orange rail car. Tracks are laid through the garden, passing alongside rocks and plants and over trussed bridges. “This train is intended for outdoor use...Read more
Proctor's president collects G-scale model trains, on display through the holidaysPeoria Journal Star, December 14th
Calling these trains toys may not be quite accurate since Macek started collecting G-scale models 25 years ago. The train cars are larger than your average model trains. These are G-scale replicas that you find in outdoor displays at botanical gardens...Read more
G-scale garden trains chug along for holidaysArizona Republic, November 29th
Arizona Big Train Operators are celebrating the holidays by again opening their homes the first two weekends of December for their annual Christmas Trains in the Garden. G-scale railroad layouts will be running at 13 homes in the East Valley and in...Read more