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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Downwind: Symphony opener is a triumph in West Chestersouthern chester county weeklies, September 22nd
The G-scale model train display that is always such a hit at Longwood Gardens is up and running and will be on view through Jan. 11. If you have never experienced this brilliant moving display of five locomotives and more than 45 different engine...Read more
Decatur Train Fair draws 800 to Civic CenterHerald & Review, September 22nd
But the good news is that reality is not all that there is, and the Decatur Train Fair at the Civic Center was full of alternate worlds where everything was possible. The show, now in its 23rd year, is hosted by the Decatur Mount Zion and Southern...Read more
Train museum members ride to Dothan for showSanta Rosa Press Gazette, September 18th
Ed Dice with the WFRM and ECGRC said, “We have being participating with the train show for several years. This time we have nine ECGRC members setting up and staffing the run. We will set up a large scale train exhibit (G scale) like the garden trains...Read more
Trainfest 2014 to be largest everhngnews.com, September 17th
The annual two-day public event attracts train hobbyists and families who come to see and learn more about the hobby of model railroading. Visitors experience nearly 70 remarkable operating railroads from Z to G scale, over 100 manufacturers and hobby ...Read more
Longwood Gardens Presents Autumn's ColorsDaily Local News, September 12th
The Garden Railway opens September 6 and features an enchanting display of G-scale model trains. This custom model train traverses bridges, tunnels, and water features. This is the 14th year the Railway has delighted guests and is now in a new location...Read more
Restored Union Station Just One of Many Railroad Attractions in The Mile High ...PR Newswire (press release), September 9th
There are more than 50 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, cars and other rolling stock, as well as one of Colorado's largest indoor HO model railroads, and largest G-scale outdoor garden railroads. The museum has the definitive Railroad Book Store ...Read more
Sanford Founders Day this weekendMidland Daily News, September 4th
New this year is an elevated G Scale train in the Depot, complete with a newly painted background scene of downtown Sanford. Guests are invited to step back into the past with live demonstrations of woodcarving, spinning, corn milling, vintage tractors...Read more
Train club holds open house in WarrenWYTV, 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