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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Klamath County Museum to host model train showHerald and News, December 18th
A variety of model railroad layouts will be operating at the Klamath County Museum during a train show open through Saturday, according to a news release. The fee to enter the show presented by the Klamath Rails Model Railroad Club is included with ...Read more
Gardenland Express at botanical gardenMyguidon, December 17th
Visitors can watch as eight G-scale model trains as they roll through a floral wonderland of more than 500 colorful poinsettias and other traditional plants. This year's theme, “Celebrate Our Passion for Plants” recognizes the 250th anniversary of St...Read more
Annual Kenosha train display moves to BurlingtonKenosha News, December 17th
BURLINGTON — Bill Zimmer's holiday train display, which drew thousands of people to his front yard on 69th Street in Kenosha each winter for more than a decade, has found a new location. The G-scale display, referred to as “Grandpa's Trains” by those ...Read more
Christmas on the Coast Dec. 17Destin Log, December 16th
The 19th Annual Niceville Christmas Display “Animation in Motion” features more than 600 animated dolls and is the largest Christmas Village in town with more than 1,000 pieces, and N-scale, H.O.-scale, O-scale and G-scale model trains. View the...Read more
Old train stations on display during show in TorringtonTorrington Register Citizen, December 14th
The 14th annual train show was presented by local model train club Torrington Area Model Railroaders, who exhibited two modular layouts – one in HO-scale (which measures a railroad set engine at 1.97 inches), the other in G-scale, which is the largest ...Read more
Christmas tradition to come alive at Center Bethel Church of GodTribune-Review, December 10th
The display will feature “G” scale train sets on loan from Brian Corcoran of Vintage Costumes. “We're going to have the train set up in the center of the room so people can walk around it and see it from all angles,” Kline said, adding the display will...Read more
Model train show set for this weekend at Torrington ArmoryTorrington Register Citizen, December 10th
The Torrington Area Model Railroaders, based on Lewis Street, will present two layouts – one in HO scale and one in G scale. Valley N-Trak, a group whose members come throughout the region, will have its N scale layout on display, organizers said in a ...Read more
All aboard! 'Polar Express' model train to ride rails soonOrlando Sentinel, December 3rd
Highlights include an overhead dual tracks of Lionel trains, background panels featuring the four seasons painted by resident artist Dan Cruise, modular N-scale layout, three-eighths-inch-high Z-scale to 8-inch-high G-scale trains and more. All of the...Read more