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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Clubs & Associations
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Recent News: G Scale Trains
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Crosslake model train museum displays new exhibits and layoutsNorthland Press, May 25th
The Northern Minnesota Railroad Heritage Museum (NMRHA) in Crosslake is now displaying Rail Art on loan from rail art collector John Hotvet of Minneapolis. The paintings/ reproductions depict the Soo Line, Hiawatha, Burlington, Great Northern, Rock ...Read more
Carlisle Garden Club's May Garden of the MonthThe Sentinel, May 24th
A low spot near the deck was developed into a water garden oasis. Water lilies, Iris', Bog Plants, Forget Me Nots and water grasses provide shelter for fish, tadpoles and ducks. Ken also incorporated his love for trains into the garden to form a garden...Read more
REC: Marveling at model trainsSierra Vista Herald, May 23rd
There is an N-scale layout under construction, and in front of the club is a radio operated G-scale layout measuring 25 feet by 85 feet. The group meets every Tuesday of the month, except the second Tuesday, when they have their business meeting...Read more
Events In Queens For May 21-27Queens Tribune, May 21st
Created by the Long Island Garden Railway Society, the World's Fair Train Show will feature fully working “G” scale model trains, which will be traveling on their tracks through the garden and around a scaled-down Unisphere and several other iconic...Read more
Albany marks Amtrak Train DaysAlbany Democrat Herald, May 10th
the 4-year-old Salem girl chanted as the G-scale model rounded each corner. "Choo-choo!" Her mother, Jyll Smith, said she brought Shanta to Albany specifically to be a part of the Amtrak station's first observation of Amtrak Train Days. "Every time she...Read more
Train celebrations roll into AlbanyAlbany Democrat Herald, May 6th
Exhibits will include a G-scale model train, information on Albany's rail history and ideas for travel in Albany and around Oregon. Real-life trains will be on their usual schedules picking up and dropping off passengers, with the Coast Starlight...Read more
A "Rail" big day coming to the NC Transportation MuseumWBTV, May 6th
Those who love trains on a smaller scale will not be disappointed. Model train layouts will be hosted by several different modeling groups, including the Atlantic Coast S-Gaugers, Beaver Creek Railroad G-Scale Modelers, the Winston-Salem Rail Buddies...Read more
Model train show rides into Augusta ExpoStaunton News Leader, May 3rd
Seeing them smile ... it makes me happy." There are four different scales for model trains — G scale, which is a 1:22 proportion/scale; O scale, which is 1:48; HO scale, which is half of the O scale at 1:87; and N scale, the smallest size at 1:160...Read more