Heritage Model Trains Article

Imagineering and Model Trains


There are those hobbyists in model trains that bind themselves to historical fact and choose an era in history to model their layout, buildings, and yes, locomotives in their layout. Then again, there are those who find model trains more of a hobby… involved in imagineering in a whole variety of ways as they work their way through the different facets of building.


These easy-going modelers while they may be limited to space or funding are not limited in their imagination. Some important facts are always in consideration because we don’t want a steam locomotive running through a new millennium town now, do we? Even building your railroad in a fictitious location, it should be based on the reality that what you see is not only possible, but probable.


HO Gauge Town Layout


Start by naming your railroad using the same logic that original founders used: Westside Hobby Shop, or Shelter Bay Bus Stop. If your location is near where you live, it will be far easier for you to use common names of businesses you see, and duplicate them in your layout. Could your railroad station be named Charleston Terminal? Or Savanna Rail Transit? Sure it could.


You can’t spend too much time in the planning phase or stretch your imagination too far. Consider the natural environment your trains will go over and under and through. Name these places just like real places… Foote’s Pond or Larry’s Bar & Grill.


We use family names just for the fun of it, and have Bishop’s Restaurant, and Rankin Park. Many railroads had logos, and this is fun to name. We have freight trains and rolling stock cars with colorful names. You can make your own decals or dry transfer them: Michael’s Corn and Grain, or Kelly’s Raw Timber.


The subject of imagineering as it applies to model railroading seems a bottomless well. When you pass on your trains to your children or grand children, they will learn to do a model train village using your freedom of imagination too.


They may not settle in the same town where they were born, but they will use Imagineering of their own no matter where they put down roots. One fellow we know has moved three times and has rebuilt from scratch his new model train layout. Once a modeler, always a modeler I guess.


But his new train layout is more urban now with this move, and we see giant fields of baled hay, cattle, horses and farming equipment. His barns are a thing of beauty. There is a neighborhood pond nearby with little kids enjoying the water. A bait-shack is located at the outskirts of town near the river’s edge. There are boats for rent and a fisherman or two have their lines in the water; a train passes overhead creeping along an ancient trestle bridge.


Was all of this designed from a dream he had?


All Aboard…..



Esther Smith, author

Heritage Model Trains