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Family Garden Trains.  Railroad by Dan and Katy Hill, about 2005 Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running wellGarden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to runBest Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order FormSturdy buildings for your garden railroad.
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

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Garden Trains are big, weather-resistant model trains that you can run outside. Once you install the track, you leave it out all year 'round, (though most people bring the trains in overnight). You can surround your railroad with real ponds and plants that not only make your trains look "at home," but beautify your yard all year long as well.

Since many new Garden Trains became available in the 1980s, the hobby called Garden Railroading has been attracting both "indoor" model railroaders and families that never owned an "indoor train." All have found that a Garden Railroad is a family enterprise, with everyone finding something to enjoy and something to contribute. That's why, when we started "Family Garden Trains"TM in 1996, we put the word "Family" into the title and kept it there.

We at Family Garden TrainsTM are Garden Railroaders who want to help our hobby grow, and we think that the best way to do that is to give anyone interested the information that they need the most to get started. That is why we publish that information on our web site in the form of free, original articles. Each article is written or edited by a professional writer with the beginning garden railroader in mind. To help you as much as possible:

  • We provide clear explanations, step-by-step instructions, and lists of resources you can consult when you need more detail about a particular subject than we can provide.
  • We keep our content "fresh" by adding new content and updating older articles as new products or techniques become available.
  • We encourage two-way communication, through a Contact Page for your questions, a Newsletter signup, a Discussion Forum Page, and a Facebook Page. Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to visit the Family Garden Trains discussion forum. Click to see the Family Garden Trains page on Facebook.

    Also, if you poke around a little, you'll also see that we have incorporated reader feedback directly into dozens of our articles, and we'll be glad to include your suggestions, additions, and corrections as well.

Raised Platform Railroad Articles, Redux

Longtime readers know that after some sixteen years of trying to keep a traditionally-installed retaining-wall-and-dirt railroad in running condition, we moved and decided that the railroad at the new house had to be as low-maintenance as possible.

The story of our new railroad, starts with many plans, false starts, and new plans, but by the time we had the first "proof of concept" installed, we felt we were definitely on the right track. It is told in our our New Boston and Donnels Creek blog starting with our article "Planning the New New Boston and Donnels Creek Railway, Part 1."

Just yesterday, we had links to all of those articles on this page. And you can still see them if you follow the links above. But now we've put together a short, easy-to-follow article that describes the basic precepts we used in building our new railroad.

"Click to see our article on Building a Raised Platform Railroad.Building a Raised Platform Railroad" is our new "flagship" article, based on 40 years' experience and observation in the hobby. It describes an approach to building an outdoor railroad that will require almost no maintenance and last without major refurbishment for as long as you plan to live in your home - New February, 2020

If you want to see how the simple principles in that article have been applied to our new railroad, you can download our four-page PDF "Building the NEW NEw Boston and Donnels Creek."

If you ever built a back deck, you used materials and methods selected to keep the structure solid as long as you live in your house (hopefully longer). To me the infrastructure for a garden railroad should be the same.

Personally, I believe that low-maintenance raised railroads are the future of the hobby, because they allow garden railroaders to run trains more often and for years longer without major repairs than most traditional approaches.

NGRC Nashville - If you would like to hear more of our ideas and conclusions regarding low-maintenance, reliable, cost-effective garden railroads, be sure and stop by our clinics at the 2020 National Garden Railway Convention in Nashville.

Information about Garden Railroading

Click to jump to our list of articles for beginning and intermediate garden railroaders.Free: Garden Railroading Primer Articles - Everything you need to know to get started, including many planning and construction articles to give you more ideas for getting a railroad in your back yard this year. The following list shows the general breakdown of our articles, as well as a few recent or especially helpful articles. Clicking on the list will either take you that portion of our Primer page or to a table of contents for that topic particular (if available).

Other Resources
  • Letters to the Editor Section - Answers to questions about garden trains.
  • Garden Railroad Photo Gallery - beginning to sort out some of the better photos we've featured on this site in the past.
  • My garden railroad, the New Boston and Donnels Creek - with many photos and links. including:
    • New Boston Marketplace - We're not exactly "downsizing," but we are selling off some stuff we bought for one project or another and never used. New, January, 2013
    • Christmas Train Day Report: Our Fifth Christmas-Themed Open Railroad - On November 10, 2012, our garden railroad, the New Boston and Donnels Creek was open to the public, in conjunction with the NMRA show in Dayton a week earlier. We had several trains running, including three trains the kids could run, lots of Christmas lights, Christmas music, outdoor movies, popcorn-machine popcorn and other treats, and lots and lots of helpers visitors. A good time was had by all.
  • Special Features
    • Trees and Trains - The Holden Express - a Photo-Journal from Family Garden Trains(tm) A detailed record of our visit to a unique professional garden railroad in Kirtland, Ohio (near Cleveland) in mid-July, 2007. Lots and lots of photos you can click on for a bigger view. This railroad closed September 23, but the photos are still online, because they are seriously inspiring.
    • Into the Woods: A Garden Railroad in a Public Forest Jim and Evelyn Metcalf built a garden railroad that anybody can access. It's also on the GeoCache list, and works just great with an inexpensive train and plastic track.

  • Blog-Like Articles - An attempt to keep in touch with timely, informal remarks, including:

      What's in a Name - Again.  Click for bigger photo.What's In a Name - Again - Domain name squatters, content pirates, and other obstacles that we hit head-on years ago, but resulted in issues we're still sorting out today. Hopefully our warnings can help you avoid similar problems when when you name a business or start a web pages. Includes real-world examples from the history of Family Garden Trains and affiliated sites.New July, 2013

      It Makes a City - Another Great Buy from Colorado Model Structures! - CMS has always featured garden buildings that offered great value. This spring, they have issued enough new kits to give you an entire city's worth of buildings for the cost of a single building from many other companies. If that sounds hard to believe, please check out Colorado Model Structure's new lines, some of which are being displayed for the first time at the Cincinnati convention in June. New May, 2013:

      Preparing for a Once-In-A-Decade Open Railroad - Check out an early "sneak peak" at some of the many things we are doing to get ready for the June, 2013 convention-related open railroads. New April, 2013: The "sequel" to this article is now located here.

    • Economics of Garden Railroad Buildings - A recent experience selling some used buildings and building kits reminded me that most "name brand" large scale building kits cost too much. Way too much. I'm reminded of why I spend so much time trying to keep the hobby affordable for folks with average incomes. New January, 2013:

    • How do I Sell My Train Collection? - I often get contacted by people who've found, inherited, or grown tired of a train "collection" and need help figuring out what to do with it. Click here for the best advice I've heard (and some I've given) on the subject. New September, 2012

    • Put the Garden in 'Garden Railroading' - Nancy Norris' 'Miniature Garden Guidebook' - GR plant specialist Nancy Norris has released the only complete book dedicated to the garden part of "garden railroading" ever published. Click here to see an original review. New August, 2012

    • Building Buildings - Jack Verducci's Building Structures for Your Garden Railway - Kalmbach has published another collection of Jack Verducci's most popular articles, this time focusing on Jacks tips for building, installing, and maintaining garden railroad structures. Though it's not a step-by-step "how-to" instruction manual, it's guaranteed to give you some great ideas. New July, 2012

  • Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics for use on your own railroads. Includes brick paper and other texture sheets, business signs, pre-scaled, printable building fronts, and curtains and shades for dressing up your buildings.

  • Finding a Garden Railroad Club Information to help you find likeminded folks in your area.

  • How (and Why) to Write "How To" Hobby Articles - Our "business site," Breakthrough CommunicationsTM, has posted a series of articles to help you give back to your favorite hobbies by sharing what you've learned.

Garden Train Buyer's Guides - Descriptions of the products you will find most useful when you are starting out, with links to multiple suppliers when available.
  • Garden Train Store: A buyer's guide to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingGarden Train Store - An extensive buyer's guide that provides pictures and descriptions of the products you are mostly likely to find useful when you are beginning and expanding your railroad. Links to multiple suppliers are included when available.
  • Best Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting outBest Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders - A one-page buyer's guide designed to save you time and money by helping you locate the most useful (and generally the most affordable) products for when you're first starting out.
  • Sturdy, Large Scale Trains for kids and garden railroads Garden Trains for Kids - What do you buy someone who's not ready for big expensive models but wants something of his or her own to run? Several solid, weather-resistant trains with superior play value are suggested. New, August, 2013
  • Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to runStarter Set Buyer's Guide - A description and catalog of several quality train sets that you can use to start your Garden Railroad.
  • Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themesBig Christmas TrainsTM - Free projects, ideas, and buyers' guides for Christmas trains, towns, and other displays.
  • On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads Big Trains StoreTM - On30 is a fast-growing hobby that can use resources from O gauge railroads, collectible villages, and even from Large Scale - In fact many Garden Railroaders have On30 trains they run inside during cold weather. The Big Trains StoreTM buyers' guide describes On30 and O gauge model trains for building indoor railroads.
  • Train Songs Classic Train Songs - An index to a small but growing library of popular songs about trains. New format and features, 2010!
  • Train Movies and Railroad Videos Train Movies and Railroad Videos - Several of our readers have been shopping for movies about trains, feature movies that feature trains, and so on. This page is new, but growing. April, 2010

Other Resources - The following club links will help you learn what other people in southwest Ohio are doing with trains outside.

What Members of the Large Scale Community are saying about Family Garden Trains

To read more, or to look at recommended products, you may click on the index pages below.

Click to see big Christmas trains and accessories. Visit our BIG Train Store<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Buyer's Guide Pages Visit our Garden Train Store<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Buyer's Guide Pages Click to see Halloween Trains and Towns for your seasonal displays.

Home Pages
Reading Index Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads

Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, Big Indoor TrainsTM, Big Train StoreTM and Trains-N-TownsTM are trademarks of Breakthrough CommunicationsTM ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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