top of page


Looking backward...Moving forward

History of Model Railroading


Model railroading (MRRing) has been around since the beginning of the 20th century when Lionel came out with the first train set. It is a multi-faceted hobby; comprised of a wide variety of disciplines, knowledge-bases, and subject matter. Here's a list of some, but by all means not limited to:


  • Art

  • Architecture

  • Automotive

  • Business/Economics

  • Carpentry

  • Civil engineering

  • Construction

  • Detailing

  • Design

  • Electrical/electricity/wiring

  • Environment

  • Farming/Horticulture

  • Geography

  • Geology

  • History

  • Humanities

  • Industry

  • Landscaping

  • Lighting

  • Materials

  • Modeling

  • Painting

  • Sculpting

  • Signaling

  • Woodworking

My Background - Growing Up

I grew up with American Flyer (or S-scale) trains as a kid.  When I was 2 - much to my brother's chagrin - I used to climb up on the train table and push the cars around the layout. Needless to say, I didn't get inoculated soon enough and caught the dreaded "train bug" early on.


When I was about 7 years old, my folks bought me my own American Flyer train set for Christmas: A Chicago & Northwestern (C&NW) switcher, gondola, reefer, and caboose.  Unfortunately, the gears stripped out of it after a short while.  Then, sadly, American Flyer went out of business not too soon after that.


For the next ten or so years, every once in a while I would peel the plastic covering off the layout, break out the sand paper, sand off the rust from the steel track, fire up the old cast iron American Flyer steamers and watch them "do the circuit".  (Once you've been diagnosed with "MRR disorder", there is no cure.)

Getting Started

Between the time I left home in the late 70's till 2001, I "dabbled" a couple of times in MRRing: Once in N-scale in the mid-80s; later on in HO-scale in 1990 with a cheapo Bachmann set that I picked up at a local grocery store.  Nothing really got off the ground so the locomotive, cars, track, and power pack ended up in a box.


Just before Christmas of 2001, I had some gift money "burning a hole in my pocket" and decided that this would be the year that I'd purchase a quality locomotive.  I located a local hobby store (LHS) in my area and drove a half hour to see what I could find.  I ended up picking out an HO-scale Rivarossi Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) 0-8-0 yard goat, brought it home, and set it up around our Christmas tree.  After a couple of days, the switcher stopped working and I returned it to the LHS to exchange it for another locomotive.  In the case, they had an Athearn NYC 2-8-2 "Light" Mikado on sale that was in my price range.  It was because of that purchase that I got into modeling the New York Central.


For the next 2-1/2 years, I played around with and learned about layout design, as well as benchwork construction.  It wasn't until May 2004 when I had some free time that I actually started constructing my first layout: A 4 x 8' open frame with extrude foam insulation as the base.  Since then I've purchased a few more locomotives:



*Along with the New York Central, I've developed an affinity for Erie and Norfolk Southern, too. At the beginning of 2005, I transitioned from DC to DCC with the inexpensive Bachmann E-Z Command DCC system. Now I've come down with "DCC syndrome", too. In February 2006, I purchased the new NCE Power Cab.

At present

Currently, I'm using and view my present layout as a "learning" layout, with the idea that I will incorporate the things that I've learned along the way into my next creation.  (I'd eventually like to build an around-the-wall layout.)  In these recent days and weeks, I started learning and wiring my layout for lighting.  (Wow! Does that add a whole new dimension to things!)


As I mentioned on my home page, my design and desire is that this site would be both enjoyable, as well as informative - as I would like to share the techniques and tricks that I have learned myself and from others.


Tom Stage

bottom of page