Modeling Prototype Railroads

If you’ve chosen model railroading as a hobby you share some common issues with all of those people who represent your peer group. The obvious of which is your interest in trains in general. Your initial influence to choose this pastime may be somewhat different than others who enjoy this rewarding hobby, but trains on the whole are the primary reason for making this selection.

One other thing you have in common with your peer group when you make the decision to build a model railroad is that we all start with a blank slate. The question which you may wrestle with for awhile, is whether you want to create a model train railroad which is completely based on whatever your imagination conjures up, or if you want to model your railroad, as closely as you can, based on the prototype.

Your modeling project may be limited to the trains which ran during a specific time period, or it may involve the exact trains and a railroad that you admire. If the latter is the case, you will then concentrate your efforts in also modeling the location or locations where the railroad actually ran.

So, let’s back up for a moment and take a look at where you should start if modeling a prototype railroad is your final choice. In reality, it goes without saying, that just as is the case with all aspects of model railroading, you’ll discover that a great deal of research will be required to model a prototype railroad as well.

Additionally, the more photographs you manage to acquire of that railroad and the area or areas it ran in will be of great value to you as you work through your project.

With that said, a word about the construction of a model railroad is in order: certainly you can develop a timetable for the construction, but it may be more realistic to think of building a model railroad in terms of a life-long project. Also, there really isn’t any reason to be concerned about this type of approach, because this is where the real fun and joy is in building a layout.

Now, in doing your research about the prototype you’ve selected the following information will point you in the right direction, as there are a variety of helpful resources which are right at your fingertips and easily accessible if you know where to look:

1. In the past, almost every home had an encyclopedia set. Today, these are most likely placed in the category of collectibles, and maybe not very high on the list of valuable collectibles at that.

Once again, the internet is the solution and one website in particular. That site, is of course The benefit of search at this website for information is that it offers a variety of categories which are about prototype railroading, as well as information about model railroading.

2. Another great resource which can and does provide a wealth of information about prototype railroading and its history is the National Railway Historical Society. When you visit this website you’ll find that everything is well presented and self explanatory.

3. At some point in time just about everyone has participated in a game of Monopoly, but did you know that three of the four railroads which are represented in the game are real? They are and were the Pennsylvania, Reading, and B & O Railroads. Simply using the name of the railroad as your online search term will provide a considerable amount of information about each of these railroads.

4. The following is a list of search terms which can be used to gather information about real life trains and their history:

a. Historical and excursion railroads
b. Railroad and railway museums
c. Intermodal-trains-and-operations
d. Locomotive prototypes
e. Railfan sites
f. Freight cars