Model Trains and Railroads: Resources and References

Lots of Books and Magazines about Model RailroadingThere is definitely no lack of interesting books and magazines to read about model railroading.

There are lots of resources available relating to model trains and railroads, many of which are credible, interesting, educational and fun to review. I have named a few of these within the pages of this website. However, I thought it might be a good service to provide one whole page dedicated to my favorite research and reference material that may be helpful as you are planning and building your train layout or diorama…

Books and DVDs - Lots of books and videos about model railroading are available and new ones are coming out all the time. I learned a great deal from these books and DVDs, and also from magazines...

Model Railroad Magazines

One of my favorite magazines is Model Railroader by Kalmbach Publishing. I usually read this one cover to cover. Much of what I know about the hobby came from this one source and its sister publications, like Model Railroad Planning and Great Model Railroads. If you’re even remotely interested in model railroading, whether or not you have a layout or are planning one, I would highly recommend this publication.

NMRA Magazine, formerly Scale Rails, is another very informative magazine put out by the National Model Railroad Association. The content has improved considerably in recent years and this is another one that I read cover to cover. 

Model Railroad News — The News Monthly for Model Railroaders. Try 3 issues free! The most up-to-date and colorful coverage of the model railroad hobby available anywhere... • new product announcements • in-depth reviews • industry news • club news • columns • lots and lots of photos • railroad events and activities • national hobby show coverage • classified ads, • DC/DCC how-tos, and more... Get all your model railroad news from this very affordable, informative and friendly magazine.

Model Railroad News link

N-Scale Magazine - For those of you who like N-scale, this is the journal for you. It always has great, informative articles, many of which are useful for all scales. The only bad thing is that it only comes out every other month.

Trains is a very interesting magazine about prototype trains and railroading, which is helpful for learning how railroads work in real life – necessary for accurate model railroading, even if your layout is freelanced. It’s a great resource for rail fanning as well.

Classic Toy Trains is the one to read if you like Lionel, American Flyer and the classic so-called “toy trains”.

Classic Trains is a separate publication about the Classic trains of the 1920's to the 1970's.

Garden Railways is the bible publication for those who have or are planning a garden layout, which I would like to do myself one day.

Railroad Model Craftsman - another fine magazine chock-full of interesting articles about modeling trains and railroads.

Trackside Model Railroading - Offers a monthly magazine, You-Tube videos and lots of DVDs featuring state-of-the-art model railroad layouts. Fun to watch and educational as well.

Train Songs

Have you ever noticed how many train songs there are out there? There must be hundreds, if not thousands, in all genres of music. It just goes to show you how much trains and railroads have been part of our lives. Airplanes and ships aren't referred to in songs nearly as much as trains. There is something nostalgic and romantic about trains, sad and happy at the same time - taking lovers away and bringing them home. A great website All About Vinyl Records written by a friend of mine, Danny Sandrik, includes a section about train songs. What a great walk down memory lane it is to hear great musicians play these not-so-old train songs! 

Model Railroad Websites

Spruce Crafts ( is a great beginning resource on the web about model trains and model railroading. This site contains lots of informative articles. is another excellent model train information resource affiliated with Kalmbach Publishing through which you can purchase many of the premier model railroad magazines and how-to books which have been very helpful to me over the years. - a great place to find materials for scratch-building structures

Ipswich Hobbies - Model Railroad Craftsman Kit Structures - Ipswich Hobbies is a small company that focuses on delivering laser cut craftsman building kits that are based upon prototype structures. Kits are also available pre-built.

Railroad Backdrops - Wonderful photographed layout backgrounds for anysize layout in any scale, in any season, at reasonable prices. Buy them as they are or customize by blending scenes together. Rated #1 by Model Railroader Magazine.

Railroad Historical Societies can provide a huge amount of information about specific prototype railroads that you may wish to model. Check the National Railway Historical Society website for links to the specific local railroad museum or historical society that you’re looking for.

National Model Railroad Association (NMRA)- This is also a wealth of information about the hobby including the recognized standards required for universal measurements and operation of equipment. The NMRA Library is an extensive resource of information and photos about the history of railroading. The NMRA also sponsors awards for achievement that many model railroad craftsmen strive for – primarily the Master Model Railroader award.

A Closer Look at the History of Diesel Locomotives - a wonderful resource presenting an excellent overview of the development of diesel locomotives. The article also contains many links to other great historical railroad information. (This resource was discovered and graciously submitted as an addition to this website by Camp Nazareth in Minnesota.)

Subways are trains, too!- A brief history of the New York subway system. - where scale modelers 
and craftsmen learn from each other over and over again.

Trains O Scale - A very informative site all about O Scale trains and how to build an O Scale layout.

Central Operating Lines Model Railroad Club - A club in New York with mostly O Gauge operators. This is also an authorized and registered MTH repair service center.

Understanding Model Train Maintenance -An excellent article about how to clean and maintain model locomotives. Lots of related references are listed here as well. (Resource submitted by Olivia Pierce).

3D Printing - All about designing and creating your own unique 3D model railroad structures, boxcars, locomotives and other applications.

Model Railroad Forums are a great way to learn about various aspects of model trains and railroads in a fun, friendly environment of other model railroaders who always go out of their way to be helpful. These are some of my favorites…

Railroad Line Forums Forums

Model Railroad Forums

Basic Model Railroad Photography - Great tips on how to photograph your railroad.

Steel Wheels Train Photos - A large photographic collection of locomotives and rail cars, many Canadian and US mid-western lines that would be very helpful as reference photos for model railroaders.

Global 3-D Arts - Global 3D Arts has been working in this way with architects and developers for over 20 years. Our artists have over a decade of experience working with architects and developers in architectural animation, rendering, and in building scale models.

Dioramas - Great information about dioramas of all kinds can be found here, including tutorials on how to make trees and rocks, how to paint miniatures and how to build complete dioramas from start to finish.

Homeschool Activities - A great website that will help you introduce your young children to dioramas, crafts and model building.

Circuitron - Their downloadable PDF catalog is an excellent resource to learn about different types of electronic circuit boards and what they can do for your layout.

Iowa Scaled Engineering - Electronics for Model Railroads - Fast clocks, circuit boards for automation, etc.

Webville and Hypertext Railroad Company - A huge database of model railroading information and links. -

HO Railroading - A site where HO model railroaders can share information and photographs, discuss new products, present clinics and get help from discussion boards.

Model Train Supplies

It’s always good to support your local hobby shop; otherwise, they wouldn’t be there, and then, where else would you go or take the kids on a Saturday afternoon? If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the local hobby store, or on the Supplies page on this site, then here are some favorite places of mine to shop…

Dale's Train Station - My favorite local train shop carrying supplies for all the most popular scales. What he doesn't have he can order for you.

Walthers Catalog and website are my premier references for model railroad supplies. It’s often fun and interesting to just sit down and browse the catalog to get ideas for your own layout. They always have excellent model train photos in their “Magic” section also.

Tony’s Train Exchange is a great hobby shop, with which I have personal experience. I have purchased locomotives and DCC equipment from them and can testify to the excellent service they provided. They will install decoders for you as well.

Woodland Scenics - This is one of my favorite resources for scenery materials and information about how to apply them. They also supplied the modular benchwork that I used to build my current layout.

Scenic Express - Well-known for their realistic trees and ground covers, this site also offers ready made rock formations, bridge trestle bents, foam cutters, scenic backdrops, figures, billboards and even neon signs.

Atlas has been my primary supplier of all my HO and N scale track, turnouts and wiring components, not to mention a good portion of my locomotive power through four separate layouts for many years. Need I say more?

Bachmann Trains, another icon of the industry, and supplier of many of the products that I have used, has been a leader in the production of high quality locomotives and other great model railroad equipment, and also in the creation of digital command control that is affordable and easy to use.

Scale Model Plans - A website dedicated to creating and selling plans for scratchbuilding projects. Great for novices as well as seasoned modelers.

Garden Scale Structure Plans - traceable templates and dimensioned plans for 1:24 scale buildings from

Local craft stores like Michael’s can supply a lot of great material you can use to make trees. You can also buy small mirrors to use on your layout, not to mention the large supply of paints, brushes, spray bottles, glue guns, etc., etc.

Micro-Mark Model Trains has a long history of great service to model railroaders supplying a complete range of modeling tools without which we couldn't do what we do.

Backdrop Warehouse – All kinds of custom made backdrops for your layout.

Berkshire Junction - home of EZ line telephone wire and some electronic items like traffic lights, operating crossbucks, etc.

Ipswich HobbiesModel Railroad Themed Craftsman Structure Kits.  Ipswich Hobbies is a small company that focuses on delivering laser cut craftsman building kits that are based upon prototype structures. Kits are also available pre-built.

Great Lakes Engineering - Design your own structures and have the parts made by this laser cutting company.

Prestige Hobbies - Shop online from the largest selection of diecast cars and racing collectibles on the west coast.

Model Railcraft Supply Depot - a newer site reported in some forums to have competitive prices and good service.

Bill & Walt's Hobby Shop carries a large selection of plastic model cars, planes, ships and figures along with the paints, glues & tools needed to complete your project. How to Books on modeling plastic kits, trains & scenery. Also model rockets, educational items and model railroad supplies.

Fast-Tracks - Contains all the tools, templates, jigs and information you need for handlaying your own track.

Mt. Albert Scale Lumber/ Mt. Albert Scale Models - An excellent resource for scale lumber materials and wooden scale models.

Rusty Stumps - All things related to building structures and fences for your layout.

Azatrax - An online resource for train detectors, crossing gate controllers and crossing bell sound effects. This site contains very clear and detailed instructions for proper installation and use of their products.

CTI Electronics - This site is dedicated to model railroad computer control with all the electronics you need to optimize layout control. See the page on this (BYMR) website titled Train Brain for more info.

Richmond Controls - Another great resource with information and supplies related to adding special lighting effects to your locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses - including headlights, ditch lights, FRED's, interior passenger car lighting, etc.

Micro/Mini Layouts - Cramped for space? Go to this site to find out all about how to do very small model railroad layouts.

Micro-cameras - from Model Railroading Video Solutions. Install a WiFi train-cam INSIDE your HO (or larger) scale locomotive! Stream live video or photos from your layout to anywhere in the world!

Choo-Choo Vision - A new mini video camera you can install in your locomotive cab or at trackside. Immerse yourself into your layout. Show your live video from your layout to anywhere in the world. Get the engineer's perspective as you operate your trains around the layout.

Schrader's Railroad Catalog - A multitude of model train and railroad gift items of all kinds for all ages.

The Track Stop! - Railroading gifts, cards, calendars, signs, memorabilia, hats, shirts, mugs, train sounds, model train graphics, software, books, DVD's, and a great selection of train posters. Also includes a large section on photography gear.

Hobby Tools!

- Dremel supplies, cut-off saws for metal, wood and plastic, precision tools, headband magnifiers, etc.

ebay -

World's Greatest Hobby on Tour

Other Excellent Resources:

Model Railroad Data/Links

J.A.Bash & Company - If you have a fairly large amount of money tied up in your model railroad and would like to have it insured, you need to look at this site. The Internet Railroad Directory - Guide to 15,000 rail-related websites including train travel, model railroading, railfan resources, train simulators, and railroad industry sites

Recreation and Hobby Directory - A large directory containing links to model railroading and other hobbies

Our site is proudly listed in the TXT Links Directory.

Links to Other Interesting Sites

Christmas Village Fun Blog - A very interesting blog about miniature villages with Dickens style displays and other village dioramas that would be fun to use in combination with model trains, and not necessarily just for Christmas.

RC Cars Hub - an extensive review of a variety of radio-controlled cars, where to buy, the best prices, etc.

Majolic Ceramics - All about hand-painted ceramic tiles. The beauty and detail of these tiles are amazing. Put your favorite train on tiles!

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