Your Favorite Riding Scale
Visiting riding scale railroaders enjoying the
Bitter Creek & Western Railroad.
Photo by Jim O'Connor
Written by Rick Henderson
many, a significant part of this hobby is visiting other railroads in their
area and even across the country and operating their trains on other tracks.
They recognize a big part of the learning about the riding scale railroad hobby
is in the visiting of other railroads, especially if you are building your own.
The leading exchange of ideas comes from seeing, not just reading, how others
have done things. You often learn what works, what did not work, and what would
work best at your location. As no two railroads are alike, there is something
to learn from all that you can visit.
In the recent survey conducted on
DLS asking about railroads hobbyists have visited, several comments stand out
as observations on what makes a railroad appealing. You do not necessarily need
to be "The Biggest and Best Railroad" in the country to be considered a favored
Based on survey respondents, the
median number of railroads visited by people in the hobby is 10. The responses
for the number of railroads people visited ran from two to 30 with one lucky
individual claiming to have visited 100 different railroads over the years. The
fact that 49% of the respondents preferred the variety of the railroads they
visited over their own home railroad is not a surprise as people enjoy
There were a few key comments on
what made the railroads attractive on which to operate. The comment used to
describe 45% of the railroads was "Friendly" because they felt truly welcome.
People felt that their hosts were exceptional in making them feel very welcome
and, with some respondents, as if they had been a long time member of the
Scenery was also often mentioned as
an attractive point. When you ride around and see more than just other nearby
tracks, it is very appealing to people. Along with the natural scenic views,
scale structures were also very appealing to visitors.
Size did matter to some degree, but
it was not a high concern. The most often comment that went along with size was
the appeal of the variety of route options one could travel rather than just a
People just seem to love railroad
trestles & bridges, as they were a high point to many visitors. Also rated as
great features are tunnels, signals and bi-directional running, all of which
drew remarks as some of the most attractive points about operating on
railroads. Single direction running or always just following the caboose in
front of you was not an attractive point.
If you were to describe an ideal
riding scale railroad from these results, it would have friendly hosts, scenic
views likely in woods and/or with some hills, have trestles and signals for
bi-directional operations, with perhaps a tunnel and scale structures such as
town or industries scattered out over multiple routes to explore.
A few, less attractive, issues or
drawbacks for some railroaders are the local amenities, especially if the
railroad is remote, having to ride the public, an issue many clubs have to
comply with just to exist, and not being larger enough to allow for more
visitors. These are not any fault of the railroads; they are just a factor
visitors consider when making plans to visit.
Overall, the railroads listed as the
most favored for visiting were, in alphabetical order,
Bitter Creek & Western Railroad,
Eagle Point Railroad,
Maricopa Live Steamers,
Michigan Central Railroad, Train
Mountain Museum, White Creek
Railroad and Willow Creek Railroad.
Most railroad owners derive a great
deal of satisfaction from having visitors go away with a positive experience
from their visit. When you visit a railroad, let your host(s) know how much you
appreciated their efforts in building, maintaining and opening the railroad to
guests. If you see something you like about a railroad and may want to
duplicate it, asking how they did something so you may try it at your home
railroad is really a large compliment. Most people are more than happy to share
With close to 400 riding scale
railroads listed on the Discover Live Steamís Railroad Listings
just in the US, there are bound to be some in your region or along your future
travel route that you could arrange to visit. If you plan ahead you will find
most railroads are very accommodating to others in the hobby and will try to
work with your schedule.
Written by Rick
Be sure to visit Rick Henderson's web site PC Rails