Model Railroad Layout Theme


When you have a model railroad layout theme, you tie together the buildings, trains, and other parts of your display to tell a story. You could have a winter holiday theme for example, or maybe something historical, it’s up to you.

The type of model railroad layout theme that you pick is really up to your own preferences and what you would like to elaborate on, as well as how much money you have to spend on your theme.

Before you construct the display you want to establish your theme. The accessories and trains you buy will depend upon this. You want a theme that will interest you as you’ll have fun doing research and building the display.

Think of time period, location, season, and the purpose of the model railroad layout theme, before you begin.

Model Railroad Layout Theme Purpose

The purpose can be anything that you want such as moving passengers around, carrying livestock or just showcasing trains in a number of different environments such as going through a mountain pass.

The purpose is what you want to convey with your model train display so think of this before you build.

Model Railroad Layout Theme

The Location

A railroad theme needs a good location. This could be a snowy mountain, the Old West, the North Pole, a jungle, or just about anything that you want. Make sure the location is something that will interest you as you work on building the display.

The Season

The season or time of year can be important. For example, if you have a Christmas theme, naturally you’ll want a lot of snow around the display. You could have frozen ponds or a lot of trees with Christmas decorations, for good scenery.

If it’s in the summer you may have a beach, sidewalks full of flower pots, and maybe people on a picnic. Make sure the display matches the season that you’re going for.

The Time Period    

Your model railroad layout theme may take place in the present or the past. Maybe you have a futuristic theme in mind. There are no real rules that come into play, it’s entirely your choice.

The time period will determine the type of model train layout plans you will have, as you’ll want your trains to reflect that time period so it’s authentic.

A modern theme may have an Amtrak train for example, would have a lot of people and busy shops or neighborhoods around the theme.

A train display from the 1800s would have a steam engine and maybe a smaller town.

Theme Examples:

1950s West Virginia in autumn
New York, modern day at Christmas
Modern day in Tokyo
Summer late 18oos in the Midwest

The model railroad layout theme you pick is up to you, so have fun building your model train display.   For some great ideas for your theme,  click here.

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