Model railroad logging layouts

Steve’s been in touch with a theme that is popular on the blog: model railroad logging layouts!


First, THANK YOU for all you do to share everyone’s model railroading!!! It’s great to see what people around the globe are doing – using their experiences for learning and education!

Second, it’s hard to believe it’s been over 3 ½ years since I sent my original email regarding the OWLS (Ohio Western & Lima Short line).

I continue to plug away, focusing on the scenery, landscape & buildings. Alas, age has taken it’s toll and the old hands aren’t as steady as they used to be!!

Here are recent photos of the OWLS Short line, mainly the progress I’ve made with the above mentioned areas.

Again, THANK YOU for all you do!

The layout is from about the late 1950 – 1960 time period and centers around a local logging/ lumber industry.

model railroad foam mountains

The sub roadbed made from pink insulation foam.

model railroad logging layouts lumber yard

A a couple of the local industries.

model railroad logging layouts

The center of town on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

model railroad control panel

The switches controlling track power, power to the industry & house LEDs, smoke system for the lumber mill & other buildings as well as sound system. The sound system has one set for daylight (trucks, cars, etc.) and one set for night time (crickets, owls, etc.)

model railroad logging layouts

Where the timber is harvested

model railroad logging layouts lumber yard

Retail outlet for the finished lumber

model railroad logging layouts lumber mill

Where the rough cut trees are converted to lumber

model train lumber shop

Another look at the lumber mill and the shop for the ever ongoing work to repair/ refurbish trains and other manufacturing equipment

A look at some of the house in the little town.


A huge thanks to Steve – I do love an update and it’s a great theme too. It’s no surprise there are so many model railroad logging layouts.

If you’re looking for Steve’s first post, it’s here.

I think Steve’s layout is another fine example of how important picking a theme is for your layout.

Once you have a theme so much falls into place – you have a pretty good idea of what buildings you’ll need, and what they will look like.

You’ll also have an idea of what else you want on the layout with regards to scenery. The chances are if you want a logging layout, you’ll want a forest area on hills, and of course, a lumber mill.

Another good example of this is Al’s HO logging road.

You can see Al’s layout, just like Steve’s, ‘makes sense’. Everything fits in, there’s nothing that looks out of place because it’s all congruent to the railroad logging theme.

And once you know your theme, you can start playing with your track plan.

But it all comes from the theme – I know I say it time and time again, but it ‘s the layouts that have a theme from day one that always look the best, by a country mile.

It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with making things up as you go along, if that’s what you enjoy, then go for it. After all, that’s what this hobby is all about, having fun.

A little thought on a theme though, will go an awful long way to visually glue the whole layout together. You’ve only got to spend 10 minute or so on the blog to see for yourself.

What’s more, a theme lets you create those scenes within a scene to add extra interest to your layout.

Have a look and Steve’s sixth picture and you’ll see what I mean. The workmen on each platform add so much more to the scene – they really bring it to life. What are they doing? Chatting about the game? Moaning about the boss? Who knows, but it all adds to the realism of the layout.

A theme on its own though is useless – you still have to make a start which as you’ll know is something I’ve very fond of saying.

It doesn’t matter how much thought you give to your theme, unless you actually do something nothing will happen.

So build that bench or use that old table in the shed that’s just gathering dust.

Star playing with track. Now you’re on your on way!

Your family will see a dusty old table with an oval train track. But in your mind’s eye you’ll see a bustling lumber mill, with workers unloading the latest train of logs, while on the otherside of the world you created, the rich green of the forest parts only for the tracks you’ve laid.

Sounds fun? Then what’s stopping you. You can pick any theme you like: model railroad logging layouts, urban, farm, desert, mountains, old west, steam, electric, freight, vintage… you are only limited by your imagination.

Choose whatever you want – it’s your world and your fun. To hell with everybody else.

And don’t forget, if you want to make that start, just like Steve did all those years ago, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

19 Responses to Model railroad logging layouts

  1. Paul says:

    Very nice update on the layout Steve…..would be nice to see a video clip of it working etc but 5 stars from me here

  2. James Marek says:

    Nice looking layout! Suggestion: the logs in the mill pond appear to be floating above the water surface instead of actually in the water. It appears they were placed there after the pond was already finished. Maybe some work there would make it look more realistic. Keep up the great work!!!


  3. Chuck says:

    Awesome layout, great scenery and detail. I would like to see more pictures of the motive power and rolling stock too. Keep up the great work.

  4. Jack Bury says:

    Nice work. You’ve done a great job on the layout.

  5. Cary B says:

    Awesome looking layout Steve. It certainly has a great mix of detail. Has the look of a very pleasant place to live, work and conduct business
    Thanks for sharing
    Cary in New Market Maryland

  6. Lynn Taubeneck says:

    Great layout. Very nice details and I love the theme. About the logs, I cut mine in half and glued them to the surface of the water and they look great!

  7. Mike Balog says:

    I Like the concept of the layout and the different scenes present taking you thru the steps from harvesting the trees to the finished product. How did you make your saw mill pond? What did you use to make the water? Reminds me of “tin foil” with all the reflections off it. Could you elaborate ? Do you have the lights on a timer for Daytime?.. Just wondering, excellent details throughout. Ask the town highway dept. to paint white lines down the road and parking spaces in the town center.

  8. Robert Brady says:

    The floating logs is no big deal (as per James) but what has my attention seems all tracks are dead end. No continued traveling? Why?

    The Critic

  9. Bill in Virginia says:

    Great looking layout Steve! I’m sure you have a lot of fun operating it.

  10. Rob McCrain says:

    Steve, What a wonderful layout. I love your main street, it looks just right for America. You captured a lumber operation so well. I hope my new n scale layout turns out half as well. Thank you for allowing Al to publish it. Keep up the great work, Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  11. Marklin ed says:

    Great looking Steve, always wanted to build a logging railroad. Keep up up the wonderful work, as you know a layout is NEVER DONE
    Marklin ed upstate N Y

  12. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Steve….fabulous looking layout. I love you detailed scenery around the railroad.
    Great job…… I know what you mean about the old hands…..also my knees make it difficult to get under the layout for modifications. But we try.

  13. Mark T. Pianka says:

    A job well done!! Looks good enjoy the hobby!! Make your layout the way you want!!

  14. Gary skinner says:

    Where is all the wiring hidden?

  15. THOMAS says:

    Do trains run on this layout ? Where are they ? I do not see them running !

  16. Alabama Mike says:

    Steve, you have an amazing layout. The scenery is beautiful and well detailed. I don’t how you have so much in a small place, yet it does not seem to be crowded.
    Keep up the great work.

  17. Will in NM says:

    Steve, I am amazed by all the layout and details you’ve managed to build in just 5 by 7 feet. Yours is the first N scale logging layout I’ve ever seen and you’ve done a great job of capturing the genre in N scale. Personally, I gave away all my N scale equipment a while back when I realized my hands and eyesight were just not sharp enough to work in 1:160 scale. HO is about as small as I can manage these days.

    I agree that the logs in the sawmill pond should not be floating completely above the water surface as others have mentioned. Also, you might use some of Bill’s mountain finishing techniques to improve the surfaces of your exposed rock faces. Still, overall you’ve done a fantastic job of building one of the best N scale layouts I’ve ever seen. I especially like the town main street with all the people, lighting and details. It looks like a very inviting place to live.

  18. Steve Harness says:

    MANY THANKS for all the helpful comments!! It always helps to have second sets of eyes look over a project and willing to offer constructive builds!!!

  19. Brian Rockey says:

    Wonderful layouts everyone – well done!
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

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