Toms fantastic railroad scenery

Got this in from Tom – and have added it an earlier post I found from him – what a layout!

“Al here a couple of the Narragansett RR. I talked to Bob Brown last week he made my head swell, he remembered Bruno’s garage, like it so much he made a copy for his layout.,

Later Tom”

He’s a man of few words, but the picture speak for themselves. A real stunner!

Here’s his original post:

“Thanks for all the hits and updates, thought I’d include a bit of my On3 for you to view.

Tom – Pres. CEO & mostly janitor … Narragansett RR”

A big thanks to Tom for mailing his pics – what a layout!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

126 Responses to Toms fantastic railroad scenery

  1. Simon Zeoli says:

    Terrific detail fantastic layout; felt like I was looking through a portal into
    the American past.

  2. jim says:

    I have two words that came to me after seeing it. WOW, AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Don says:

    Absolutely inspiring Tom, well done!

  4. John Fuller says:

    This is truly one of the finest miniature displays I have seen in model railroading. Tom has made this setup exceptionally balanced between the scenery and the railway system. The railway is not overbearing and the only item of interest in the plan. It would be a wonderful idea if someone would video this display in action, in detail. It would be very useful to others in seeing how detailed they can be when they put their mind and effort into their hobby.
    What a great pleasure to view these few photos. Please send out more.

  5. Glenn says:

    Wish I had the time to get started with my boys. I would be happy with a layout which looked half as good. The level of detail is amazing. Great job.

  6. Mark Allen says:

    SUPERIOR CRAFTSMANSHIP!!!! Wow!! No need to say more!

  7. Jim Cope says:

    It doesn’t get better than this!

  8. Gene says:

    That looks about as real as anything I have ever seen…fantastic job on details that look so proper.

  9. robert coe says:

    It just goes to show that the train is not the main feature of a railway but completes the story of a town, city, village or just an area and its inhabitants how and where they live. I envy you Tom to have the skills, artistry and patience.

  10. Robert C. says:

    Tim’s attention to detail during this peroid in history is truly amazing. You truly feel like you are back in time. An incredible layout. GREAT JOB!!!!

  11. Norm Lawrence says:

    I moved to York, PA eight years ago from RI. I remember fondly Carrie’s Seafood Restaurant in Narragansett, RI. Great work with the scenery! I am making slow but steady progress with my own layout.

  12. Gary Baker says:

    Tom! This is probably the greatest detailed model i have seen. Your attention to detail makes this model soooo very real. i can hear the crickets chirp, and the birds singing. Very well done, makes me feel like i was growing up again!

  13. Tony Prior says:

    This is a Marvellous layout which puts us all to shame.

  14. Robert says:

    Never seen better. I’m dripping with envy. (Lol). Wish I had that skill level.

  15. Patrick says:

    Best I have ever seen. Great job!

  16. Ed Sumner says:

    Excellent craftsmanship. I’ve honestly never seen an On3 layout done poorly; it’s seemingly easier to work in the larger scales for narrow gauge.

  17. Bob says:

    Such an incredible work of art! I am so impressed and hopeless in ever trying to duplicate such greatness!

  18. Steve says:

    Beautifully done. Is the scale On3 or Hon3?

  19. Walt S. says:

    Absolutely brilliant, beyond belief. I’d like to see an overall view of this layout. I couldn’t produce something like this in a hundred years. The creativity and workmanship that went into this is amazing. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. Stanley says:

    I could actually taste the dust through a portal to the 1930’s. Reminded me of the London-Port Stanley electrified rail era where it ran beside the John Labatt Brewery on Maitland Street in London. I think it proves the point that a well planned and designed layout is more of scenery with some rail rather than the reverse. Fantastic.

  21. LÉO says:

    Incroyable / unbelievable

  22. George says:

    Very nice. Thats what a model should look like.

  23. John Wisnieski says:


  24. Bill says:

    Truly amazing detail. Best I’ve seen!!

  25. Don Surdich says:

    Outstanding. …so real. Good looking railroad ties. Don in California.

  26. Dave says:

    What an awesome display. I have never previously seen such realistic and immaculate detail in any model railroad. So nice, to see the modelling ‘grab’ the viewer’s attention. It would be so nice to see an action video too ! – Please Tom !

  27. Tommy Redman says:

    I’m at a loss for words, however, the realism is absolutely superior to anything I have seen before or likely will see.

  28. MIKE,Seattle WA says:

    Can’t say anymore than what has already been said Tom. WHAT A GREAT LAYOUT!!! The detail is just unbelivable

  29. Rob Storus says:

    I’ve seen a lot of proper railways on this site, this one takes the cake. It’s real and so wonderfully improper.

  30. John Douglas says:

    Respect! That just ooses character. Looks like it could be up there with the Franklin & South Manchester!
    Thank you Tom for taking the time to share your work with us.

  31. Bob Richards says:

    This is fantastic Tom. You’re depicting the era I really, really like. I think life was better then. Maybe that’s because those were the days of my youth. Are some of the old buildings scratch built? They are great and the old tires and things really make the scenes.

  32. Dick Chapple Sr says:

    Now this is really class AAAAA++!!!! Someone from Model Railroader and especially the Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette should be all over this gentleman for a complete story article with everything we all want to know about included. This truly is among the best I have ever seen and I have studied practically every model railroad magazine there is from 1933 on to today.

    This could be the next “Up clear creek” type series of articles that have been ever so wonderful in the Narrow gauge & Shortline Gazette.

    Totally inspiring.

    Thanks so much for these pictures. I really do hope we’ll see and read much more about this one.
    Dick from Hardin Montana USA

  33. Joe says:

    I have been following This blog for several years now and I have never seen a more realistic looking layout. I just decided to go into N Scale and I only hope that I can come 1/2 way as close to As somerealistic as you have done Tom… As someone said earlier,I would love to see a video of this layout! Simply fantastic!

  34. Paco Gayon says:

    Tom, I cannot add more to the opinions of the others. I just like to tell you that I feel less than an amature. Your imagination makes me feel that I could never accomplish one hundred of your creation.
    Thank you for sharing your invaluable accomplishment.
    Paco Gayon

  35. Larry Schwartz says:

    This is amazing. Pure art.
    Thank You for the photos.

  36. Nice sceen’s

  37. Bill says:

    I have been watching your Web Site for some time now. I have been a Model Railroader for over 40 years in N-Scale. These were some of the most fantastic and well done scenes that I have ever seen! Great work Tom! Wish I had that type of ability and attention to detail as you have.

  38. Jim says:

    Amazing. I cannot imagine how many hours Tom spent on this. There is a level of detail very seldom seen in this hobby.

  39. One reason I dont like this layout. It makes mine look so paltry!! This layout has so much detail. Absolutely beautiful job. I just love the diver getting ready to enter the water. Stunning detail right up to the helmet air hose!! Please post more photos or a video!!

  40. Stuart says:

    That is staggering, everything looks so real and done beautifully. Well done

  41. Gary says:

    Fantastic work!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. TONY says:


  43. Chris says:

    Amazing pic’s, really inspiring

  44. Denny B in Pennsylvania, USA says:

    SO lifelike, this man has talent !!!!! I love the attention to the minutest detail. I only hope that my “S” gauge layout will look a small % as good as Tom’s.

  45. Alan Hudson says:

    Hi Al.

    You can’t be anything but bowled over by the attention to detail that’s gone into Toms layout. I agree with comment above. the railway runs through a believable landscape rather than being the dominant feature and that’s what makes it so special. I can remember reading recently a pro modeler pointing out that the landscape was there long before the railway so the trick is to make make it look like your rails are threading through an established scene. Toms layout does that to a T.

    Very, very good.

  46. Pete Wotring says:

    I had to keep looking-just super detail and any time you may have some spare time-I need help with scenery on my layout-it is a hobby in progress!

    Thanks for sharing you talent!!!

  47. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Truly amazing,thanks for sharing.

  48. one of thes day’s i will get mine stared .trying to buy thing’s off ebay but no luck. bid angest dealer’s is hard to do. when you are on a fix income.

  49. Ben Zalewski says:

    fantastic detail!

  50. This is on great great lay out. My hat is off to you.

  51. Joe says:

    Absolutely phenomenal photos…Something I have always wanted to do…A real prototypical layout…In order to make mine complete, I am looking for a diner like in the 4th picture in this group…I can kitbash an old trolley, but they have been hard to find…Any help would be appreciated…

  52. Charles Peterson says:

    Absolutely incredible! One of the best I’ve seen.

  53. paul Otway says:

    Looks so realistic especially the loco shed and industrial area.

  54. Tom says:

    Looking at Tom’s Model Railroad I can look back in time to another great railroad in ” Roadside America ” named America in Minuture in Shartellsville, PA

    The first time I saw that I was amazed, I will not go in to detail reference breivty sake. This is the best I saw in 1953, and several times thereafter visits would take me back. Has been top on my list all these years. Until today … these pictures of Tom’s railroad are a mirror to roadside america and the detail is beyond discribing … so I won’t even try.

    What I will try is this: This takes me back in time … even some before my time. It makes me stop and think about the hardships … the bad times and the good times … life good or bad but lived where did that time go hear we are today and a better person because of it all.

    Thank you Tom for sharing the pictures … Thank you Al … for bringing them to us. Congradulations a piece of History preserved for the ages.

  55. Kaustav says:

    magnificent! The diving scene reminded me of Captain Haddock in Red Rackham’s Treasure!!

    Very well done – A true piece of art…

  56. K Cunningham says:

    looks great …. the real thing

  57. Pete says:

    Like all of you, I’m a train guy. And, the first eight pictures or so were fascinating to me without having trains in them! Great layout and photography. Congratulations.

  58. kenn says:

    You amaze me. I really love the top picture. How do you do it?

  59. THOMAS says:


  60. Don says:

    Outstanding! I can’t imagine the time that you put into this. Excellent job!

  61. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great detail and that is the winner i have sat down and studied every photo the old looking building, the old cars i just love them have never seen them in the magazines or shops.thanks for sharing.

  62. Peter Hogg says:

    It shows shows what talent, patience and brainpower can achieve when you put your mind to it, this should be an inspiration to us all, truly impressive modelling and photo’s….am I jealous ?……you bet your boots, am I envious ?, absolutely, am I motivated to make a model like that ?, YES I AM !.

  63. Maverick405 says:

    FANTASTIC Tom, well done, like me you would rather concentrate on the diorama detail and the trains are merely a moveable part of the scenery.

  64. Alistair Fraser-Peters says:

    I can but only agree with the comments made by my fellow viewers – it is a privilege to be in such creative company. A message for Cecil Johnson: I’am having great fun buying up cheap Chinese train sets from pound stores as and when I can and building them up into something big. They are about O scale and the lack of detail allows you to custom the carriages and locomotives to your own liking. They may never be, in my case, authentic looking GWR, but they’re good and it really is fun. All the best everyone!!!!!!!!

  65. Cameron says:

    Stunning. Thankyou for posting. Like many other readers I would love to see the a video.

  66. Thomas says:

    Unbelievable Detail! Absolutely Awesome!

  67. Ron Mattila says:

    Unbelieveable…………….what a great layout………

    I only hope I can do work like that with my new N gauge layout………….


  68. Jeff Keene Sr says:

    Absolutely awesome!!

  69. simon holmes says:

    Think I need to start again with my layout. I’ve never built one before so I’m making all the classic mistakes!!
    Great pics, lots of inspiration!

  70. John says:

    Breathtaking…… In my book the best work I have seen in years and I am 65 and been modeling all my life. Better than mostly any I have seen before. The guy is an artist and above all he has captured realisum to a dedree not many can match. As near perfection as I have ever seen. Lovely photos but the camera can only se what it sees.
    I would love to buy you a pint.

  71. Bob Miller says:

    Nice work Tom, you are right up there with the greats like Troels Kirk and the late Charles ‘Doc’ Patti.

  72. Ken Scharke says:

    Fantastic,never seen anything as nice and professional.

  73. Tom Keller says:

    ANY Clive Cussler. The Wrecker, It’s centered around trains.

  74. keith says:

    I am so glad you are selling and not breaking it up. I just cannot understand how some modellers can spend lots of money and time building a fantastic layout and then after some time they break it all up and then start building another layout. Your detail work is amazing. Cant wait to see your next project. Keith

  75. Duwayne Virnig says:

    Hi, All …. I couldn’t say any more than was posted already by the folk
    who wrote in. having watched the blogs for several years, I’also interested in any advice that could be posted for electronic control of engines besides DCC whatever … pulse control by Both AC & DC
    Motors ? Having a electronic back ground of most any consumer
    style of appliances …. Microwave, TVs, GDOs, some audio, I’m now in retirement starting Our/My hobby of Model railing. MANY good tips
    You’ve posted! Any schematics around to build ones own speed controls
    after AC or DC is applied ? Or using 555/556 timer chips for control of
    speed of low voltage power to Train signage/crossing signals, whatever ..
    THANKS ….

  76. Keith Thomas says:

    I am working on my HO Great Northern layout and seeking preferred options on purchasing city structures: Feed Mill, Brewery, Station, Church etc.

    What kits do your recommend?
    East Lansing, MI

  77. Linda says:

    Love the details and realism. Very inspiring.

  78. Billy Mills says:

    Clive Cussler’s book THE STRICKER (Issac Bell series) is also train related.

  79. Billy Mills says:

    Almost forgot: Cussler’s book NIGHT PROBE is train related also

  80. William says:

    WOW is right! Haven’t read all 80 posts about Tom’s layout but do wish he’d do a video. Absolutely true that it brings you back to a bygone era!!

  81. Brent Holman says:

    My Father & My Brothers And HO

    Ripped Out Right When I Was Old Enough To Help FINISH, But Alas A Lack A Day

    Decades Later One Of My Brothers Sold Off The 2nd Gen 1/2 Price Purchases, And Then, (Who? Baldwin? ) Went Out Of Business

    $800 1/2 Price, Hobby Store Closings ….And My Eldest Brother: Upon My Fathers Demise, IMMEDIATELY Went And Bout A 2′ By 4′ N-Scale Figure Eight, AND Spent WEEKENDS At The MRRShow At MADISON…(My Mom And I Bought N-Scale For $3.25, 13 vturnouts, enough track to fill a room, 13 Locomotives…When The Giant 3 Loop 2 Tunnel MRR Got Ripped Out, I Had To Help, However, WE All Made An AFX ‘HO’ (Really O) Race Track, Which My Idiot Brother Doesn’t GET. {He Did Finalize The Circuit}
    I MISSED OUT, However I Have Shay Engine Kits, & 23 Steam Locos, So There Is THAT.

    I Remain, As Always A Not Insane Train Guy (Also Illinois Central Ran Behind Our House

    Even The Cats Used To Run With Us, To Experience Deisels

  82. David Chrest says:

    That could have been any 1920’s , 1930’s out skirts of any town in the United States. I loved the way the train snaked through Depression area America. The detail was exquisite , made you feel as though you were there. Thank you for trip through history.

  83. Doug Calderwood says:

    You deserve all the accolades you can get. One thing that disturb me for this time period is the blonde lady in the “shot shots” in front of Aunty Carries. Sorry, just surprised me after seeing how accurate everything else is. Am I wrong?

  84. James Malins says:

    That is stunning. The detail and effect are magnificent. The work and skill in this layout deserve the highest of praise. Well done.

  85. Brian Rockey says:

    What can I say – MASTER CRAFTSMAN – covers it.
    Best to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  86. Brian Olson says:


  87. Ken Rusiska says:

    True to life scenes. We do not live in a pristine world.

  88. John Ruetz says:

    OUTSTANDING. VERY realistic. BEST EVER. A real pleasure to see.

  89. George Zaky says:

    Big Al
    Isn’t it amazing that when you use the word stunning some other artist like Tom comes along and blows you away. This guy belongs with the greats. I would not have seen this marvel if you didnt post it and you use stunning when appropriate.

    I have determined for myself that larger scales enable you to detail better and gorilla fingers and McGoo eyes like mine give me hope that, though I will never achieve Tom’s level, I can achieve acceptable.

  90. Sid says:

    Truly stunning

  91. John says:

    There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t wish to own that layout!

  92. Glyn Jones says:

    Fantastic modeling Tom- beautiful attention to detail and the stories behind each vignette! Great work.

  93. Mark Swart says:

    PLEASE send larger photos to post! These dinky cell-phone pics are FAR too small to see any great detail or to fully appreciate. I am an old guy; my eyesight is not what I would like for it to be, and these small pictures are quite frustrating to me. Thank You!

  94. James Richards says:

    AMAZING realism. One of if NOT the very best model railroading layout i have ever seen. When you can’t see the walls behind the layout it looks so real. WONDERFULLY done. You have a right to be very proud of your work.

  95. Arthur Romano says:

    I want to live there.

  96. HAL MITCHELL says:


  97. paul puig says:

    I am always astounded by the wonderful layouts that people build, but I must say that this is definitely one of the very best, fantastic job Tom.

  98. David G Barnes says:

    Al, first let me thank you for doing this site. It is the first thing i look for every morning. At 77 i got a late start on my ho layout and these photos have done two things for me. They have left me in total disbelief at the detail and obvious love poured into Tom’s work. Second, they have made me realize that i will have to remain a novice and leave the really good work to folks like Tom. In a way I am disheartened that I will never have the time nor the talent to accomplish what i see here, on the other hand I am glad to have lived long enough to see what a true artist can do. I will continue to be a loop runner and will have to be content with the pleasure i get from watching my trains run. I have lowered my standards but that is fine with me, knowing i am totally outclassed. Having this post to refer to will keep me humble and remind me not to be so critical of my own work. If I squint and blur my vision, my stuff don’t look too bad. Thank you again.

  99. Robert Gevert says:

    The scenery is so realistic I can smell the aromas coming from the scenes. Beautiful job!!!

  100. Ruben Simon says:

    Stunning and breathtaking. Just incredible!

  101. Peter Hubbard says:

    I showed the pictures to my wife. I have been building a switch tower from a kit in HO. She has seen the tiny structure I am working on. I pointed out that these pictures are of a train layout that is slightly smaller than the one I am working on. She was surprised; she thought she was looking at actual buildings.
    Amazing modelling job.

  102. Geoffrey Plumb says:

    Truly one of the best layouts I have seen. Excellent detail and all very well thought out. A layout to be truly proud of.

    Geoff P.

  103. 'Bullfrog' in Ontario says:

    Wow! This is truly the ultimate in absolute reality. A treasure of memories, reconstituted into a beautiful piece of history. Everyone is truly in ‘awe’ of this masterpiece. An inspiration to all of us !

  104. Marklin ed says:

    You are the Michelangelo of model railroad layouts. As for all the comments I AGREE……

  105. Rob says:

    I have a new description for you Al…BEYOND STUNNING
    I love the first picture which shows the camo fascia board at the edge of the layout. I have been commenting forever on that topic. It blends in and adds depth to the scene. The finishing touch…
    Well done!

  106. Fred Gevalt says:

    Not so much “realistic” as very heavily stylized – which is, of course, what gives it all its charm. Together with the period look, from the dated vehicles and trains, the layout has a sort of “story book realism” that suggests The Saturday evening Post, or a Norman Rockwell” past, when barn doors slightly unhinged, and pointed roof lines were evocative of simpler times, and model trains for Christmas!

    Of course the stylized flavor is very, very subtle, but it’s what (in my opinion gives the layout most of its character. Truly a work of art – literally.

    Fred Gevalt

  107. Jim AZ says:

    For sure, stunning is a the correct description for this layout. Some great scenes and highly detailed. Depression era? Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  108. Wendell Cox says:

    Really, Really nice. Doing it right.

  109. Mr, Ron from So Mississippi says:

    I love the detail of your layout, but I’m confused by the variety of cars and trucks used. I’m guessing that the era is the 1930’s, but there are cars of the 50’s and 60’s showing. Sorry for the critque of an otherwise perfect scene.

  110. Jeffrey Gainsborg says:

    Simply put, WOW!!!

  111. Dave Karper says:

    Kieth Thomas; check out Mr. Lee’s printouts for grain storage buildings that can be used as is or cut up and parts moved around an bashed into many different styles of buildings.

  112. Dan Piccolo says:

    Reminds me of the great John Allen’s RR. Would love to see a video of the whole layout with trains running.

  113. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Tom, this is a Wow Wow Wow Me layout!!! On par with George Sellios Franklin and South Manchester, You can be extremely proud of your craftsmanship. Thanks for sharing your encouraging work.
    Alastair, a future Hall of Fame here for sure!

  114. Gerald Edgar says:

    Best detailed layout I’ve seen in my 60 yrs of modeling. That includes NMRA layout tours, MR & RMC mags, etc. THE BEST!

  115. Old Taz says:

    How are you gonna tell us where this town is you took the pictures of One fantastic layout All I can say is Bravo beautiful job¡

  116. Ken Kralik says:

    That is the best layout I have ever seen, some people just have what it takes.

  117. Roger Ringnalda says:

    Tom’s abilities and attention to detail and realism is by far the best I have ever seen in pictures! It is too real not to be real and hard to perceive that these pictures are os models and model scenery. What a great job and talent you have Tom. Please share more with us soon and perhaps some action video as well. You are truly a master!

  118. Andrew Aves says:


  119. William Haynes II says:

    Really, Really NICE! Lots of time put into this!

  120. Michael Reader says:

    That’s absolutely brillant.

  121. william janmes palmer says:

    agreed stunning

  122. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Wow Tom……122 responses…… attention to detail and realism is superb……you deserve all of the accoades…..Stunnin……if not the best…one of the best.

  123. richard rudolph says:


  124. Tom Staton says:

    Thank you all for the great comments you have made, in the Aug. issue of Model Railroader mag. which will be out in July, will have shot of my On30 layout, while not complete then it is now 99% done and I will try to post the latest sections on this site, should anyone be traveling in the Syracuse NY area please look me up and you can have a tour of the layout. This I’m afraid is the last of the Narragansett RR, age has caught up with me, I’m proud to say that I have been in Narrow Gauge Gazette 3 times, twice in MR, twice in MRC and many other publications, Tom Staton Pres. CEO and mostly Janitor Naragansett RR

  125. tom staton says:

    While I thank you so much for all the credit you give me but please DON’T down grade your self, As long as your having fun that it. PERIOD.
    My ideas just came from my head and seeing other layouts, Believe everyone can help each other we all need to share and not be so pickey. Here is a great story I had visited George’s FSM layout this was in the early days (decades ago)
    I said this to George This is a massive layout so many businesses and such, But where do all the people live? Sure enough the next visit I made maybe a year or two later there were many homes and such on the layout.
    So let me say this to be creative comes many time from NEED…I am an old guy and need to be tight with a buck (I am a New England Yankee) so that made me think about the ground cover was made by digging up dirt, drying it, sifting it and sometimes adding a blotch of ink and alcohol here and there.
    I mentioned before that the best trees start with the roots,
    Again please don’t get down on yourself. Thanks again Tom Staton Pres. COO and mostly janitor Narragansett RR On30

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