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|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm) and Garden Train Store (tm)|
Trains running in your garden are fun. For many people, it's even more fun when the trains have a purpose, such as communities and industries to serve. Your stores, stations, and water towers will be out even when the trains are put away. And they give you many opportunities to bring realism, interest, purpose, and charm to your railroad.
Structures You Can Build - As you can see from our Structures articles, we've been telling people how to make, adapt, or prepare structures for their garden railroads since 1999. But most garden railroaders start off with "store-bought" buildings so we want to make certain you have access to those as well.
Structures You Can Buy - The rest of this page lists buildings that were created specifically for garden railroads. Since we first posted this page, many of the buildings we listed have sold out, but, fortunately, other buildings have become available online.
Update for 2020This page started out as a buyers' guide with reviews and links to sturdy, weather-resistant structures and accessories. We still have several of those, but, unlike a few years ago, they are almost all from a single source, and some of those are getting hard to find in kit form.
The PIKO buildings shown on this page have lovely details. They tend to be a little smaller than POLA or AristoCraft buildings, which used to be widely available. They work very well with PIKO and (now discontinued) HLW and AristoCraft trains.
Most of them look fine on a railroad that features LGB or Bachmann Big Hauler trains, especially the houses and storefronts, which usually aren't sitting right next to the trains anyway.
If you come across any hard-to-find POLA buildings (sometimes labeled LGB/POLA), you'll find that they are better suited to LGB and Bachmann trains in scale, but most of them model European prototype that won't look quite right with US-style trains. I am not linking to any because they are in such short supply that they will be gone by the time this page is posted.
The buildings listed on this page are weather-resistant, sturdy, and designed to look good with most garden trains. I also have links for detailed painting and assembly instructions for several of the buildings.
To place the buildings on my railroad, I usually bury 2"x8"x16" stepping stones/landscaping blocks. This gives them solid, level foundation and keeps plants from growing up when you move them off the railroad. They also make nice stepping stones when you have a lot of landscaping or trimming to do. Just move your buildings aside to move around the railroad and move them back when you're done.
A Note about Product Availability We post these descriptions to help you make informed decisions and to learn what is available, even if the suppliers we usually recommend have a short supply. In some cases, we will allow a description to remain on line, even without a supplier link, if we have reason to believe that the product will become available again later. If you want a particular product, but we have no supplier button or the supplier's page says they are sold out, let us know, and we'll recommend a substitute or try to help you find one elsewhere. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience or confusion.
For more detailed information about why model trains and related products seem to "come and go" and why I have stopped listing prices for products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending good products from suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)
About "Beginning" Piko Structures The first several Piko structures listed below use essentially the same basic components and construction, so if you start, say with the smallest "Gingerbread" house, then move on to the churches, stores, or schoolhouses, you'll be able to apply any "lessons learned" as you progress.
Other SourcesLongtime readers know that I scroung for accessories, a habit that started when I first got into the hobby. At that time few North American-style buidings were available and, frankly, money was tight. I still scrounge, even though I don't, technically have to, largely because of the "thrill of the hunt."
Here are some ways you might consider scrounging yourself.
ConclusionThese offerings have changed along with changes in the hobby, including LGB (who promoted the POLA buildings) changing ownership several times in the last twelve years.
As vendors and providers come and go, we may see new "players" and products in a few years. But in the meantime, the products on this page should help you get a start on your railroad, cities, and towns.
Please let me know if you need a specific product that is not listed here and I will try to locate it for you.
Best of luck,
Note: Family Garden Trains?, Garden Train Store?, Big Christmas Trains?, BIG Indoor Trains?, and BIG Train Store? are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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