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October 2020

Model Railroader has been the leading model train magazine for the past 75 years.  Each month, we bring you step-by-step modeling projects, fascinating photo tours of model train layouts, unbiased product reviews, new product announcements, tips from the experts and much more!

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North by North Western

Winding rivers and dense stands of evergreen trees. The rumble of diesel engines and the echo of steam whistles. Fishermen hoping to reel in the big one and tourists looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. These are just some of the sights and sounds on John Mueller's HO scale Chicago & North Western (C&NW) Northern Memories layout. The 32 x 39-foot model railroad is set in the northwoods of Wisconsin in 1953.

Modeling the Civil War in HO scale

I was 8 years old when my grandfather told me one of his more captivating stories, of meeting Civil War veterans in his youth. Most striking was his elaboration of their appearance. All five veterans were missing a body part. His story was my first imprint for the American Civil War.

The next was my first trip to Gettysburg, Pa. This experience pulled me to learn about those events. Gettysburg was my second ‘wow’ moment, and the Civil War was securely embedded into my psyche.

In April 1964, Model Railroader published “A Civil War Layout” by Bob Hawley. Reading this article was hugely influential. Bob’s article conveyed possibilities that lit my enthusiasm for building a Civil War-themed model railroad.
A Great Northern local, grain elevator, and Railbox boxcar

Freight cars of the '70s, Part 3

Through the transition era (World War II to the late-1950s), railroads were interested in general-purpose cars. Boxcars were the ultimate general-purpose car, carrying manufactured goods, grain, lumber, food products – plus anything else that could be put in a bag, box, or crate or lashed to a pallet.

But loading and unloading some of these products, grain especially, was labor intensive. Once railroads had sued for the right to set competitive rates for moving grain, it made sense to buy specialized grain hoppers that could be loaded and unloaded quickly.

Rotary switch couplers for RailCrew uncouplers

RailCrew uncouplers from Rapido Trains offer a reliable way to switch cars in hard-to-reach areas. Learn how Craig Williams controls 13 uncouplers using a single toggle switch and a rotary selector.


On the Web
Executive Producer David Popp talks about the Jones Island project in Episode 6 of Rehab My Railroad

See this month's highlights, including free preview videos, from our subscription video channel, Model Railroader Video Plus!

From the Editor

Introducing a new print and video series

Railway Post Office

Letters from our readers

Ask MR

This "bear trap" caught cinders, not bears

Heritage Fleet

The HO boxed set explosion

DCC Corner
TCS Universal Wi-Fi Throttle with wrist lanyard

Finally, a universal throttle we can love

On Operation
A Conrail caboose in ABS territory on ex-Erie double-track mainline near Smithboro, N.Y.

Automatic Block Signals

Trackside Photos

Photos from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

Alternate uses of house cars



Freight yard design and operation.

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