Model Railroading is Sophisticated, Vol. 1

Model railroading is among the most sophisticated of hobbies, and if you find this to be an odd statement, then by all means, please read on.

So that we are all operating with the same sense of the word, 'sophisticated' means, "having a refined knowledge of the ways of the world cultivated especially through wide experience" (Merriam-Webster)

To help explicate what I mean, answer to the following question; what does it take to execute a model railroad at a high level?

I have embedded a Model Railroad Hobbyist video of Mike Confalone's Allagash railroad. The Allagash is a premier layout. It breaks from the familiar to model Maine in late winter, and it does so spectacularly.

What does it take to execute at this level? 


Whatever the answers are, they relate to knowledge and talent in a very diverse set of domains. This includes knowledge of history, railroad prototypes, rail operations, model train operations (because they are different), and talent in construction (as it differs from modeling), and modeling (as it differs from construction), electronics, painting and astute conceptions of layout, space and color, and the list is far from complete. So incomplete, but an attempt to compile an exhaustive list becomes tedious.

The point is this: in what other hobbies is the confluence of such a diverse set of talents required? Model railroading is unique in that it ranks among an exclusive set of pastimes in this regard.  In fact, in this moment, I am at a loss to think of any that cast a net quite as broad as model railroading.

As I write, the voices of past professors ring in my head.  "Blaine," they say. "You are making a facile argument; you are preaching to the choir."  Besides, it is flattering to be told that our hobby is sophisticated. There will be no voice of dissent here.

But, the purpose of my blog is not to entitle us for the favor of those outside of our community, but rather, to speak to those within it. Renewed appreciation for the breadth of our hobby helps us relate to those within it. This is where the blog is going.

But for now, let us rest on 'model railroading is spectacular.'


Blaine Hadfield

2 Responses


April 06, 2017

“no voice of decent here”: I believe you meant “dissent”.

David Brockmeier
David Brockmeier

April 05, 2017


An interesting take on the hobby. Sophisticated is a unique way to look at it. Just one thing however, the word you need in this sentence “There will be no voice of decent here.” Is “dissent”.

Good grammar is the decent thing to do.



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