Sunday, January 2, 2011


Quite a few years ago, my brother-in-law heard of Northlandz which claims to be the worlds largest model railroad. While I quite like model trains, we never got around to going to New Jersey to see it. This year when my sister and brother-in-law were visiting, we decided that this would be a good outing.

It's located in Flemington, NJ, about 10 miles west of Princeton so after we had lunch at Zorba's Brother, we headed off to the exhibit.

There were about thirty people lined up to get in and take a look at the entry prices. Apparently on a good day they can have a couple of thousand people visit and slow days have three to four hundred. Clearly the place is making money and good luck to the owner who built it.

My camera does not do very well in low light, so many of the photos are blurry, but you will get the idea. You can see some of the plastic that stops small children climbing onto to the exhibit.

The owner sold us our tickets and mentioned that it would take us two hours to go through it all. Right, I thought. The building is two stories and probably about two hundred feet long. You enter the exhibit and follow a one way path that wends its way up and down. After about ten minutes, we came across a sign saying we had completed 2% of the path.

The round house is interesting but not really representative. Most of the engines appear to be the General Motors EMD-FT. Steam and electric engines were in very short supply.

After a while, I decided the owner was not really interested in engines, carriages and wagons; his primary passion was bridges.

He built this mountainous landscape filled with gorges and rivers. 

Where the trains go to sleep. Not that many were sleeping. There were dozens of them running around popping out of tunnels all the time. It was rare that you couldn't see a moving engine.

This exhibit of a big city with skyscrapers was a little separate from the others.

His secondary passion appears to be ramshackle industrial buildings clinging to the sides of steep cliffs. It's all very fantastic and at times you wonder how he managed to actually position the buildings on the sides of these  cliffs.    

Most of the track is HO gauge. There is a small section of O gauge (two and three rail versions).

These gorges could be twenty feet deep, I seem to remember we counted 9 levels of train lines.

Some of these bridges are works of art in their own way.

This bridge is enormous, maybe it is 40 foot long.

I really liked this photo, even as I took it.

More of these whimsical structures.

We all laughed at this crashed plane. No doubt it was Captain Sully leading his passengers off down the ladders.

A curious part of the exhibit where mirrors were used to create an endless vista effect.

The control room.

Half way through the exhibit, you go through a central auditorium which features these two beautiful old organs. In addition, there is also a more modern organ which probably is more functional, but it isn't worth a photo.

It took us about 75 minutes to go through the exhibit and we could have taken a good deal longer but it was getting late. The final attraction is a train you can ride on just outside the building. It goes for a journey through the nearby woods, passing by the local creek.

Was it worth the journey? I would have to say 'definitely' if you have any interest in model trains and buildings. I've never seen any model layout that even begins to approach this one.

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