How To Expert Tips Finding inspiration for model railroad layouts on social media

Finding inspiration for model railroad layouts on social media

By Mitch Horner | June 21, 2024

Find inspiration on your layout on these social media sites

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Sometimes, an idea for a layout strikes like a bolt of lightning. You can see everything, from the benchwork to the yard design to the topography. All you have to do is build.

Occasions like that, though, are infrequent.

More often than not, modelers require inspiration at one point or another in the process of realizing their layout. But where can one find inspiration for their model railroad layout? Sure, you can turn to books, films, archival materials, maps, a myriad of resources. Those are all certainly useful, and this article does not mean to denigrate them. One resource, though, is too often overlooked by many model railroaders: Social media. In the right context, social media can be a helpful resource on the proverbial tool belt of the model railroader. This article aims to explore various social media sites, from commonly used platforms to more niche, rail enthusiast focused sites, and identify what inspiration you can glean for your model railroad layouts.


A screenshot of the HO scale model railroading group facebook home page

The most commonly used social media platform may also be the most multi-faceted, at least for the purposes of the model railroader. Facebook offers a variety of options for the model railroader searching for inspiration. First, there are model railroad groups. Often times, these groups are focused around a central theme, such as CSX model railroaders, with more than 4,000 members, or HO scale model railroading, which boasts nearly 55,000 members.

Groups exist for other scales and railroads, too. Similarly, inspiration for your layout can also be found on various railfan groups and historical pages, such as Historic Chicago. Simply find a page related to the line, region, or city you’re interested in to uncover a treasure trove of photographs showing the area and era you’re modeling as it was.


A screenshot of the youtube page of Larry Puckett

While Facebook is more useful to converse with other modelers and discover materials relevant to your layout, YouTube is home to a wide range of videos related to model railroading. Here, you can find railfanning content and as well as layout visits to pique your modeling interest and inspire you to continue work on your own layout. Among others, Model Railroader contributor Larry Puckett can be found at his channel The DCC Guy. And don’t forget to visit Video for exclusive layout visits, webcam livestreams,, and more video content related to prototype and scale railroads that can’t be found anywhere else.


A screenshot of Pinterest, with images of model railroad layouts displayed

Pinterest offers a broad spectrum of prototype, historical, and scale railroad photographs. While it lacks the group forum element of Facebook, Pinterest offers a more intuitive search function that provides image results based on a search term rather than groups that contain relevant images. For modelers looking for inspiration from photographs, Pinterest is the best place to start due to its vast library of images.

A screenshot of the homepage of

Speaking of images, focuses entirely on prototype photos and boasts a highly specific search function, which allows users to find images of specific locomotives and rolling stock. Users can filter by model, manufacturer, road and even road number. This image database contains more than 770,000 images from approximately 8,000 photographers. submissions are reviewed by dedicated photo screeners to ensure submissions meet their quality standards.

A screenshot of the homepage of is a large rail enthusiast forum. While this site focuses on prototype railroading, it also frequently features scale modeling discussion. It’s a useful, easy-to-use source for modelers looking for information that might inspire their modeling efforts. The range of topics covered is wide, and a great amount of detail is available

These sites can be tremendously helpful for those searching for inspiration for their model railroad layouts. Hopefully the next time you need inspiration for your layout, these sites are able to offer something helpful!

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