News & Reviews News Meet Doug Tagsold

Meet Doug Tagsold

By Doug Tagsold | February 5, 2024

The social aspect of the hobby is just as important as constructing a layout

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What was your first train set (or locomotive)?

model steam locomotive crosses trestle
ouble headed engines No. 73 and 59 lead a train of empty ore cars back to the gold and silver mines located near Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Silver Plume. Here we catch the train crossing a small stream as it charges upgrade in Clear Creek Canyon. Doug Tagsold photo

Like so many other modelers, I started with Lionel trains. As a young child, both of my grandparents’ homes had a Lionel train layout in the basement. I naturally assumed that a Lionel train set was a standard part of every home’s basement. When visiting other relatives or friend’s homes, I always asked to go to the basement to see their trains. Never did I imagine that some basements did not have model trains in them!

Describe your model railroading philosophy in 6 words.

“Sharing my modeling creativity with others.” I have always enjoyed designing and building model railroads. But in my younger years, I was basically a lone wolf modeler, enjoying the hobby all by myself. None of my childhood friends shared my interest in trains, or so I thought. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that one of my childhood friends who grew up on the same street as me was also active in model railroading. Today, the social aspect of the hobby is just as important to me as the designing and constructing of a layout. Getting together with friends for an operating session is one of the things I enjoy most in the hobby.

What has been your biggest modeling success?

man next to model train layout
Doug Tagsold next to his C&S layout.

Probably my biggest modeling success has been the number of model railroads I have built. I have built four different model railroad layouts that have appeared in the pages of Model Railroader (February 2021, April 2012, April 2009, and July 1999. Find these issues in our archive: -Ed.), Great Model Railroads (2015, 2016, 2007, 2001), or Model Railroad Planning (2018, 2015, 2010). Each of them was built to a fairly high level of completeness, and each represented a different prototype railroad and/or location. Each one was built to satisfy my desire to represent whatever it was that interested me most at that time.

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

In the past, my biggest challenge has been the fact that I couldn’t stay satisfied with whatever it was I was currently modeling. I have a history of when I neared completing a layout, my mind would start wondering, “What should I build next?” My desire to operate a new layout is what spurs me on during the construction phase, but once the layout is nearly finished, I can’t stop myself from beginning the research and design of a new layout.

I think of it as being like a painter who has just completed a painting. Is he satisfied to just look at and admire that painting for a long period of time, or is he inspired to start another? I was always looking for my next modeling challenge.  However, my current layout, the 1:72 scale Colorado & Southern Clear Creek District, was designed with my favorite features from previous layouts. Hopefully this will be my “masterpiece,” and I will remain satisfied with it long after it is finished.

What’s your least favorite modeling task?

I have never enjoyed wiring a layout, but by far the task I like least is ballasting track. That may be partially due to the fact that most of the model railroads I have built have been fairly large in size, meaning lots of track to ballast. A single-track main line is not too bad, but when I see an entire freight yard waiting for its track to be ballasted, it looks overwhelming and I often look for some other project to work on.

What project(s) have you been working on recently?

model steam locomotive near Rocky Mountains
Colorado & Southern train Extra 69 East drifts downgrade through Clear Creek Canyon on its way back to Denver. Doug Tagsold photo

Recently we added on a sunroom onto the back of our house, and my current C&S layout has been extended into the basement space beneath the new addition. Designing and constructing this new layout extension has breathed new life into the layout. The changes, both scenically and operationally, have been significant, almost as if I had built a completely new layout. In my earlier years I would have done all of this work myself. But this time I accepted the help from many of the members of the C&S operating crew. Not only did this speed the construction process, but I think it also added for the crew members the feeling of being a bigger part of the layout, and for them to also share in the pride of this most recent layout accomplishment.

See more on Doug’s YouTube channel:

See more of Doug’s work

Colorado & Southern Train 45/46 Central City Freight video

Denver, Front Range & Western track plan

Terminal of Toledo RR track plan

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