World largest layout

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by JVRR, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. JVRR

    JVRR Member

  2. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Interesting that they claim Northlandz to be the "Largest in the World", when it is smaller than Wonderland in Hamburg.
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Technically, not the largest layout. It is actually a very large collection of many small "layouts" (about 150 ) combined into one display.
    Been there, some of the work is exceptionally good, some of it ........ Still, worth seeing if you are in the Flemmington, N.J. area.
  4. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Yep, I've been there about 5 times now - It's worth seeing for the immensity of it. And having it all hand built.. it's amazing :) :)
  5. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member


    Hello all:
    I spent a good part of the day at Northlandz in Flemington NJ., I have been there since its opening and a few times since. I took over 100 pics of the fine detail that went into Bruce Williams creations. After this last visit, i was very disappointed regarding the lack of maintenance to the layout and building. At about $15 per adult, one would assume there would be a kitty for a maintenance fund. A good portion of the lighting, either the lamps were missing, or the ballasts were blinking. I realize the quantity of people that traverse the mile or so of walkways, that items would be missing / damaged from the layout.
    If you were to travel to the Northlandz for the first time, I guarantee you that you will be in utter amazement. To a repeat visitor, it seems that this display has gone down hill over the years. During my past visits, Mr. Williams would not hesitate running a majority of the trains on his many layouts. Today I was lucky enough to see at least one railroad running on each layout.
    I will post pics of the individual vignettes if you would like, once I photoshop some light into them.
  6. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I was worried that this might happen.... I wonder if he's too busy now to maintain it. Or mayvbe he had some staff leave.... :( :( :( it might be "getting old" and deteriating faster than he can keep up with it :( that would be a shame.........
  7. Petervan

    Petervan Member

    I Quite shore this is Northlandz in Flemington NJ. I have there a number times. The gentleman that made Northlandz. First made the layout in his basement. Then added on to the basement to make the layout large. I have seen the same bridges and tunnels at his home in Three Bridges NJ. In the 1970's The detail on the bridges and landscape is done to look as real as posible.
  8. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Yup - that's him and that's the place.. his name is actually Bruce Williams Zaccagnino, that's where the "z" at the end of Northlandz comes from.... The web site is here:

    Definatly worth a look especially for the HO modelers :)

    I've been there 5 times, but not in the last 2 years...
  9. peedee

    peedee New Member

    I am not a model railroader. I was however in the employ of The Great American Railway (as it was known before its opening) as a carpenter more than ten years ago. I moved from Jersey to Chicago and have a workshop in Mettawa, near sumpter 250. I have sometimes wondered whether Northlandz was even still in operation. I found this site via google, while wasting time this eve.
    The deterioration is no surprise, the place is built like a tree house, and Bruce always had a lot going on. How the fire marshall and township building inspectors were convinced to allow that place to open to the public always intrigued me. I'm glad it still entertains folks.
    As many of you know, there were a good number of you types who volunteered their time and creative energy to create much of the scenery. Bruce created most of the large scale landscape, bridges, and more, but much of the space had been doled out in parcels along various stretches of the tour for others to create. I always particularly loved the derailment, and Civil War era scenes. The sheer drama of the open vistas is cool too.
    Northlandz is unique, and having spent the time as I did during its creation, I've been curious how it was received by serious enthusiasts who have a more critical standard of measure.
  10. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Will is right, insofar as the title of this thread is misleading: Northlandz really isn't the world's largest layout. At the moment this is 'Miniature Wonderland' in Hamburg, Germany, but there is a second enterprise in Berlin, capital of Germany ('Loxx Miniature Worlds') which even tries to surpass the Hamburg layout...

    What I like about Northlandz is the overwhelming mountain scenery and the giant bridges Bruce built. Some aspects remind me a bit of John Allen's layout. And it is certainly worth seeing it. Too bad if it really should deteriorate due to lack of maintenance... :(

  11. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Well, having been there 5 times.... Sometimes with different people... I've noticed the following things...

    ~~ It's overwhelming the "First Time" -- this is no exaggeration.. There is so much to see, so much to take in so much going on as far as scenery, that it takes 2 - 3 times to sink it all in...

    ~~ pictures/video - Bring your camera!!!! But be ready to carry it for a mile and for an hour - there is so much "Optical Illusions" forced perspectives, fake (mirrored) areas, multi levels etc that you will want to take a pic/video of something... maybe 5 or 6 somethings.....

    ~~ kids... Leave them home if they are not of age... How do you determine this??? If they cant take a walk with you through a mall without touching everything, wandering around, if they have a short attention span - Don't take them...... Why???because you will miss a lot of the display from being distracted by them... And it truly takes away from the entire reason for paying the money to get in.... Lets see 13.75 X 2 = 27.50 then a child's fee.. Hmmmmmm $9.75 more.... We're up to $37.25 for a family of 3 :( :( A tad pricey to just drag your kids through... Better to wait till all the family can appreciate it.. :)

    ~~ We discovered a learning curve.. the first time (in awe) it took way longer to go through than it did the 3rd time.. because there was a lot of "the same" things.... but - it's a great thing :) you always seem to find something new in almost every room :)

    ~~ The mini scenes, Derailment, Plane crash, Golden Spike etc.... these are super-detailed mini scenes that boggle the mind - if you stop and think that these things were hand made, not bought somewhere.... The details are tremendous and tongue-in-cheek is priceless :) Also.. you really have to stop and think about each scene throughout the layout, because some things don't stand alone. they are part of a story.......if you can take the time to appreciate the work and the insanity of it all... :) :) (see: 'leave kids at home' above - this is the stuff most will miss )

    ~~ The display itself.... All I want to see is a floor plan of the "visitor Path" through the building.... You start on ground level and from what we've figured out - you might get back down there 2 times, then the 3rd you're done.... You wind through 5 - 6 levels of a huge, winding, mile long, ramp that actually has signs marking eack "quarter mile" you have traveled :) It's a-maze-ing, the way they have created it, to get you to see the same things (about 4 display structures) 3 times from 3 Very Different angles and the "structures" look totally different... You really have to be on your toes to see what tremendous thought and planning went in to it, to make it enjoyable for all ages...

    ~~ The buildings.... Some - believe it or not - are normal things you might see on any layout.... Junk yards, factories... etc.... But.... there is a twist to a lot of them.. for instance - a hotel built over the edge of a cliff... Perfectly built, sound as rock... but when you look out the windows - you're a scale mile above the bottom... A sign says.. "We can't rent out the top floors" or something to that effect :) :) too funny!!! There's also a farm, on the side of a mountain.. my favorite line is "All the cows are names ILene" Say it outloud - you'll get it!!! :D

    ~~ there are huge 30 X 30 and larger display "sections" that tell short stories that you can really appreciate.. A few houses in a gorge that is 2 ft long, 4" wide... and you think.. Watch out for falling rocks!!!! :) Another is the entire Horseshoe Curve - really cool!!!!

    ~~ All the time, when all 120+ trains are running... You can most always see 1 train, and at times you can see 3...

    It's overall aspect to the "regular person" is lost, in that - unless you have struggled to make something look "good" on your layout - you can't appreciate the sweat and aggravation all this must have took - to make it all look good!!!!! :) (the 3 ft rule is used and abused here!!!) To the "high Detailed" modeler and "railroad Modeler" this is simply a display, no cars are switched, no operations at all, except for continuous running trains in loops... through out the scenery...

    For the "beginner" this is both a melting pot for ideas and downright intimidating at the same time.... One minute you are looking at a small (4 x 5 scene) Sparsely detailed... a minute later you're looking at a 4 X 3 section with 40 - 50 buildings that must have taken hundreds of hours to build... Really Truly Impressive... :)

    Overall - It's something that should be seen at least once by every modeler in every scale.... Just to experience it.....

    But after 4 - 5 times ................ We haven't been back in 3 years now... Maybe next year! :)
  12. NCMRailroad

    NCMRailroad Member

    THE WORLDS LARGEST LAYOUT... According to WALTHERS CATALOG (using HO scale - Code 100 flex track) in order to drive that "last spike" into the final rail tie (not including the cost of rail nails) would have a pretty little price tag of.......$56320.00 Before shipping and handling and any taxes if applicable. Hmmm... And that's JUST the track. I can (or can't!) imagine the GRAND Total $$$ of the entire set up. Pretty spectacular to say the very least!!!!! Makes me wonder what kinda time was also invested in it as well.
  13. KCS

    KCS Member

    WOW...... If I only had the room to build full scale mountains like that. I could do it cheap.

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