Folks

For those who don’t know, Northlandz is an amazing train layout in NJ. It is mostly HO and has had a small O section. I just went there with some family (including the 4 year old in one of my layout pics)

it is under new management and amazing. They are expanding the O layout, planning a full blown hobby shop and actively working on the layout (we watched). 

While this isn’t exactly appropriate for this forum, I think it’s good enough news for the hobby in general, that I had to mention it. 

see it if you can!

Marty

Original Post

I've been there a couple of times.  My first visit was in 2012.  My last was about 18 months ago during an extended York Week.

Honestly, in 2018 the display was tired and in some places simply dilapidated.  It  was sad to see how even simple maintenance had been neglected.

If the layout is in the hands of new owners, they have a big job ahead of them to bring back a once-remarkable display.

 

 

RT   

I hope they bring it back from the brink.  I thought it had a lot of promise, but I also thought it was somewhat "long in the tooth".  It needs more variety and of course more action.  When I was there, there were a few short HO trains running around, but you could wait five minutes or more to see anything happen at a given location.  That's not conducive to convincing me to come back for another visit.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I hope they bring it back from the brink.  I thought it had a lot of promise, but I also thought it was somewhat "long in the tooth".  It needs more variety and of course more action.  When I was there, there were a few short HO trains running around, but you could wait five minutes or more to see anything happen at a given location.  That's not conducive to convincing me to come back for another visit.

Yes John. That’s why I’m excited. There was more action. They are actively improving the place. Time will tell, but I’m hopeful it will be good. One thing that impressed me is they have young people working there. That bodes well for the hobby. Had I gone there and experienced the same old same old, I wouldn’t have posted. 

I will definitely check this out next time I'm in NJ. 

The founder, Bruce Williams, and my Dad, were friends many years ago when we lived in NJ; I remember going to Bruce's home before he built Northlandz. He added at least 4 basements onto his home so he could expand his massive HO railroad; as I recall, it was so big it took several people to operate it. Bruce also owned Little Hobbies, a train shop in Flemington's Turntable Junction. 

John

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

I went once about 12 yrs ago with my wife and son.  It was so bad I asked for and got my money back.  It will take numerous positive reviews from hobbyists to get me to consider going again.

-Greg

Member of the Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout

 

Please check out the NJ HiRailers website for information about our club.  Our What's New page shows what we've been working on. While visiting the website check our Show Dates for a listing of all our public shows and be sure to visit our Club Store for unique items available for purchase to support our club and worthwhile charities!!

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I too visited Northlandz, maybe six or seven years ago.  As GRJ and RT pointed out, it was disappointing.  Hardly any trains running and those that were making the rounds were two and three car freights with a single F3 or Geep at the head end.  

The original builder probably had grand plans, but it appeared, to me, that he may have taken on too large a task and got bogged down in building endless mountains and wood trestles.  

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Wife and I went there a few months after it originally opened.  The place was pristine!  Long 15 + car trains running everywhere.  Went back i think about  4 years later and it was still okay but you could see it was declining already. They added a outdoor train that you could ride on.  It was very nice with a engine shed tunnel etc.  Hope they bring it back to what it was and maybe even better!

BlueComet400 posted:

I will definitely check this out next time I'm in NJ. 

The founder, Bruce Williams, and my Dad, were friends many years ago when we lived in NJ; I remember going to Bruce's home before he built Northlandz. He added at least 4 basements onto his home so he could expand his massive HO railroad; as I recall, it was so big it took several people to operate it. Bruce also owned Little Hobbies, a train shop in Flemington's Turntable Junction. 

John

Wow! I grew up in Wayne, NJ and used to go to Flemington and Little Hobby all the time when I was just a kid! I haven’t thought about that place in years. I think the scenic railroad that ran there was called Black River and Western if I’m remembering correctly? We used to put pennies on the tracks that would get flattened when the train ran by.

Cheers, Pete

Wow! I grew up in Wayne, NJ and used to go to Flemington and Little Hobby all the time when I was just a kid! I haven’t thought about that place in years. I think the scenic railroad that ran there was called Black River and Western if I’m remembering correctly? We used to put pennies on the tracks that would get flattened when the train ran by.

 

Yes that’s the Black River & Western. It operates an old CNJ branch from Three Bridges where they interchange with the Nonsense Southern (NS) down to Flemington, Ringos and Lambertville which is the old PRR Bel-Del line. 

They currently run tourist trains from Flemington to Ringos with stations in both places, and thanks to the large effort by their volunteers have reopened the line south of Ringos as far as Bowne Station Road. It’s been 20+ years since a train ran to Lambertville but to their credit they are making steady progress on restoring the service. The problem is there’s really nothing for the railroad in Lambertville besides the station (i.e. no freight or revenue).  I was a kid and remember riding behind their steam locomotive #60 to Lambertville and listening as the #60 did a whistle salute back and forth to the New Hope & Ivyland’s #40 on the other side of the river, what a great sound.

They currently have their steam engine running, but the tourist railroad is shut down for the season to reopen in March I believe?

Sorry to side track the topic - here’s hoping Northlandz can salvage the operation. Having visited Minatur Wunderland in Germany several times, I can see the potential tourist attraction a large and great layout can have. 

M. J. Breen

 

TCA 15-71060

LCCA 40229

 

"May the Schwartz be with you" 

Was the O Scale section 2 or 3 rail?

At one time, they had an arrangement with Mantua and MRC (both of whom were also located in NJ) and ran mostly Mantua (HO) equipment using MRC power packs. Unfortunately, both of those sponsors are no longer around, which probably makes the maintenance problem even more difficult.

Bill in FtL

Hey MartyR....thanks for the 411 about this place. We have a sister in law  there in NJ, and on our our way up to visit, I shall detour the "family truckster" and take a visit.

As a favor to all forumites, I'll take some notes and if allowed, pictures for adding a topic here....this may not happen until May 2020...

C-57D  Pilot

I may be wrong but unlike Gullivers Gate, in New York, I believe the Northlandz original owner owned the building the layout is in.  So if the new owners bought the building along with it's contents, maybe there's a better chance that they will succeed in their efforts.  

They also need to reach a larger audience.  Roadside America was well known in it's day and still is recognized by alot of people.  Granted, RA got it's start own the heyday of toy trains.   

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

M J Breen posted:
Wow! I grew up in Wayne, NJ and used to go to Flemington and Little Hobby all the time when I was just a kid! I haven’t thought about that place in years. I think the scenic railroad that ran there was called Black River and Western if I’m remembering correctly? We used to put pennies on the tracks that would get flattened when the train ran by.

 

Yes that’s the Black River & Western. It operates an old CNJ branch from Three Bridges where they interchange with the Nonsense Southern (NS) down to Flemington, Ringos and Lambertville which is the old PRR Bel-Del line. 

They currently run tourist trains from Flemington to Ringos with stations in both places, and thanks to the large effort by their volunteers have reopened the line south of Ringos as far as Bowne Station Road. It’s been 20+ years since a train ran to Lambertville but to their credit they are making steady progress on restoring the service. The problem is there’s really nothing for the railroad in Lambertville besides the station (i.e. no freight or revenue).  I was a kid and remember riding behind their steam locomotive #60 to Lambertville and listening as the #60 did a whistle salute back and forth to the New Hope & Ivyland’s #40 on the other side of the river, what a great sound.

They currently have their steam engine running, but the tourist railroad is shut down for the season to reopen in March I believe?

Sorry to side track the topic - here’s hoping Northlandz can salvage the operation. Having visited Minatur Wunderland in Germany several times, I can see the potential tourist attraction a large and great layout can have. 

Miniatur Wunderland is on my bucket list. I’ve been to Germany a few times since entering this hobby. Either too far away on business, or too tied up with family. If we’re discussing model trains, we can’t go off track. 

Glad to hear of new owners. My wife and I stopped there on the way home from a York meet, probably 15 years ago (maybe more?) and, though its shear size is impressive--we were there for at least three hours--it was looking a little shabby then: only a few trains running, mostly short, missing pieces on bridges, etc., though I recall being particularly impressed by the Firth of Forth Bridge (a Scottish railroad bridge). And we both enjoyed the short organ concert in the middle of journeying through the layout. My recollection was that it was expensive, too. Hopefully, it will be rejuvenated as it would be a shame to see it go.

Dan Padova posted:

I too visited Northlandz, maybe six or seven years ago.  As GRJ and RT pointed out, it was disappointing.  Hardly any trains running and those that were making the rounds were two and three car freights with a single F3 or Geep at the head end.  

The original builder probably had grand plans, but it appeared, to me, that he may have taken on too large a task and got bogged down in building endless mountains and wood trestles.  

IMO, HO is hard to keep running in an exhibit layout. Heck, I had problems running it in a home layout. The benchwork needs to be perfect and overbuilt to avoid warping. The track needs to be very carefully laid. Otherwise, the trains derail or stop running. I believe DCC in HO may have helped things a little, but still harder to do than using O. Also, many of the O gauge displays I see are using tubular track. That helps because the rail height is taller, making it more robust for trains to run on. The train in the display in Philly Penn station would do mechanical station stops. It occurred to me that this let the motors cool down. That layout ran non-stop over the holidays. KISS is the motto for display layouts, unless you have a large crew and excellent engineers.

George

I first went there in the 90’s, and I as amazed by it. By the early 00’s, it was already looking worn. I remember trash on the layout, and holes where people had apparently poked their fingers through it. I have to figure maintaining it is a massive undertaking. A year or so ago I saw it mentioned on line somewhere, and I was surprised to hear it was still open.

 Hopefully, they can make it right again, as I would love another quality place to visit.

Chris R.

Hammonton, NJ

Doing our best to bring it back. Next step is to install lights in buildings as well as add animations throughout. Since the new ownership the scenes needed to be repaired and cleaned. At least 15 years of dust on those mountains. Thanks for the supportive comments.

- Joe

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters, METCA,

Independent Hi-Railers Eastern Division,

Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders,

Raritan River Chapter of the NRHS,

Black River Railroad Historical Trust

 http://raritanriver-rr.com/

http://www.blackriverrailroad.com/

 

 

"You're too young to remember the Raritan River!" -Told to me by a man at a train show.

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