I posted this on another thread, but had been meaning to post it by itself, because I think it is worthy to stand alone as a topic of some interest. The question is the origin of the term "hi-rail". Like most people I have always thought that the term "hi-rail" came from the unprototypical height of tinplate track. Then last year I unearthed and thumbed through a copy of 'The Model Railroad Book" by Warren F. Morgan. This was published in 1953.
In the book ( page 19), Morgan talks about the origin of the term "hi-rail". Here is the gist:
In the late 1930s, while building one of the first "hi-rail" layouts (although the term was not then in use), his two sons decided they needed a password for their family train club. Pop suggested "Hi, Rails!" because railroad buffs in the Navy were called "rails" (Morgan was a Commander in the US Navy). In 1940 this layout was featured in Model Builder. Dick Robbins of Polk Model Craft Hobbies in NYC liked the article and was interested in promoting the use of "tinplate" on realistic model railroads and sold Charlie Penn, editor of Model Craftsman, on the idea of a series of articles on mixing scale and tinplate. They needed a name for this new hybrid and Commander Morgan then suggested "the breezy salutation Hi, Rail! "( his words) and the term caught on (and became "hi-rail"). Make of this what you will, but since the story of the origin was published in 1953 and Warren Morgan was a respected writer on the hobby, it has a certain plausibility.