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The Lionel 1949 Showroom Layout is widely known and respected and very popular for its realistic setting to show off Lionel trains of the 1950s.

Another less famous layout of that time were the PAL Police Athletic League layouts in Edgerton Community Center in Rochester, NY.  These four layouts, representing the four seasons with realist scenery were built, starting in 1948 by volunteers and assisted by Lionel Train Co.  The layout was made famous by coverage initially in the Lionel/Bantam paper back book "Model Railroading" published in the 1950s.  This is one of the best Lionel written books for how to make a Lionel layout and was studied and drooled over by many of us:  me included.  I have a falling apart 50 cent paperback 3rd edition copy although I also have a later fifth edition copy.  The Lionel "Model Railroading" had very good coverage of the four PAL layouts, one layout for each season set in Rochester:  Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.  The layouts are in separate rooms and have some tracks that connect all four layouts.  All four featured Lionel trains with realistic scenery and very good artistic paintings on the walls to showcase each layout.  The Summer layout still has a turntable and round house and large freighter.  The Fall layout is missing the drive-inn theater with the B & W TV and has been revised.  The Winter layout is the one left more like the original and has new K-line track.  The Spring layout has under gone the most change,with a new track plan with a huge viaduct crossing a valley and new GarGraves track.

For a quick 3:43 minute video of the 2010 Layout click below


Here is a link to another OGR Forum prior post on PAL

The updated layouts still have beautiful mountains, water, lots of bridges and of course those great wall paintings.

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 008

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 009

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 006

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 007

Fall Layout

Notice the control panel, very similar to those on my layout!  Also notice the great painted backgrounds on these three photos and the cover of the OGR magazine.

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 010

Fall Layout

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 012

Summer Layout

PAL #2 group 2019-05-22 007

The Lionel 1949 Showroom layout was on display from 1949 and lasted about 10 years and was taken down and destroyed.  There are not many movies of the layout but quite a few still photos.  The 1949 layout was reproduced in the 1970s at a Jackson, MS mall and displayed over several months, and there is a good video, "Lionel Showroom Layout", on this layout which was also dis-mantled.  There also are magazine articles on the layout.

The great thing about the PAL layouts is they still exist and you can go and see them.  They have been updated some and other makes of trains are sometimes run.  There are at least three detailed articles in train magazines:

OGR Run 107 in Oct 1989 by Fred Dole -This is the most complete and has great color pictures and four track plan diagrams

PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 011

The late Fred Dole also made an excellent OGR video on PAL and lets you met Fred, see link below:   click on video to make Full Screen or click # on icon bottom right

If you watch any of the listed videos you should watch this one.  It must have been made by Fred and OGR as part of making the visit to write the article in OGR run 107, Oct 1989 shown above.  This is a 15 min video.


The Home page of the PAL Edgeron Model Railroad Club where the above video was found

CTT June 1991 focuses on PALs history and the Police Athletic League and has mostly original black and white photos of the layout when recently built and has kids watching it

CTT August 1991 is a complete article with color layout pictures and has four track plan diagrams

Below are several Youtube links to watch the PAL layouts in action and worth your viewing.

PAL 60th Anniversary and story link 3:43 min video of 2010 layout  


Summer Layout youtube link   Turntable and RH in distance

Autumn Layout youtube link;index=12&t=0s

Spring Layout youtube link

Winter Layout youtube link

So there you have it, a great book Lionel's "Model Railroading" on the PAL layouts, three magazine detailed articles on PAL and the four layouts, and a great video on youtube.  Best of all you can plan a trip to Rochester, NY and go see and tour the four seasonal PAL layouts in person.  I hope I can arrange a trip soon.


Revised 9-20-2022


Images (8)
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 008
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 009
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 006
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 007
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 010
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 012
  • PAL #2 group 2019-05-22 007
  • PAL Magazine 5-22-2019 2019-05-22 011
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Charlie; thanks for posting this info and providing me a virtual kick in the pants!

Visiting the Edgerton layouts has been on my bucket list since I re-entered the hobby in 1989.  Unfortunately I’ve not had any opportunity to be in the Rochester area over the last 30 years.  With retirement occurring May 31; maybe I can finally find the time during one of our PA family visits to make the trip up to Rochester.


Last edited by juniata guy

Ted S

Thanks for the question on room size.  Fortunately I have both CTT and one OGR magazines issues and it took two to find some answers.

I do not have the size of the PAL Building BUT I have the room plot picture which is probably not to scale and shown below.  It is from CTT Aug 1991 and the size of each layout from OGR Oct 1989, run 107.

Better PAL Pict OGR & CTT 5-24-2019 2019-05-24 046

Summer - 24ft x 16ft,             Spring  - 26ft x 8ft,        

Fall - 27ft x 8ft,                         Winter - 22ft x 8ft

The room sizes are larger than the layouts and there are open areas for people to view the layouts in each room.  But you can get the idea of how big the rooms are.



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  • Better PAL Pict OGR & CTT 5-24-2019 2019-05-24 046
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I have wondered if the turntable on the PAL layout Summer layout was hooked up and operable.  I know the turntable on the famous Lionel 1949 Showroom layout and the 1993 version in Jackson, MS were not hooked up or workable.

I watched the PAL 60th Anniversary and story link 3:43 min video of 2010 layout linked below


The following pictures were taken off my laptop screen from the above.

The first shows the almost never seen, in pictures or videos, the PAL turntable and part of the control panel, which a classic track diagram with control switches on it.  Do not know why the TT and Round House on the PAL Summer layout are usually missing in action in the CTT, OGR and PAL pictures and videos.  But maybe I am just too much interested in TT and RHs, my favorites areas of 50s era layouts.

PAL from laptop 5-25-2019 2019-05-25 001

The second picture shows the upper left area of the control panel with where the turntable and round house controls are.  It shows a large, dark circular knob of the turntable and round house selector switch and a turntable and roundhouse track power switch to the right of it.  I conclude that at least the 2010 version of the PAL layout had a operating turntable and round house.

PAL from laptop 5-25-2019 2019-05-25 002           



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  • PAL from laptop 5-25-2019 2019-05-25 001
  • PAL from laptop 5-25-2019 2019-05-25 002
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Allan & others

I am with you, as a kid I too had a copy of the 1950s “Model Railroading” Bantam Book I used to drool over and learned about the PAL layouts.  It is long gone but I now have a 3rd and 5th editions.

I also loved the 1949 Lionel Showroom layout on the back of a Lionel train catalog and visited the 1970s rebuilt version in Jackson MS.  These are some of the better historic layouts of old that inspired many of us years ago.  I treasure the old issues of CTT and OGR train magazines that have great articles on both.


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Let us hear from you if you have a favorite Season of the four seasons layouts of the PAL layouts.

My favorite layout is the Summer layout for several reasons.

One is it is an L shape which I like for the interesting ways the train can be run.

Two is the turntable as I love TTs.

Third, is the multi levels with two levels plus a underneath trolley line, viewed through a glass window on the original layout, but it has been terminates in the in the modern layout Fall scene.

Fourth, I like the bridges added to the modern layout.

Fifth, is the railroad yard.

Sixth is the loops on the track plan with interconnections between loops.

And seventh is the harbor scene with ships in the modern layout.

I would be very happy to have the Summer layout as my home layout.

I know it is hard to get a much real information from the limited details I provided above and I had the advantage of having OGR  number 107 issue with Fred Doles great PAL article.


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

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