Matson’s Landing in L-Gauge – A Layout From Start to Finish

For several years I’ve wanted to write a set of articles covering the design and building of a LEGO® train layout from start of finish. With the new year and the launch of Brick Model Railroader, I have the opportunity to do so. This post is the kick-off to a series of articles that I’ll write as I design and build a new layout: Matson’s Landing.

The original Matson’s Landing is an HO scale layout designed by modeler Jack Matson. I discovered the layout years ago while scanning through “Micro/Small Layouts” at the blog. While many model railroading publications feature the grand basement-filling layouts of master modelers, focuses on small track plans that fit into a minimum amount of space. The designs on this site perfectly capture what S scale modeler and author Trevor Marshall defines as “Achievable Layouts”. In other words, layouts that are small enough to be worked on in a reasonable amount of time, but large enough to be entertaining. Given our large track scale, Achievable Layouts are perfect for the L-gauge builder.

As can be seen in the original track plan, the Matson’s Landing layout offers lots of opportunities for a LEGO builder. The display contains two scenes, divided down the center of the plan. One side showcases a waterfront logging camp, where logs are off-loaded into the river/lake to be floated to a mill, while the other side of the display features a wooded landing area where logs are pulled out of the forest. While not a lot of space is allowed for train cars, there is plenty of room for switching a few loads of logs with a small steam or diesel locomotive. The setting of Matson’s Landing could also allow for some steep grades with lots of brick-built scenery.

My initial plan is to scale up the HO design to fit L-gauge track size and geometry. For the article series here on Brick Model Railroader, I hope to cover the following topics:

  • Benchwork – The base of the display
  • Layout Design – How the track geometry is planned
  • Landscaping – Everything visible above the base, covering brick-built hills and valleys
  • Locomotive Design – Planning, testing and building of a small steam-driven logging locomotive
  • Car Design – Planning, testing and building of log cars, and possibly others
  • Scenery – Covering trees, water, shrubs and other natural features
  • Building Design – The logging camp area features a couple of small buildings that are perfect for the LEGO medium
  • Operations – How the layout is run, and various options for running it differently

During the process of building this layout, I encourage readers to offer suggestions as we go, making it a community project. I look forward to everyone’s feedback, and welcome the opportunity to learn from other builders.

7 thoughts on “Matson’s Landing in L-Gauge – A Layout From Start to Finish”

  1. I have to agree with Patrick, this looks very promising! I’ve been thinking about a layout on the basis of one of those trackplans on forever, at least since I had my own room in the student dormitory I was living in, which is over 10 years ago. I just never had the courage to take the first step… I’m excited to see this layout come to fruition!

  2. I love the Model Railroader Project Layout articles every year. This series should be very interesting an informative to all interested in building any LEGO Train layout. The cool thing I see about the chosen track plan is it could be done in a modular way to allow additional sections like tail tracks, staging yards or more layout modulars to be connected to expand operations both at home and if taken to shows. I would also suggest making the bench work separable along the centerline. Allowing to have the layout set up as shown or to also separate the two scenes and add additional sections in between for more I handed ops or just so it can be set up flat against a wall. Check out Model Railroader’s Milwaukee Road Beer Line project layout for an example. I look forward to reading future articles!


    1. I had actually considered building the Milwaukee Beer Line at one point to show others how LEGO trains could be used for operations. I like the idea of building the benchwork in sections. I’m going to keep that suggestion in mind. Thanks!

Leave a Reply