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backyardRR 07-15-2020 12:45 PM

Garden Railways Magazine Shutting Down
By now many of you already know this from the other Garden Trains site or have received this email from Kalmbach. It's sad but I guess we saw it coming.

Dear Subscriber,

For more than 35 years, Garden Railways has been the leading magazine devoted to the hobby of outdoor model railroading. While we remain committed to serving garden railroaders, we regret to announce that we are discontinuing publication of Garden Railways magazine. Fall 2020 will be the final issue. However, the Garden Railways brand will live on in the pages of Model Railroader and online, where our dedicated audience of garden railroaders will continue to find seasonal news, tips and advice from the world’s greatest model railroading experts.

As a subscriber to Garden Railways, you may have one or more issues of your subscription remaining. You will receive Model Railroader magazine for the remainder of your subscription, starting with the November issue. If you’re already a Model Railroader magazine subscriber, your current Model Railroader subscription will be extended for as many issues remaining on your Garden Railways subscription.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact customer support at [email protected], or by phone at 877-246-4898. Outside the U.S. and Canada, call 903-636-1125.

We thank all our subscribers for their support and loyalty over the years, and we look forward to continuing to serve you through the pages of Model Railroader.

The Garden Railways and Model Railroader Teams

backyardRR 07-15-2020 12:58 PM

Let me just add that since I got into the hobby in 2013 after retiring I could see that the hobby, just like us old guys, was fading away. I will say this, thank God for my backyard railway during this time of isolation and lock down. I would have gone out of my tiny little mind by now if I didn't have my trains snaking through my flowers and "hills". While I have enough engines right now and keep them lubricated and clean, I am concerned what will happen in later years if I have to replace track. The Aristo track and Piko turnouts are holding up well (Armor All?). Yes, Piko, LGB and Bachmann still make track. But for how long? Bachmann G scale, with a few exceptions, is in limbo. Looks like mostly NOS. When it's gone who knows? :(:(:(:(

bmwr71 07-17-2020 06:30 AM

I can't help but wonder what went on here? Did they buy the magazine with plans to kill it? They sure took over and degraded it. As i have mentioned elsewhere, it seemed like those failing restaurant shows where the restaurant was doing poorly over time so instead of improving to keep and/or get in new customers, they started cutting corners and losing interest and such and the business just spiraled down.

I know that model railroading isn't as big as it used to be as trains are not high tech to the public anymore and computers and cell phones and sci fi are. Also some claim that garden railroading is for old folks, and perhaps that is who most enjoys it, but I can't see why people of all ages that enjoy gardening and the outdoors wouldn't enjoy garden railroading. Maybe we garden railroad people are just "special".

And as i have said before, hope someone out there decides to come out with a new great garden railroading magazine. I might just get a subscription to a narrow gauge magazine and drool over ideas from it. And have Pintrest to wade through every day with loads of idea pictures and no cost other than seeing advertisements..

hope someone puts a garden railroad on my grave when I finally give up

East Broad Top 07-18-2020 01:19 AM

Doug, Kalmbach bought GR many years ago, keeping Marc on as editor, so--no--they didn't buy it to kill it. They carried it through what was really the golden age of the hobby in the late 1990s - early 2000s. Print media in general have had a really hard go of things in the digital age, though, and that started gnawing at the magazine's profitability quite some time ago. The big mail-order shops stopped taking out 4-6 page ads, instead just taking out 1-page ads pointing to their web sites. That's a HUGE chunk of revenue evaporated virtually overnight.

What happens, though, is you get a downward spiral. Revenue goes down, costs go up, so you have to cut page count. When you cut page count, you cut content, you lose readers, ad rates fall, revenue falls further, pages must be cut further. Again, this is happening across the industry, not just at GR. Kalmbach did a serious belt-tightening a few years ago when they let Marc go and brought all production in house. The in-house staff wore multiple hats and worked on multiple magazines, dividing their attention. When that happens, quality suffers. When quality suffers, you lose more readers. It was only a matter of time.

Having said that, this came as a surprise to all of us who worked on the magazine. Hal (the editor) was making long-term content plans. I had just finished my next column and got my "due dates" for the next year's worth of magazines. We were expecting to continue going forward. I don't think any of us had delusions things weren't hanging on by a thread, but we didn't know the thread was about to be so abruptly cut.

It will be interesting to see what comes next. Nature abhors a vacuum.



Greg Elmassian 07-18-2020 07:20 PM

Poorly managed... cutting the size of the mag and cutting the quality at the same time....

Too bad they did not go straight digital, maybe they could have made it make sense financially then....

I was and am of the opinion that if they had kept the same high standards of articles, and honest reviews, and increased the price to whatever made it profitable that might have been an alternative... I would have stayed a subscriber.

Don't know how many other people have the same opinion, but I would have paid double the price.....

But, it is gone, and I have very little confidence of seeing G scale in MR any more than seeing more Z scale...


krs 07-28-2020 11:16 PM

Every time I receive another copy of my subscription to one of the several German Garden Railway magazines, I try to rationalize why just one Garden Railways in the US (and probably read in many English speaking countries) couldn't make it.

The current issue of one of the German magazines I just received is issue 4 in 2020, it's published six times a year, cover price is 5.90 Euros which is about $US 7.00, the 5.90 includes 7% VAT. Subscription of 6 issues is 30.00 Euros.

The magazine is high quality glossy paper, 70 pages of which just 7 pages are ads, the rest are articles related to Garden Railroading, product reviews, new items, etc. etc.

Ruger B 08-01-2020 11:38 AM

Wow - I just received my first copy of Steam in the Garden. Must admit there's something nice about looking at a physical magazine. Even the ads had me intrigued at what they may have to offer. My mind naturally tunes out side ads, top ads, etc while on the internet or a forum. However, magazines just seem to have a way of getting me interested in products.

I hope THEY don't go out of business!

Perhaps a budding editor could purchase Garden Railways...and make margin? $$

krs 08-01-2020 01:49 PM

Would be nice if Kalmbach came out with a DVD-ROM of Garden Railways covering the last five years.

Greg Elmassian 08-01-2020 08:45 PM

Oh, you can be sure they will!

Dave Meashey 08-04-2020 10:04 AM


Got my final issue of Garden Railways in yesterday's mail. Nothing proclaimed that is was the last issue, and the subscription expiration on the label stated Winter 2021. I suppose that I will get Model Railroader with a watered-down large scale section until 01/2021.

Hate to see it go, but this does not come as a surprise. You get rid of the "soul" of the magazine (Mark) and the dung will hit the fan.

Regards, David Meashey

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