Two locomotives of the Whiskey River Railway, an attraction at Little Amerricka in Marshall, Wisconsin

Minimum-gauge railways have a gauge of most commonly 15 in (381 mm),[1] 400 mm (15+34 in), 16 in (406 mm), 18 in (457 mm), 19 in (483 mm), 500 mm (19+34 in) or 20 in (508 mm). The notion of minimum-gauge railways was originally developed by estate railways[1] and the French company of Decauville for light railways, trench railways, mining, and farming applications.[2]


The term was originally conceived by Sir Arthur Percival Heywood, who used it in 1874 to describe the principle behind his Duffield Bank Railway, specifically its 15 in (381 mm) gauge, distinguishing it from a "narrow gauge" railway. Having previously built a small railway of 9 in (229 mm) gauge, he settled on 15 in (381 mm) as the minimum that he felt was practical.[1] The original text of Heywood's article defining minimum gauge railways is available online.[3]

In general, minimum-gauge railways maximize their loading gauge, where the dimension of the equipment is made as large as possible with respect to the track gauge while still providing enough stability to keep it from tipping over. Standard gauge railways have vehicles that are approximately twice, and in some cases nearly three times, the track gauge in width, but with minimum gauge railways this can be as much as four times the width of the track as in some of the Sugar Cane Railways of Australia. Minimum-gauge railways allowed for ease of mobility on battlefields, mines, and other restricted environments.

A number of 18 in (457 mm) gauge railways were built in Britain to serve ammunition depots and other military facilities, particularly during the First World War.

In South Australia the Semaphore to Fort Glanville Conservation Park includes a steam engine service that runs on an 18 in (457 mm) track.

In France, Decauville produced a range of portable track railways running on 400 mm (15+34 in) and 500 mm (19+34 in) tracks, most commonly in restricted environments such as underground mine railways, parks and farms.[2]

During World War II, it was proposed to expedite the Yunnan–Burma Railway using 400 mm (15+34 in) gauge, since such a small gauge can have the tightest of curves in difficult terrain.[4]

Distinction between ridable miniature and minimum-gauge railway

This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

The major distinction between a miniature railway (US: 'riding railroad' or 'grand scale railroad') and a minimum-gauge railway is that miniature lines use models of full-sized prototypes. There are miniature railways that run on gauges as wide as 2 ft (610 mm), for example the Wicksteed Park Railway. There are also rideable miniature railways running on extremely narrow tracks as small as 10+14 in (260 mm) gauge, for example the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway. Around the world there are also several rideable miniature railways open to the public using even narrower gauges, such as 7+14 in (184 mm) and 7+12 in (190.5 mm).

Generally minimum-gauge railways have a working function as estate railways, or industrial railways, or providers of public transport links; although most have a distinct function in relation to tourism, and depend upon tourism for the revenue to support their working function.


Name Gauge Country Location Notes
Decauville 400 mm (15+34 in) France France Discontinued by Decauville
Rufisque tramway 400 mm (15+34 in) France France
See Fifteen-inch gauge railway 15 in (381 mm)
The Valley Railway Adventure (Formerly the Evesham Vale Light Railway)) 15 in (381 mm) United Kingdom UK Evesham Country Park, Worcestershire
Whistlestop Valley (Formerly Kirklees Light Railway) 15 in (381 mm) United Kingdom UK Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Bure Valley Railway 15 in (381 mm) United Kingdom UK Aylsham to Wroxham, Norfolk
Candy Cane Express 16 in (406 mm) Canada Canada Santa's Village Family Entertainment Park, Bracebridge, Ontario Replica diesel locomotive with passenger cars, working as amusement park ride
Alamogordo/Alameda Park Narrow Gauge Railway 16 in (406 mm) United States US The Toy Train Depot, Alamogordo, New Mexico
Balboa Park Miniature Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Balboa Park (San Diego), San Diego, California [5][6]
Cedar Rock Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Leander, Texas [7]
Chippewa Valley Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Carson Park (Eau Claire, Wisconsin), Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Lakeland Amusement Park 16 in (406 mm) United States US Lakeland, Tennessee Defunct
Little Florida Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Sanford, Florida Closed[8]
Michigan AuSable Valley Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Fairview, Michigan Defunct as of November, 2017[9]
Old Smokey Train 16 in (406 mm) United States US Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pennsylvania [10]
Pinconning and Blind River Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Fairview, Michigan (1953–1973) [11]
Pioneer Train 16 in (406 mm) United States US Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pennsylvania [12]
Salt Mine Express 16 in (406 mm) United States US Strataca Salt Mine Adventure, Hutchinson, Kansas, 650 feet underground [13]
Schnepf Farms 16 in (406 mm) United States US Schnepf Frams, Queen Creek. Arizona [14]
Smokey Joe Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Eastern Shore Threshermen & Collectors Association, Federalsburg, Maryland [15]
Travel Town Railroad 16 in (406 mm) United States US Travel Town Museum, Los Angeles, California
Whiskey River Railway 16 in (406 mm) United States US Little Amerricka, Marshall, Wisconsin
Island Park Railway 16+12 in (419 mm) Canada Canada Woodstock, New Brunswick [16]
National Railway Museum 18 in (457 mm) Australia Australia Port Adelaide, South Australia [17]
Semaphore & Fort Glanville Tourist Railway 18 in (457 mm) Australia Australia Semaphore, South Australia Operated by the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide
Aotea Railway 18 in (457 mm) New Zealand New Zealand Aotea Lagoon, Porirua
Bicton Woodland Railway 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK United Kingdom
Heath Park Tramway 455 mm (17+1516 in)
18 in (457 mm)
United Kingdom UK Cardiff [18]
Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch railway 15 in (381 mm) United Kingdom UK Kent, United kingdom
Royal Arsenal Railway 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK
Sand Hutton Light Railway 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK
Steeple Grange Light Railway 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK
Sundown Adventure Land 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK Retford, Nottinghamshire [citation needed]
Terrific Train 18 in (457 mm) United Kingdom UK New Metroland, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad 18 in (457 mm) United States US Oak Meadows Park and Vasona Park, Los Gatos, California [19]
Collegeville and Southern Railway 18 in (457 mm) United States US [20]
Fidalgo City and Anacortes Railway 18 in (457 mm) United States US
Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad[21][22][23] 18 in (457 mm) United States US [24]
Venice Miniature Railway 18 in (457 mm) United States US Venice Beach, California 1943–1968[25]
Griffith Park & Southern Railroad 18+12 in (470 mm) United States US Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California
Swanton Pacific Railroad 19 in (483 mm) United States US Swanton Pacific Ranch, Swanton, California
Southern Fuegian Railway 500 mm (19+34 in) Argentina Argentina
Geriatriezentrum am Wienerwald Feldbahn 500 mm (19+34 in) Austria Austria
Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn 500 mm (19+34 in) France France
Jardin d'Acclimatation railway 500 mm (19+34 in) France France
Petit train d'Artouste 500 mm (19+34 in) France France
Ledesma Mill Railway 20 in (508 mm) Argentina Argentina Province of Jujuy Partially 20 in[26]
Stanley Park Miniature Railway 20 in (508 mm) Canada Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
North Bay Railway 20 in (508 mm) United Kingdom UK Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Shipley Glen Tramway 20 in (508 mm) United Kingdom UK
Woburn Safari Park 20 in (508 mm) United Kingdom UK
Coronado Railroad 20 in (508 mm) United States US Chase Creek
Huff Puff and Whistle Railroad 20 in (508 mm) United States US Story Land, Glen, New Hampshire
Krasnoyarsk Child Railway 20 in (508 mm) Russia Russia Central Park, Krasnoyarsk[27][28]
Pleasure Beach Express 21 in (533 mm) United Kingdom UK Blackpool, Lancashire
Little Puffer Miniature Steam Train 1 ft 10 in (559 mm) United States US San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco, California [29]
Orient Express 1 ft 10+34 in (578 mm) United States US Lakeside Amusement Park, Denver, Colorado [30][31]

Large amusement railways

Main articles: 2 ft and 600 mm gauge railways, 2 ft and 600 mm gauge railways in the United Kingdom, 2 ft gauge railroads in the United States, 2 ft 6 in gauge railways, 3 ft gauge railways, and Rail transport in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Name Gauge Country Location Notes
Park Railway Maltanka 600 mm (1 ft 11+58 in) Poland Poland Poznań Śródka Roundabout - New Zoo, 2.4 miles (3.9 km), 4 stops
Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Wenecja 600 mm (1 ft 11+58 in) Poland Poland Wenecja Wenecja - Biskupin, ~8 miles (13 km), 5 stops
Assiniboine Park R.R. 2 ft (610 mm) Canada Canada Winnipeg, Manitoba [32]
Centreville Train 2 ft (610 mm) Canada Canada Centreville Amusement Park, Toronto, Canada One replica steam locomotive with tender, five passenger cars
Greater Vancouver Zoo Railway 2 ft (610 mm) Canada Canada Greater Vancouver Zoo, Aldergrove, British Columbia Has two stations, stops only at one station
Riverview Park Railway 2 ft (610 mm) Canada Canada Riverview Park & Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario [33]
Wildlife Express 2 ft (610 mm) Canada Canada BC Wildlife Park, Kamloops, British Columbia
Park Railway[broken anchor] 2 ft (610 mm) United Kingdom UK Alton Towers Park Defunct[34] 1953–1996
Wicksteed Park Railway 2 ft (610 mm) United Kingdom UK Wicksteed Park, Kettering, Northamptonshire
Bayou Le Zoo Choo Choo 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Alexandria Zoological Park, Alexandria, Louisiana [35]
Casey Jr. Circus Train 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Disneyland, Anaheim, California
C.P. Huntington No. 3 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Pullen Park, Raleigh, North Carolina [36]
Emerson Zooline Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri
Forest Park Miniature Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Fort Worth, Texas [37]
Gatorland Express 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Gatorland, Orlando, Florida
Grand Sierra Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, California
Hermann Park Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Hermann Park, Houston, Texas Two miles (3.2 km) of track, three stops
Kennedy Express 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Kennedy Park (Hayward, California), Hayward, California
Oregon Pacific Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Oaks Amusement Park, Portland, Oregon [38]
San Antonio Zoo Eagle 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas [39]
Tauber Family Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak, Michigan Donated by The Detroit News about 1931 and also supported by Chrysler Motors, zoo patrons and fares[40]
Turtle Back Junction 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange, New Jersey Two C.P. Huntington Trains[41]
Van Saun Park Railroad 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Paramus, New Jersey Three Allan Herschell S-24 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge Iron Horse trains
Zoo Train 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara, California
Zoofari Express 2 ft (610 mm) United States US Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina
BuJu Line 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Burke Junction, Cameron Park, California [42]
Fort Wilderness Railroad 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Walt Disney World, Bay Lake, Florida Defunct
Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Disneyland, Anaheim, California Defunct
Omaha Zoo Railroad 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska
Viewliner Train of Tomorrow 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Disneyland, Anaheim, California Defunct
Washington Park & Zoo Railway 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) United States US Washington Park (Portland, Oregon), Portland, Oregon
Disneyland Railroad (Paris) 3 ft (914 mm) France France Disneyland Park (Paris), Paris
Disneyland Railroad 3 ft (914 mm) United States US Disneyland, Anaheim, California The two original locomotives are 5:8-scale models of a full-size standard gauge locomotive.[43][44]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Heywood, A.P. (1974) [1881, Derby: Bemrose]. Minimum Gauge Railways. Turntable Enterprises. ISBN 0-902844-26-1.
  2. ^ a b Douglas J. Puffert (2009). Tracks across continents, paths through history: the economic dynamics of standardization in railway gauge. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-226-68509-0.
  3. ^ Heywood - Minimum Gauge Railways
  4. ^ "TOY RAILWAY". The Northern Standard. Darwin, NT: National Library of Australia. 8 December 1939. p. 15. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Southeastern Railway Museum". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Balboa Park Miniature Railroad - Balboa Park". Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Cedar Rock Railroad". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Littl Florida Railroad & Animal Carousel". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Home". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Crown Locomotive Roster (15"-24" Gauge)". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Pinconning & Blind River Railroad".
  12. ^ "Railway Preservation News • View topic - Rough and Tumble Engineers . Home Built Shay Railroad Video". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Home". 14 May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  14. ^ Sayre, Dave. "Schnepf Farms Railroad". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Eastern Shore Threshermen & Collectors Assoc., Inc". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  16. ^ "The Miniature Railway". CEC: Closed Canadian Parks. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  17. ^ "National Railway Museum - Port Adelaide". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  18. ^ "Cardiff Model Engineering Society". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and W.E. "Bill" Mason Carousel — Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and W.E. "Bill" Mason Carousel". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  20. ^ "C&S RY : The Collegeville and Southern Railway". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  21. ^ Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad
  22. ^ We Visit the Meadows & Lake Kathleen Railroad.
  23. ^ YouTube video: Meadows & Lake Kathleen Railroad.
  24. ^ "This is the official page for the Meadows & Lake Kathleen Railroad". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Media / Gallery". 23 August 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  26. ^ Ledesma
  27. ^ Railways in Russia
  28. ^ in Russian
  29. ^ Little Puffer
  30. ^ Reporter-Herald A trip into history on the Lakeside Amusement Park train
  31. ^ Orient Express
  32. ^ "Spring, Summer, Fall Activities | Assiniboine Park Conservancy".
  33. ^ "Riverview Park Features and Attractions". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  34. ^ "Alton Towers Memories - Park Railway".
  35. ^ "Amenities - Alexandria Zoo". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Pullen Park - Raleigh". 2 May 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 'C.P. Huntington C.P. #3' is the miniature train that operates at Pullen Park.
  37. ^ "Forest Park Miniature Railroad". Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  38. ^ Robert D. West (2 May 2014). "Farewell is not Forever - Part 4: Oaks Amusement Park". Retrieved 30 July 2014. This train replaced a Miniature Train & Railroad Company G-16 that was installed in 1956. The G-16 ran on 16" gauge track, and resembled a diesel locomotive, painted in the colors of the Union Pacific Railroad. The track is dual-gauge: 16" for the former train and 24" for the current one. The train operates on a 2,600 foot oval-shaped loop that encircles the picnic areas.
  39. ^ "San Antonio Zoo Eagle". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Tauber Family Railroad - Detroit Zoo". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  41. ^ "Essex County Turtle Back Zoo". Turtle Back Zoo. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  42. ^ "BuJu Line – official website". Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  43. ^ Broggie 2014, p. 112.
  44. ^ Broggie 2014, p. 220.