Middle-Earth, the final frontier?

Or, on fantasy railroading & the last required blog post of the year. No, not like this, though that locomotive has a scratchbuilding appeal all its own, despite looking somewhat like the love-child of Smaug and any one of the numerous American 4-8-2s. In fact, that is precisely the point I want to make regarding fantasy railroad design; don’t mix and match different, readily recognizable prototypical elements that are clearly far above the technological level of your world in terms of both refinement and sophistication! The first locomotives, which happened in a level of technological development roughly corresponding to most fantasy worlds, considering that at least the forces of evil regularly push the plausible technological limit to the 18th century or so, looked like this. In fact, though models of these types of locomotives are not commercially available, models of some later ones embodying a similar aesthetic are, or have been in the past: see here, here, here, and here. As a general rule, you should not build for your fantasy world anything which was constructed in the real world after 1860 or so. However, the vast majority of people do not do this, but instead just plunk down any train they can get for cheap.

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