Dean Freytag is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Master Mechanic
Just recieved this in an E-mail. I've known Dean for years. He will be sorely missed.

"Hello again RR Friends,

Here are two news items --- 1. The info about Dean Freytag's services and 2. A very fitting eulogy by RR Friend Bill Linson for Dean.

1. Calling hours will be in Ashland at Heyl Funeral Home on Thursday (Dec. 30th.) from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Funeral services will be at 11:00 Friday (Dec. 31st.) at the funeral home with calling one hour prior.
2. Scroll down the page below the list of names for Bill Linson's eulogy for Dean. Thank you Bill --- your words are a very nice honor for our friend Dean

Flags are flying at half staff today over model railroads throughout Ohio and beyond, mourning the passing of model railroad legend Dean Freytag.

Freytag, 86, passed away Christmas night at the assisted living facility in Ashland, OH, where he had resided for the past 11 months. He leaves a sister Carol, a brother-in-law Jim, and a niece and nephew. He was preceded in death by wife Ann Elizabeth (Davies) in 1999.

Dean had four loves in his life. In no particular order, they were Ann, railroading, steel mills, and Ashland University. It is to the latter he left most of his estate, being honored with the grandstands in their new football stadium being named in his and Ann's honor. He was a lifetime member of the National Model Railroad Association, a Master Model Railroader, and the contest director for that organization for a number of years. Interestingly, he never attended Ashland University, never worked on a railroad, refused to ride on the trains calling them rough-riding and dusty, and never ever worked in a steel mill.

But he probably knew more about the steel-making processes than many who did work in the industry. He was a prolific modeler of all things about railroading, but especially steel mills. Indeed, it was steel that dominated the 13' x 38' main room of his HO model railroad. His models of the various components of the steel mills that dominated the landscape in what he called the "Ruhr Valley of the United States" -- that section of the country between Cleveland and Pittsburgh -- are the prototypes for the the Walthers series of steel-making structures used by modelers throughout the world.

Freytag was an author of at least two books used extensively in modeling, "The Cyclopedia of Industrial Modeling" and "The History, Making & Modeling of Steel", and his "how-to" articles appeared in the modeling press frequently over the past 50 years. He was published in Model Railroader, the leading model railroading magazine, more than 50 times. His manuscripts were "banged out" -- literally -- in all caps on a manual typewriter, as were his letters, notes and even post cards.

Dean was a proponent of working with styrene -- he was featured in an instructional video about styrene -- and Plastruct shapes, and virtually everything he built was from scratch and/or kit bashed. He seldom, if ever, felt the structural "iron work" of bridge and industry models were "heavy" enough and nearly always "beefed them up" with his beloved Plastruct components. His modeling transcended craftsmanship into art. His discerning eye saw a steel mill ladle in the discarded cap from a whiskey bottle, the conveyor belt rollers in the used throw-away razor blade guards, and literally dozens of other such applications. Not always the most patient of teachers, he nevertheless was a mentor to dozens -- maybe even hundreds -- of modelers, and to listen to and learn from Dean was to learn from a master.

Not to think he was one or two dimensional, Dean was a avid reader of war novels -- particularly World War II in which he served -- and deeply interested in Civil War history, having visited the battlefields on numerous occasions. He wore out two exercycles, putting thousands of miles on each of them as he watched the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He always had cats that were given railroad names, i.e., "Smokey", "Cinders",and Chessie".

He spent a lot of time on the telephone with modeling friends all over the country discussing a myriad of topics, but usually related to railroading. It was Dean Freytag who put train watching into perspective when he once said to someone questioning the time spent, "I'm with friends who share interests, we're sitting outside in lovely weather and when there aren't trains going by we discuss the world, the economy, football, and all sorts of things."

The lights are dimmed on Dean Freytag's South Ridge Lines, and fires are out at his Davies Steel complex. Model railroading has lost an icon, and I have lost a friend."

Yes, we all have.
Last edited by a moderator:

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
Sad news. When I first entered the hobby back in 1975 it was Dean's articles along with John Allen's and Linn Wescott's and so many others that inspired and awed me. Rest in peace.

John P

I never met Dean Freytag, though I certainly recognize the name. However, that's a beautifully written obituary. He sounds like a "model railroader's model railroader".


The Sarcastic Jedi
It's sad to lose one of the great ones. I really ejoyed his book "Cyclopedia of Industral Modeling." My condolensces to his family and friends.


Well-Known Member
I met Dean some years ago at a Mid Central Region convention, and went to his house and spent time checking out his layout and those great steel mill models. I was able to return the favor some years later by hosting him at our club in Milwaukee during an Industrial SIG meet. In between I corresponded with him, though not regularly. We've lost another good one. Darn!


Well-Known Member
Carey that was very fitting,
Sorry for the loss of a friend. It makes one realize, especially when getting older, that the time we have left is just that much more valued.

I like John above I never met Dean but certainly did see his name and picture on various occasions and like Mike above too, always associated the name with John Allen, Linn Wescott and others. Alan was luck enough to know him personally and that was very fortunate indeed. Some times friendships are all too short lived due to various circumstances.

His memory and modeling contribution will carry on I'm sure.
Last edited by a moderator:

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.