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The term Pike referring to a model railroad has bugged me for ages. Does anyone have an idea of where it originated :confused:
From quick etemological research, it's another name for road dating back to 1837. We model railROADS Road=Pike=misinterpretation by some unknowing easterners= how it became a meaning for "small model railroad." There you go!


My other car is a 4-8-4
A-HA! I think I have an answer, as I remember recently reading about this very topic!

As explained by Carl Swanson in the August 2007 "Model Railroader," p. 20:

"A pike is an ancient infantry weapon, a pointed metal head on a long thin wooden shaft. In the old days, private companies built toll roads, which were blocked by a wood shaft - a pike. You would pay your toll, and the attendant would swing the pike away to let you through. Toll roads are still called turnpikes today.

"In the past, railroaders often used 'pike,' in the sense of 'road,' as slang for their full-size railroad. Modelers picked up on that and started calling their layouts 'pikes.' ..."

I don't know any better, and that sounds as plausible an explanation as any to me. I'll buy it for a dollar!


Fleeing from Al
Dan, that's right on the money. Just as pikes were the original toll roads, railroads were also named pikes since you had to pay to ride. I think there were a few early railroads that even included "Pike" intheir corporate names.

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