German Wolfgang Frey started to build an N-scale layout of the Stuttgart main railway station in 1978. Thirty years later the project had reached a respectable size of more than 750 square metres (8,100 sq ft). Mr Frey's "Stuttgart Hbf" layout is an exact replica of the Stuttgart main railway station with its related railyards in the 1970s. The layout is based on extensive background research of the prototype. The layout is computer controlled by 27 PCs running software developed by the owner of the layout and features very detailed and prototypical signalling systems. The layout is private, but has an informational website in German with an English language.
One of the largest N scale layouts in the world is located at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Pacific Desert Lines is a 1,200-square-foot (111.5 m2) layout featuring hand laid code 40 rail. Each piece of rail is 0.040 inches (1.016 mm) (forty thousandths) high and is manually affixed to the roadbed by solder to copper clad ties placed every 5th tie. There is approximately 33 miles (53 km) (scale miles, actually 1,089 feet or 331.9 metres) of mainline track on this massive layout as well as over 500 hand made turnouts. Many models of local San Diego structures can be identified on the layout, including an intricate scale model of San Diego's Santa Fe Depot, the Western Metal Supply Building, the Carrizo Gorge's Goat Canyon Trestle, Palomar Observatory, the American Agar building, and the Carlsbad, California flower fields and power plant. The model of the Santa Fe depot was constructed using the actual building's blueprints and has been featured on the cover of Model Railroader magazine. The Spanish revival architecture is reproduced using epoxy castings of scale model adobe roof tiles. The Western Metal Supply Building (now part of the left field foul line in the San Diego Padres' Petco Park) was constructed using historic photographs and contains brick castings, brass-etched fire escapes, and computer-generated window panes. The detail on the Goat Canyon Trestle includes the prototype's railings, catwalks, and fire suppression system. The power plant contains fibre optic strobe lights in its chimney. Many buildings have detailed interiors, right down to the napkin dispenser and placemats on the tables at the corner cafe. Some surfers appear in the water off the coast. The layout can be operated by manual or computer control. Trains can run completely unattended or a single operator can control the layout with the click of a mouse.
In the United States, a landmark N scale project layout, the Clinchfield, was built in 1978 by the late Gordon Odegard and featured in a series of articles for Model Railroader magazine. The article series was also reprinted in the book Modelling the Clinchfield in N Scale by Kalmbach Publishing. The Clinchfield layout measured 6 by 13 feet (1.83 by 3.96 m) and was noteworthy for a number of reasons: 1) it was highly portable because of its modular construction, 2) showed the potential of high scenery to track ratios possible in 1:160, 3) used a unique aluminum frame and (at the time revolutionary) styrofoam construction to cut down on weight and 4) was highly prototypical for the era. The Clinchfield layout is one of the most famous American N scale layouts ever constructed and was awarded as the grand prize in a 1984 sweepstakes. The layout was also displayed at a number of train shows and has traded ownership several times by private collectors. The prototype Clinchfield Railroad was an operating and holding company for the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway. The layout has been refurbished, outfitted for DCC, and was shown at the 2008 N Scale Collectors National Convention in Louisville, KY.
Also in the United States, a massive N scale semi-public layout, named East Valley Lines, is in Los Angeles, California. It is maintained by a semi-public special club and is part of Griffith Park.