Hal Carstens passes away at home, age 84

MRH_news_desk's picture

Harold H. Carstens, publisher of Railroad Model Craftsman and Railfan & Railroad magazines, died peacefully at his New Jersey home on June 23rd.


A lifelong rail fan, modeler and active train collector, Hal Carstens was widely recognized for his numerous contributions to the hobby that spanned for than fifty years. He was a life member and early supporter of NMRA and received the organizations Distinguished Service Award in 1962. He served as president of several organizations including the Hobby Industry Association (HIAA) in 1971-72, Model Railroad Industry Association (MRIA) 1977-78 and Train Collectors Association 1964-65. He received the HIAA Meritorious Award of Honor in 1979 and was elected to the MRIA Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1989 NMRA named Mr. Carstens the Model Railroad Man of the Year.


another giant gone

My sympathies go out to the Carstens family, and the whole Cartens organization. Hal's truly one of the giants that helped form this hobby into what it is today. He will be missed.  

brothaslide's picture

Was Mr. Carstens a WWII Veteran?

I am sorry to hear this.  Was Mr. Carstens a WWII veteran (he was 84)? 

Mr. Carsten was one of the greats

Hal Carstens was one of the greats of the hobby from the time I got into it in the mid 1970s. I have always read his column's in RMC and they were memorable. He used to provide information on what had gone on before as well as what was happening currently. I will miss his byline.

Carstens is fine publisher that is now in the hands of his son and other relatives and continues in the fine tradition Harold H. Carstens established from the very beginning.

I send condolences to his family and friends. We have all lost one of the truly great pioneers.


Hal served in WWII, The War

Hal served in WWII, The War to end all Wars. He served in the Philippines as a medic. After his Honorable Discharge, he obtained employment at Penn Publications working for Railroad Model Craftmman magazine.


I am shocked and saddened to find out what happened to Hal. Back in the 70's when I was a manufacturer he was my "Rabbi" in the industry. However, since 2006, almost 30 years since I left the hobby Hal has been e-mailing me everyday, sometimes as many as 4 or 5 a day. Some were his typical sense of humor but a lot helped me get through some rough times with my health. I have kept all 2853 e-mails as someday I figured it would be "fun" to look back. I did not think that  today was going to be the day to start "looking back". I did not get any e-mails yesterday so this morning I wrote "Where Are You?  A few minutes later I got back an e-maill from Henry telling me that Hal had passed away.

I never thought how much Hal has meant to me until today, and now knowing I won't be getting any more e-mails making fun of me, or cheering me up. He would send me photos of himself when he was in Manila during WWII, or photos of his Studebakers. Hal used to write me at least once a month that " I owed my  life to him, as while I was in my crib as a baby, he was protecting my freedom oveseas from America's enemies ". His passing is devasting to his family and the hobby, but probably more to his friends. Having Hal as a friend was an honor to be cherished. He has touched so many people in a way that cannot be measured. You will read about all of his accomplishments, his awards, but to have Hal as a friend is probably the highest hnor one could achieve.  Ellen, Robin and myself extend our condolances to his family and I hope that Hal has a big bottle of single malt scotch with him so we can all toast him and his life.

I am going to really miss him.

Bill Glass

joef's picture

What a priviledge ...

What a great priviledge to have people who knew Hal personally post here on this thread. Only with today's internet is such an immediate and personal touch possible. I'm delighted to see the MRH web site being used in this way to honor this great hobby icon at his passing.

These personal notes make this news all the more impacting and meaningful. I never knew Hal personally, but I saw him at some of the National Conventions. Hal Carstens quickly became a household name to us modelers when I first joined the hobby back in 1967.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

A sad passing... Hal's name

A sad passing...

Hal's name was synonymous with model railroading.

In Memoriam, Hal Carstens 1925 - 2009

>> Posts index

MRH search (Google)

User login