In the late 1970s I had a small N-scale layout. Its main location was on a 2' x 4' piece of particle board. I had already built a number of plastic kits such as motorcycles, airplanes, buildings, etc. Some of these were used on the layout. The equipment was only a single steam locomotive and a couple of freight cars - whatever was in the original Fleischmann starter kit!
The subject of this next photo is a small, completely scratch-built diorama. It featured a small shop area, with a sign over the entrance on the road. There was a loading ramp, and some random trash. All made out of small pieces of wood. The road "ramp" was hand-filed. The only two things not scratch-built were the two trees and the red truck with its parked trailer. The "bushes" were loosely-placed lichen.
Because space was limited in our house, I sometimes had to set the layout up on the built-in bookcase in front of the window in my bedroom. I created a double-track mainline with lots of activity. The set-up would stay up for weeks and I would add to it from time to time. Nothing was ever glued to the bookcase. Sneeze, and the whole scene would be ruined!
The double-mainline terminated at an engine house. The engine house's doors could be opened. The scene depicted here shows a crew building an overpass over the line using two cranes. The bushes were lichen. The "soil" was sawdust.
Further to the left, we see the active construction of two houses. These were kits, as was the fully built house on the left.
Next, we see a flower nursery with two greenhouses. Also a kit. These were of interest, because my grandfather had two large green houses and many smaller ones in his business, not unlike the ones shown in this kit.
One last photo that shows the little switcher move through the manually operated turnouts. The track was powered by connecting the transformer to the ends of the track.