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Garden Railroads

The mighty engine lifts the rolling train over the grade and through the dark tunnel only to emerge in a pristine landscape. Up ahead a massive creature looms treacherously near the metal and wood lifeline. The engineer cries out with panic and hits the horn with an ear piercing blast. The hairy creature charges, somewhat playful, somewhat terrifying. Is it a buffalo grown large from prairie feeding or could it be an ancient mammoth that dwarfs the locomotive and impedes its ultimate progress? All seems lost when suddenly he lurches forward and out of nowhere a giant hand reaches out to stop the mighty Pomerainian from its attack.

Garden Railroading is not a new pastime. In Great Britain, it dates back more than a century and is again gaining popularity throughout Europe and North America.

Most garden railroaders particularly enjoy the vital difference between creating an indoor layout and one in the garden. Inside, you create the illusion of reality with plaster and plastic. But outside, you maneuver with real life. Mountains are earth. Rivers are water. Chasms are stone, and the environment you create truly grows. Herein lie the charms-and the challenges. Heavy rains can cause washouts, and fallen branches can block tracks. Even a rambunctious puppy can wreak the havoc of a rogue elephant.

There are garden railroad clubs springing up all over the country and enthusiasm is high. With the advent of Spring, this is a perfect time for building a new railroad through the basil plants and past the magnolias. It is a perfect outdoor hobby for the whole family to enjoy in their own backyards.

According to Rail-by-Mail, a supplier of trains, tracks and accessories, out of Vernon, NJ, "garden railroading is one of the fastest growing hobbies in America". With a little imagination and that little kid in all of us, we can certainly understand why! LASN

8 Tips On How to Start A Garden Railroad

1. Plan Ahead. Before you finalize your track placement plans, visualize your garden at its fullest growth and remember where perennials will reappear.

2. Make sure the ground is level. No more than a 5" slope in a 10' stretch. If not, fill in area and build retaining walls.

3. Check for drainage. Watch for spots that will get boggy after rain or a sprinkling.

4. Check for obstacles. Watch out for clothesline, tree roots, etc.

5. Don't create an obstacle. For instance, don't put your train in the middle of your pet's favorite path.

6. Watch out for Mother Nature. Don't lay track under trees that shed excessively.

7. Check the juice. Make sure the electricity source is easily accessible.

8. Keep in mind that your garden and your railway should complement each other, not get in each other's way!

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November 12, 2019, 5:47 am PDT

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