This year, 14 Garden Railways in the greater Portland area will be open for visits from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, June 16th. This is a great activity for the whole family at a very affordable price. The garden railways have miniature plants, structures, and people populating the “G” scale railroad worlds that have been created. Many garden railroads feature streams and ponds with bridges and trestles over which the engines pull their passenger and freight cars.
The admission fee of $10 per family (all ages) purchases a self-guided tour booklet with photos, a description of each garden layout, handicap access information, maps to get there, and admission to all 14 featured railroads. Most layouts on the tour are handicap accessible.
The public is invited to tour as many garden railways as they wish, in any order, and spend as long as they like in each one. Questions are always welcomed. The garden railroads you visit are one-of-a-kind, created with a theme and either built into existing gardens or the landscape was created to fit the railroad—or a little of both.
The railroad equipment you will see is “G” scale, approximately ½” in scale (½ inch = one foot) and specifically designed for outdoor operation. Some layouts have the rails electrified to power the locomotives, and others have locomotives that are battery powered and controlled via radio control. Some layouts have actual live steam locomotives. Rails may be brass, aluminum, or nickel silver and remain outside all year.
One of the most interesting aspects of this hobby is that it can involve everyone’s interests: trains, garden landscaping, Bonsai, water features, miniature buildings and people, creative vignettes – all of which spark the imagination.
Many of the plants are dwarf or miniature, even trees pruned to look like they fit into the scale of ½” = 1’. With accents of moss, thyme, sedums, and steppables to create meadows with myriads of small blooming flowers, you will see how the miniature world of garden railroading is created.
The Rose City Garden Railway Society began in the early 1990’s and now boasts over 115 member families. Not all members have outdoor layouts, but everyone enjoys the hobby. The club has a huge indoor layout and a small Thomas Train layout that are sometimes displayed at railroad shows and Garden Centers. The club hosts monthly open house events during the summer, conducts “how-to” seminars and clinics, has railroad movie nights in the winter, goes on “rail fan” field trip excursions to ride actual steam trains, and has a lot of fun together.
In 2019 the local Society will host the 35thNational Garden Railway Convention here in Portland, bringing about 1,000 enthusiasts from around the U.S.A. to see our unique Northwest layouts and to ride the “Freedom Train,” Steam Engine #4449, housed at Oregon Rail Heritage Center near OMSI. The national convention will be held August 27-31, 2019, and attendance is open to all interested persons.
Visit the club website at www.rcgrs.com or call 503-720-9009 for more information.
If you are interested in becoming a member, dues are $15/year.
Come for fun. All aboard for the Summer Tour.
Tour Books (your ticket to get in) are available at the following 16 locations:
Al’s Garden Center (Sherwood, Gresham)
Dennis’ Seven Dees (Lake Oswego, SW Portland)
Hughes Water Gardens (Tualatin)
Portland Nursery (Division St. and Stark St. in Portland)
Yard ‘n Garden Land (Vancouver)
Hobby Town USA (Wilsonville, Happy Valley, Vancouver)
Hillsboro Hobby Shop
Tammies Hobbies (Beaverton)
The Hobby Smith (Portland)
Whistle Stop Trains (Portland)
Oregon Rail Heritage Center (Portland)