By Phil Yokers
This year, Thirteen Garden Railways in the greater Portland area will be open for visitation from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, June 18th. 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. Several gardens feature streams and ponds with bridges and trestles over which the trains 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 13 featured railroads.
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 vision and either built into existing landscape or the landscape was created to fit the railroad – or a little of both.
The equipment you will see is “G” scale, approximately ½” in scale (1/2” = 1’) and specifically designed for outdoor operation. Some layouts have rails that are electrified to provide energy to the locomotives, and other locomotives are battery powered and controlled via radio control. Some are even live steam locomotives. The 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 anyone’s interests: trains, garden landscaping, Bonsai, water features, miniature buildings, miniature 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 and a myriad of small blooming flowers, you will see how the miniature world of garden railroading is created. Most layouts on the tour are handicap accessible.
The Rose City Garden Railway Society began in the early 1990’s and now boasts over 100 members. Not all members have outdoor layouts, but everyone enjoys the hobby. The club has a large indoor layout which it displays at railroad shows, 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 trains, and has a lot of fun together.
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.
Tour Books (your ticket to get in) are available at the following 18 locations:
Al’s Garden Center (Sherwood)
Dennis’ Seven Dees (Lake Oswego, SW Portland, SE Portland)
Portland Nursery (Division St. & Stark St. in Portland)
Hughes Water Gardens (Tualitin)
Yard ‘N Garden Land (Vancouver, WA)
Hobby Town USA (Wilsonville, Happy Valley & Vancouver, WA)
Hillsboro Hobby Shop
Mainline Trains (Forest Grove)
Quality Farm Toys & Hobbies (Oregon City)
Tammie’s Hobbies (Beaverton)
The Hobby Smith (Portland)
Whistle Stop Trains (Portland)