Three Madison County residents are having fun with trains and would like folks to get on board to share some of that fun this Sunday.
The Open Garden Tour of the Columbus Garden Railway Society and three Madison County railway hobbyists — two in Choctaw Lake, one near Mount Sterling — will share their garden layouts with visitors from 1 to 5 p.m.
They are three of 18 layouts, many of which lie east of Madison County.
Bob Dana, and his wife, Harriet, had a garden train layout at their home in Columbus from 2000 to 2010. At that point, they sold that home and dismantled the railroad. After becoming situated in their home on Pawnee Drive at Choctaw Lake, they built another garden railroad approximately two years ago.
Dana said he’d had a hobby interest in trains before the turn of the century.
“I tried HO (scale) but it was too small,” Dana said.
Garden railways are referred to as “G” scale, but size is not strictly adhered to. Garden railway modelers go by the “10-foot rule.”
“If it looks good from 10 feet, it’s fine,” Dana said.
Dana said their railroad uses equipment an observer might find on the Great Northern Railroad, which operated from 1857 to 1970 and ran from St. Paul, Minn. to Seattle, Wash.
Dana said his wife’s family had a number of members who worked for the Great Northern and passed through Montana, the state where she was born.
He runs three trains and a back-and-forth line on what he terms as a “younger” layout. While he works the track, she — a master gardener — provides her horticulture expertise to incorporate plants which won’t grow too tall. She trims a dwarf Alberta spruce to resemble a Douglas fir. She also uses thyme, phlox and Irish moss.
“Our hobby is individual. Some 18 layouts are open and none are alike,” Dana said. “Everybody does their own thing. Some are under construction to see what it’s like before it’s done.”
Fellow hobbyist Ray Chamberlain’s layout falls into that category. He calls it a work in progress. It is located at 2285 Pawnee Drive, a “five-iron” away from Dana’s. It’s called the R & P Choctaw Express.
Chamberlain and his wife, Patsy, enjoy working on the project together. He is currently in the process of building trestle pieces to elevate a section of the railway.
To enter the hobby, Chamberlain said it would cost between $200 and $400. The club members are willing to help a neophyte with any challenge.
“Just ask,” Chamberlain said.
He said one month out of the year club members pull pieces for their stores of hobby accessories and offer them for sale or trade.
Family members know what to give the Chamberlains for Christmas and they have received gifts of buildings from numerous sources.
The third Madison County garden railway layout is located in Kiousville at the home of Brian and Connie Spangler, 8905 McKendree Road, near the intersection of Kiousville-Palestine Road.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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