by Dennis Mead
On Friday, July 30, 2010, the Erie Zoo, located in Erie, Pennsylvania, had a ribbon cutting ceremony, opening
the new Garden Railroad at the zoo. The layout is 55 feet wide by 30 feet deep. Four trains can run at the same
time on the layout. Because it is on a hillside, ground was brought in to make up the difference of over 25 inches
between the top and bottom levels. The wood trestle is approximately 24 feet long, 25 inches high, and made
from cut American cedar.
The layout is sponsored by the Erie General Electric
Federal Credit Union, and the diesel locomotives are all prototypes of hometown-made General Electric engines.
The NYC U-25-B 2500 represents the entry locomotive series GE started with. The 2500 also is significant,
because it is modeled after only one of four surviving examples of this engine and can be seen at the Lake Shore
Railway Historical Society in nearby North East, PA.
The top loop is shared by the Amtrak P42 Genesis train
and the NS Dash 9-40, both engines of recent production also here at the Erie plant. Each train is kept in the storage
building, and each run half the day in the opposite direction of the other.
Jeff Carey, the horticulturist at the Zoo, designed
the fencing around the display, using railroad track and steel mesh for protection. He, with his crew,
is also responsible for all the planting in the display. Grant
Daubenspeck, the other individual in this project, did all the bridge construction, along with the tunnel portals.
A check presentation during the grand opening, features (L to R)
Grant Daubenspeck and his wife, Bonnie, who is a Board Member of the Zoo, Gail Cook and Trent Mason of the Erie General Electric
Federal Credit Union, Ainslie Brosig, Marketing Director of the Erie Zoo, Jeff Carey and the author, Dennis
Mead. Photos courtesy of Bob Zelenak.
More photos can be
Big Train Operator issue #139, Spring 2011