Garden Railroad Tour
Erie Zoo Railroad
Sharing the Hobby
Six Trees Garden RR
Six Trees Garden Railroad
by Charles Hall
My first experience with large-scale trains was the purchase of a bobber caboose in the early eighties. I purchased this caboose from a Master Chief who I was serving with on the Submarine Base n New London, Connecticut. When I retired from the Submarine Service in August of 1986, I began to collect LGB trains like the Denver Rio Grande Bobber Caboose, which sat proudly on my desk at Quartermaster "A" School. It was not long until I had a very nice collection of LGB engines and rolling stock. Then came phase II with the purchase of POLA and PIKO buildings. The next stop was to join the Big Train Operators Club. This also led me to join "The Connecticut "G" Scalers". It was through their encouragement that I started construction on my present garden railroad.
Garden Railroading then became my obsession. I read Garden Railways magazine to help me formulate my plan of attack. I had one half acre to work with. As I looked at my back yard, I could see what I wanted. I could see it as if it was completed and ready to play with. I started construction in the fall of 1999. My property sloped from left to right, so I had the digger move the earth and the Connecticut Potatoes (Rocks) to form a horseshoe shape, leaving the center of the horseshoe at original ground level. On the high side of the property, I dug a trench, resulting in a valley, which makes up the top portion or left side of the horseshoe. I formed two rock gardens berms, making up the front and rear sides of the horseshoe. My brother and I filled the open side of the horseshoe with a 22-foot long trestle bridge. My plans called for the right side of the horseshoe to be at the same height or close to the bottom of the trench. I moved approximately 18 yards of sand into position forming the ground level of a very large circle. Then I placed half-inch stone on top of the packed down sand, to bring the roadbed to grade.
During the next three years, I assembled several Pola and Piko buildings. I placed the buildings into position to form a "Western Town". Track was laid down to construct a large freight yard, which included the construction of a wye and sidings, to be use in changing the direction of the trains. A logging operation became the main operation of the trench, which leads into two plastic half-barrels, joined, forming the Barrel Mountain Tunnel. When I finished the tunnel, the second half of the trench became a dessert area, with cactus, adobe buildings, and even a poison water hole with skeletons of those who drank from it. The trestle bridge takes you from the freight yard and town to the backside of the horseshoe. This will be the location for a second town, which now will form the towns of Silverton and Durango. At the very back of the layout, in the dessert area, there is a golden railroad spike, driven into the ground just below the last two Hillman clamps forming the completion of the main line. The results of this endeavor have resulted In a main line of 338 feet and additional sidings of 205 feet (543 feet total).
The name of this garden railroad was the result at taking down lots of trees, which upset my wife. I did leave six trees and two very old blueberry bushes. So in trying to think of a name, I decided on calling it "Six Trees Garden Railroad". It sort has a Native American ring to It. This layout is also dedicated to Chief Moon Face Bear and Chief
G'tinemong, of the tribe mentioned in the next paragraph.
My inspiration for this project was a result of living between two Native American Tribes, the Golden
Paugussetts and the Mohegans. At the highest point above the desert I have and
Indian village. Since this a western layout, I have called the Indian
reservation, the "Crowe Nation". Just below this village there is a large herd of buffalo with a newborn white buffalo. On the Crowe reservation there is also a gold mine protected by a leprechaun. It seems the Irish and the Native American have something in common with their belief In the Little People.
One additional feature of this layout is the fact that a vehicle can be driven around the entire layout. This gives me the ability to drop off garden materials as needed, and also allows me the opportunity to drive someone around the layout that is handicapped or unable to walk the terrain.
I planted annuals to give the biggest bang of color for the dollars spent. I additionally planted several hanging baskets into barrels or into the banks of the trench in consort with the perennials used in the other areas of the rock garden. Overall, I was please with my presentation. I was honored last summer, with approximately 200 people visiting my layout and signing my guest book.
This year's plans include working on two ponds with a waterfall and stream, which will cut through the center of the horseshoe. This will also separate the western village from the Crowe Indian Reservation. It has been a fun project, but I still have more to do. My friends have informed me that a garden railroad "is never done", because changes are always being made. It is a joy to sit on the deck looking out over this railroad and take it all in. I especially enjoy watching the children that visit the layout. They put their heads on the trestle track and watch the train coming at them, and then lift their head up to watch the train pass by, then return their head to the track to watch train travel off into another section of the layout. What a GREAT HOBBY.