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08.02.2015
The Minnesota Garden Railway Society (MGRS) was formed in 1990 by a group of model rail hobbyists who were, according to their website, “interested in running large-scale trains in backyards and gardens.” The group has grown to include about 100 passionate folks who integrate veritable railroad wonderlands into their gardens and landscape, and provide awe and inspiration to the rest of us who only dream we could be that creative or diligent. MGRS also created a lovely layout at the Wayzata Depot, where folks from the club who don’t have railway gardens of their own can learn how to lay tracks, build tunnels and bridges, and run the trains through the 1940s-era Wayzata-esque town. In addition to maintaining the Depot layout, each year members of the group open their doors—or gardens, if you will—to one another to share tricks of the trade, discuss new techniques and kibitz about their shared passion.
Schreier, who is president of MGRS, and his wife, Janet, who is a master gardener, found their Minnetonka home with its almost one-acre lot in 1995.
After adding a stamped-concrete patio, pond and pergola, and transforming a whopper of a side-yard slope into a vision of beauty complete with flagstone steps, birch trees, trellises, myriad plants and shrubbery, a hosta glade and Janet’s stunning mosaics, they realized they needed some other projects to work on.
They added alpine miniature trees and plants they trimmed to scale to look as if the whole thing had been plucked from real life, shrunk down and dropped into their backyard.
The club has 20 open houses each year in various locations throughout the city for MGRS members and other garden-related tours.
It started with an overhead layout, but quickly moved to a garden layout of grand proportions. Jim and Cheryl’s labor of love consists of more than 300 feet of stainless steel track, three trestles, six bridges, one tunnel, three rivers, one pond, and a plethora of buildings including schools, churches, mills and coal buildings. The consummate craftsman, Jim Shaver handcrafted (or at least modified) almost every structure in the garden. Jim, who is not only handy but also introspective, has thought about where this passion for all things train comes from. This website is about you and your community.  Help keep your neighbors informed with random musings around town.
The Sandstone & Termite is a 45 mm gauge garden railway situated in my backyard in Loftus, Sydney, Australia. By building my own track and trains, I have been able to get into this hobby at minimum cost.
However, by using a set of crossovers at Maple Jn, and the line right around the yard as a 'giant' reversing loop, a single track line 200m long, with 5 crossing stations (Melaleuca, Maple Jn, Sandstone, Blackwall, Ti-tree, Lilyvale and back to Maple Jn) can be operated from Termite to Ti-tree and return. I have used Bachmann locos and rebuilt the bodies, or Aristrocraft motor blocks with scratchbuilt bodies.
This pic shows the sandstone ledge that gave the railway part of its name, and forms the major engineering work, with its 1:25 grade requiring banking of trains.


The man who first put steam engines on rails was a tall, strong Cornishman described by his schoolmaster as “obstinate and inattentive”.
On February 21, 1804, Trevithick’s pioneering engine hauled 10 tons of iron and 70 men nearly ten miles from Penydarren, at a speed of five miles-per-hour, winning the railway’s owner a 500 guinea bet into the bargain. Perhaps because it was the birthplace, Britain can boast more railway attractions per square mile than any other country. But it is North East England that is known as the birthplace of railways for here, around Newcastle, the world’s first tramways were laid and, later, the world’s first public railway between Stockton and Darlington steamed into life.
At nearby Beamish, the open-air museum of North Country Life – where the past is brought magically to life – there’s an opportunity to see one of the earliest railways re-created. FREE PARKING is available behind the Clubhouse, across the street adjacent to the Fire House, and in the school lots off Brookview Drive.
Thomas the Tank Engine, alongside Hogwart's Express, await the arrival of the GSN's High Mountain Flyer at Middletown Station. We were lucky enough to get two of these enthusiasts to show us around so we could see firsthand just how awe-inspiring these garden railway layouts can be. They had seven tons of boulders (moved into place by the Schreiers) to give the area some height and dimension, then began filling in the space. He and his wife, Cheryl, had recently sold their horses that once grazed their almost nine-acre parcel of land in Minnetrista, so he needed something to fill the time.
Shaver found a landscaper who helped him reconfigure the backyard, which included a new retaining wall, deck and pond.
His dad was Al Shaver, the famed announcer for the Minnesota North Stars hockey team, and in 1961 they moved from Edmonton, Alberta, to Montreal, Quebec.
He has dreams of adding another loop near the back of his property, which will one day connect to a train station—handmade by him, of course. Sandstone station yard is at left under the bridge, and the lattice in the distance supports Melaleuca station. One of the great things about this scale is that you can get most of your materials at the local hardware store instead of specialist model shops, and you can use your normal power tools. I originally turned my own wheels from Nylon on a wood lathe, but now use Bachmann plastic ones. Are you into GWR, Great Western Railway, British Railways, Flying Scotsman, Station track, Caternary set, Steam locomotives, Deisel locomotives, Electric locomotives, Passenger cars, Freight cars, Trucks, Scenery kits.


Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), who learnt his craft in Cornish tin mines, built his “Penydarren tram road engine” for a line in South Wales whose primitive wagons were pulled, slowly and laboriously, by horses. He was 20 years ahead of his time – Stephenson’s “Rocket” was not even on the drawing board but Trevithick’s engines were seen as little more than a novelty. The figures are impressive: more than 100 heritage railways and 60 steam museum centres are home to 700 operational engines, steamed-up by an army of 23,000 enthusiastic volunteers and offering everyone the chance to savour a bygone age by riding on a lovingly preserved train.
Though small in stature, these narrow-gauge lines are real working railways, originally built to haul slate and other minerals out of the mountains, but now a wonderful way for visitors to admire the scenery, which is breathtaking. Feel the wind – and steam – in your hair as you travel in open carriages behind a working replica of a pioneering engine such as Stephenson’s Locomotion No.1, built in 1825. From that point, Shaver and Cheryl took over creating their Gopher, Pug and Badger Garden Railway. He also added lights to most of the buildings, passenger cars, streams, bridges and pond so they cast a warm glow across this man-made wonder.
There will be the Gopher Uranium Mines, and he even has an idea for an Addams Family-inspired scene where a remote control train will run into an oil tanker and explode on contact.
There are eight lines to choose from and one, the Ffestiniog Railway, is the oldest of its kind in the world. Part of Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry is situated in the world’s oldest passenger station; and the ‘Thinktank’ museum in Birmingham contains the world’s oldest active steam engine, designed by James Watt in 1778.
SchreierMark prefers the modern diesel engines and rolling stock, and has the whole set-up hooked up to an external remote control. If it looks like a carriage at first glance then that is good enough for most of the people who see it. Birdhouses double as buildings in their Americana-based “town” named Chipton, and their European village they call Daleburg; they are ceremoniously named after the chipmunks that find it great fun to scamper here and there around the garden railroad. I'm in the hobby for the fun of driving trains around the back yard, standing back and listening to the sounds and talking to the neighbours as they come to look.



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