Choo-choo! Three local stops on garden railway tour

Ray and Patsy Chamberlain’s “R&P Choctaw Express Railroad”
Ray and Patsy Chamberlain’s “R&P Choctaw Express Railroad”

(Posted Sept. 1, 2016)

Railway Garden Tour

The Columbus Garden Railway Society’s annual tour takes place Sept. 11. The public can view featured exhibits anytime between 1 and 5 p.m. The tour is free and self-guided.

The three Madison County stops are:

• 2285 Pawnee Drive (Choctaw Lake)—featuring the railway garden of Ray and Patsy Chamberlain;

• 2341 Pawnee Drive (Choctaw Lake)—featuring the railway garden of Bob and Harriet Dana; and

• 8905 McKendree Road (near Mount Sterling)—featuring the railway garden of Briane and Connie Spangler.

For a list of all 20 garden railways on the tour, go to

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County is home to three stops on the Columbus Garden Railway Society’s annual tour, which also includes 16 stops in the Columbus area and one in Johnstown.

The event showcases the creative handiwork of hobbyists who have incorporated model train layouts into their outdoor landscapes. This year’s tour runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 11. Admission at each stop is free.

“We usually have 250 to 300 people come through. It’s a great way to introduce people to the hobby, both the gardening and the railroad side, and it’s also entertainment for the kids,” said Briane Spangler, who with his wife, Connie, has spent the last 10 years building, expanding and maintaining their “Kiousville Palestine & Warnersville Railroad” at their Mount Sterling area home.

The Spanglers’ display includes two main lines that circle two ponds and a sunken patio and a third line around a lighthouse that sits over an underground lake (a.k.a. their septic tank). Radio-controlled steam and diesel engines chug around the rails, and a trolley runs down the middle of a street. The whole set-up is nestled among rock and flower gardens.

Madison County’s other two tour stops are at Choctaw Lake.

Ray and Patsy Chamberlain invite visitors to see their “R&P Choctaw Express Railroad,” which includes 300 feet of brass track arranged in three ovals on a sloped lot. Track-powered locomotives are a highlight, as are many plantings, the result of Patsy’s green thumb.

“We have more buildings since last year. One is a replica of our house. I made it using plexiglass covered with plastic parts that look like siding and roofing. It’s 24th-scale; a half-inch equals a foot,” Ray said.

Like the Spanglers and Chamberlains, Choctaw Lake residents Bob and Harriet Dana are repeat exhibitors for the annual tour. Their “Sunburst Minneapolis Southern Line” sits on a 20×35-foot raised bed and features Colorado sandstone, dwarf Japanese maples, succulents and evergreens. Passenger and freight cars run over the mostly trestled bi-level track.

“One of the things we do each year is give out a list to the kids who come, telling them to find certain things in the display, like the two brown bears,” said Bob. Oftentimes, parents get in on the scavenger hunt, too, he added.

Visitors can travel to as many or as few of the stops on the tour as they like and in whatever order they choose. All stops will be open rain or shine.

The Columbus Garden Railway Society has over 170 members, most of the couples and most from central Ohio, though the roster also includes members from Springfield, Dayton, northern Ohio and Michigan.


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