Mt. Sterling couple choo-chooses fun hobby

Brian and Connie Spangler’s “Kiousville Palestine & Warnersville Railroad”—a model train layout nestled among real rock and flower gardens—is one of the stops on this year’s Columbus Garden Rail Society tour. The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 10.

(Posted Sept. 5, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

About 10 years ago, Briane and Connie Spangler saw an advertisement for a tour of homes featuring model train layouts in outdoor garden settings. They hopped on their motorcycle, perused the layouts, and, in the process, found a new hobby.

“We started like a lot of people. I put down a train and had it running around two trees. It grows from there,” Briane said.

The Mount Sterling area couple’s setup definitely has come a long way from one track and two trees. And as has been the case for the last several years, their home is a stop on the same tour that sucked them in nearly a decade ago.

The Columbus Garden Railway Society’s 2017 tour is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 10. The Spanglers are one of 17 stops on this year’s tour, which also includes layouts in Columbus, Dublin, Grandview, Johnstown, Westerville and Worthington. Visitors can go to as many stops as they like, in whatever order they like. Admission is free.

“About 250 to 300 people is what we’ve been getting,” Spangler said of the crowds that show up at his place each year. “And in the last few years, it seems like we’re getting people who stay for hours. The kids sit down and just watch the trains.”

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.

Briane said the tour is a great opportunity to share the hobby with others, as well as encourage them to join in. A family membership in the Columbus Garden Railway Society is $24 per year. Members meet monthly at one another’s homes. They also take annual passenger train excursions and visit garden railway setups around the state.

“We have a pretty active club,” said Briane, adding that ownership of a model train railroad is not a requirement to join.

While several members hail from the Columbus area, others, like the Spanglers reside further away. The club’s membership includes residents of Granville, Newark, Sugar Creek and Sylvania. According to Briane, one couple from Michigan makes the trip south for the club’s annual banquet and passenger train rides.

For more information about the Sept. 10 tour and the club in general, visit

The Spanglers garden railway is located at 8905 McKendree Road, near Mount Sterling. From London, take State Route 56 South, turn left on Robinson Road, and left on Kiousville-Palestine Road. The couple’s property is located at the corner of Kiousville-Palestine and McKendree roads.


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