Tour railway gardens on Sept. 13

Photos by Wayne Beedle Bob and Harriet Dana’s “Sunburst and Minneapolis II Railroad”
Photos by Wayne Beedle
Bob and Harriet Dana’s “Sunburst and Minneapolis II Railroad”

(Posted Sept. 4, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County is home to three stops on the Columbus Garden Railway Society’s annual tour, which also includes 15 stops in the Columbus area.

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. 13. Admission at each stop is free.

“We’re thrilled to have three layouts for people to look at here in Madison County,” said Choctaw Lake resident Bob Dana, who with his wife, Harriet, is excited to once again open their set-up for public viewing. Their “Sunburst and Minneapolis II Railroad” was part of last year’s tour.

This was a rebuilding year for the Danas’ display as the severe winter weather wreaked havoc on the water features.

“The pond sunk three inches on one side, and I ended up with a leak in the waterfall, probably from the freezing and thawing,” Bob said. With repairs, everything is now back in working order.

The layout 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 bilevel track.

Like the Danas, Ray and Patsy Chamberlain are Choctaw Lake residents and repeat tour exhibitors. Their “R&P Choctaw Express Railroad” includes 300 feet of brass track arranged in three ovals on a sloped lot. Track-powered locomotives are a highlight, as are the colorful plantings Patsy installed this spring and summer. Other new features include a log cabin, added bridges, and a refrigeration car, diesel engine and caboose.

“We had about 250 people come through last year,” Ray said. “People can come out and see it for as long as they want, then move onto the next (display).”

The third display in Madison County belongs to Briane and Connie Spangler of Mount Sterling. They have built, expanded and maintained their “Kiousville Palestine & Warnersville Railroad” over the past nine years. It consists of 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 of a town in progress. The whole set-up is nestled among rock and flower gardens.

“Briane and Connie have a great display,” Bob Dana said. “They have a pond in it that’s nine feet deep!”

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.

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