Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pulling Coal Through Falling Snow

Merry Christmas from the Cahaba and Acton Lines of the L&N. Spending time with family and friends has been fun, but this load of coal can't wait. Even snow showers won't slow down this FA-1 diesel from hauling a few more loaded hoppers down to the junction to hook up with the rest of the train.

Although the track hasn't been set on the garden railroad, this simple vignette was staged for the wonderful photo-op that mother nature provided on the day after Christmas. The locomotive and two-bay hoppers are from Aristo-Craft. The evergreens along the track are two of the Dwarf Alberta spruces that were featured a few days ago. They are still in the plastic containers in which they arrived.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Dirt Work

Working on the railroad can sometimes take time, especially around the holidays.  Building a stacked-stone retaining wall allows the action of the railroad to be elevated to the water level of the pond while bringing the action of the railroad closer to the eye of the audience.  Raising the railway action also separates the garden railroad from insidious Bermuda grass, which is an aggressive scale replica of kudzu.  The less maintenance required for the railroad, the greater the time to enjoy it.  Aging knees and backs also like having the action elevated!

Thirteen 40' Tall Living Christmas Trees

Thirteen 40' tall spruce trees in time for Christmas?  Well, in 1:29 scale, they are 40 feet tall.  Each of these beautiful miniature Christmas trees is actually a Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica').  These are very popular items for garden railroad themes due to their true conical evergreen appearance, flexibility and availability.  A one-gallon size will set you back around $8 each, however the key to successful yet affordable garden railroading is to never pay full retail.  These were purchased back in August from a DIY retailer for $1 each.  They were puny and suffered from a lack of daily watering.  They bounced back strongly with a little love, regular watering and placement in an area of the garden where they did not get direct sun when it was still hot or direct exposure to the first heavy frosts or a spray from a marking dog with a lifted leg!  These will be planted in a random group to replicate a natural evergreen forest.  Many towns across the American south were founded upon evergreen forests, especially along the L&N railroad. Brewton and Evergreen, Alabama are a couple that come to mind.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Step 1: Site Analysis/Infrastructure Design-Build

A koi pond has been roughed-in before the track plan can begin.  It's a modest-sized pond that will serve as a scale version of Lake Davidson on Buck Creek in Helena.  The pond will be fed by rainfall accumulated via a rain barrel, if we can get some rain.

Here's the top pond that will feature a small waterfall.  A beautiful Japanese maple is in the background.  The biological filter is homemade from a Rubbermaid tub!  A Russian sage rests on the ledge, waiting to be set in place.  Although looking rough now, the final result should be captivating.  One or more bridges will span the scale version of Buck Creek.


There's a lot of work to be done to get this project moving.  Help is always welcome out here on the L&N.  Hearing the whistles of real trains off in the distance inspire the creativity to strive forward! The small pine in the foreground is an Italian stone pine.  A lorepetulum shaped as a tree is on the right and a Monkey Puzzle tree (Cunningham fir) is in the back center.  We have a lot of work to do!