Photo gallery

Photos from the 2015 NGRC in Denver
Layouts #1 to #52

My family and I went to the 2015 National Garden Railway Convention (NGRC) in Denver this year, and made it to all 50 open railroads (#1 to #52, but two were cancelled) from Tuesday through Saturday! With very limited hours most days (8am-1pm) it was a grueling schedule to make it all of them, with 5 to 10 minutes at most layouts. And considering how far away one of them was on Saturday I don’t think many people drove out there (Estes Park), but Theresa loves checklists so she was pushing us to go go go! I’m really happy with the result: the experience of seeing so many amazing railroads, and over 1000 photos to remember them by!

Layout #1: Tuscarora Railroad
It was a real pleasure to get to visit Kevin Strong’s railroad. Having seen so many photos of it it was great to see it in person. It’s modest in size, but exceptional on detail. With mature landscaping and well-placed structures it looks like the railroad has always been here.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #2: R.P.K. Garden Railfun
This railroad was big on action with a creative trackplan and detail items everywhere. There are many impressive scratchbuilt structures and a unique concrete waterfeature.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #3: Grunenwalt Berg Bahn
I love the wide radius curves here, and the unique vantage points of being able to go over, around, and into the railroad. Theresa and I also both loved the overgrown look of the landscaping and the sparse buildings and detail items looked right at home.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #4: Johnson Pass Spur
What first caught my attention was the scratchbuilt Hiawatha steam locomotive on display. It’s rare that I can’t tell what chassis it may have been built on (i.e. Aristo-Craft Pacific, etc) so I’d like to know more about this. But we were here first thing in the morning at the same time as the bus, and the host (or one of them) was busy trying to get more trains running. It was a very scenic railroad and I wish I could have enjoyed it longer.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #5: Virginia & DACS RR
It was a lot of fun to watch this railroad. There was a lot of action with an interesting trackplan and lots of detail. There were also a lot of people there, so most of my photos contain crowds in the background! The mountain with tunnel exposed on the backside was particularly neat.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #6: Saint Mary and All Angels Railway
It was crowded here as the bus had just arrived, but they created a dramatic entrance with a bridge over the railroad. The railroad is very nice, with lots of great dioramas to observe and photograph. My favorite is the produce stand–I’d like to build something like this for my [agriculturally themed] railroad!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #7: Boxwood Scenic Railroad
I love the Southern Pacific so this was a favorite because of the trains! It’s also a great example of a mainline railroad that feels big, but in a small space.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #8: Colorado Railroad Museum
We’d never been here, but will have to go back someday with more time when they are running the fullsize trains! They have a huge, beautiful garden railroad in an incredible space with fullsize trains all around! There’s also an elaborate HO scale railroad in the basement.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #9: Cancelled
Unfortunately I didn’t read the notice about this in the convention materials so we drove there anyway, and we weren’t the only ones as several other cars were circling the area trying to find it. Finally we realized we did have the correct address and that there was a small note on the back fence that said it was cancelled.

 

Layout #10: JFF & FnE Railroad
To be honest this wasn’t my style of garden railroad as there wasn’t much landscaping, but there were lots of things to entertain the kids. And one thing I can admire is that it was absolutely pristine! I have to wonder if the rock was very new, or if they know something I don’t!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #11: Big Blue Spruce Railroad
This was a beautiful railroad in a nice yard. There’s an interesting track plan, plenty of detail items, lots of different textures and colors of plants of landscape materials.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #12: Unnamed RR
I enjoyed seeing the big modern mainline freight here, and my kids did as well (as this is what they are growing up with). This railroad is under construction but it looks great already! As an Espee fan, the UP patch on the SP Dash 9 made me laugh… and cry!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #13: Eastlake Loop Railroad
This railroad provided a good variety of trains, structures, and other details, with a place to sit and watch the trains go by. The connected train shed probably makes running frequently very convenient.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #14: The John Galt Line
With the modest tour book description of “this is our first attempt at a G-Scale train” I expected something pretty basic. Actually, we almost skipped this one (we did on Wednesday, but it was open again on Saturday). But this railroad was a pleasant surprise! Highlights include a really nice water feature, just the right amount of detail items (some humorous!), and a full-size ‘51 pickup to match the theme. The owners were exceptionally welcoming, and own an organic seed company, Botanical Interests, which we often buy!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #15: Colorado & Northwestern Railroad
You get started here seeing both sides (with a mirror) of a very detailed station building, and that’s just the beginning. There’s a variety of everything here, with trains meandering around the whole yard, pathways to along closeup views, and lots of variety of colors and textures with plants and landscape features.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #16: Denver, Superior & Western Railroad
This is a cute little railroad in a small yard. Unfortunately Murphy was visiting at the same time as us (and we had to leave first), but we got to admire the right-of-way with just about everything a railroad needs (including a nice scratch-built trestle and tunnel portal).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #17: The Red Rocks Route Railroad
We really enjoyed seeing the passenger trains, going opposite directions on a double track mainline. The water feature and bridges looked great too. The whole layout also seemed very well maintained.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #18: Rocky Mountain Railroad
It’s hard to pick a favorite out of so many railroads which are all so different, but this would be in the running for both Theresa and me. We both loved the elevation change and color across the hillside, and well done hardscape. And I loved the mainline trains with wide curves and excellent track work. The Mallet with the Harbor Models smoke unit is particularly impressive, especially as it went through a tunnel! The owners are also incredible people who I got to talk to more in the vendor hall at their Rocky Mountain Locomotives booth.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #19: The Cascade and Silverton
Indoor railroads are few and far between in this scale, and ones of this caliber are even more rare. It’s just incredibly detailed in every way. I’d compare it to Tom Miller’s “Little Colorado Railroad” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/benjaminshell/sets/72157624675162084), just in a smaller space. It’s very creatively stuffed into a basement, with a track going through the stairway! Everyone has different preferences though, as this was Theresa and boys *least* favorite railroad (too high up for the kids to see, and no garden for Theresa)! But there’s no question that as a model railroad this one is in a league of its own, and my photos don’t do it justice.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #20: Cherokee Western Railroad
This was our first stop Wednesday where we enjoyed the variety of trains (Mallets are always a bit hit with my 5-year-old) and the well-executed farm and village scenes. The rotary snowplow was also a highlight for us. I also enjoyed seeing two beautifully restored Model A Fords in the driveway.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #21: Tom’s Train World
This railroad line wraps around a large beautiful home. My photo coverage here isn’t very good because I was distracted talking to people, but I was attracted to some cool rocks (anyone know what kind they are?).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #22: Fort Walt Railroad
This railroad contains the only LEGO train in a garden that I’ve seen, but that’s just one of the many things to look at. My kids loved how you could walk everywhere, gaining unique vantage points, or just follow the ATSF passenger train around the perimeter. The owners’ dogs were friendly and fun for the boys too.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #23: San Miguel Southern Railway
This extensive railroad covers a hillside, with just about everything: well placed structures and dioramas, lots colorful plants, natural stone, and lots of track and trains. I also liked the storage shed attached to the house–I’d like to build something like this!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #24: Palmer Lake, Greenland, and Larkspur
As the only railroad one with a “train” to ride, it led my 5-year old to comment at every subsequent railroad: “maybe they’ll have something to ride!” There were also lots of nice scratch-built structures and bridges, and interesting things to look at everywhere. And the views from this large property were incredible!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #25: Cancelled

 

Layout #26: Cat Mountain Railroad
This was one of the best small railroads I’ve seen. It had everything a garden railway needs, and there wasn’t too much or too little of anything. It was a fun one to photograph! Also railroads with Shell gas stations or tank cars get bonus points.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #27: Colorado & Northern Pass Railroad
Wrapping around the yard, this railroad had action in every direction. And with lots to look at it seem to keep everyone’s attention. And I love always to see mainline passenger trains.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #28: Western Welcome Railway
This was a small railroad, at least compared to the yard, with three trains on separate loops. It appeared to be a newer railroad, but with many nice plantings and a few well-placed structures.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #29: Rosebud Railway
There’s nothing quite like this one. It’s definitely not my style, but there’s something for everyone. It certainly had the most action of any railroad we saw, and it was the only one with a train on the roof of the garage!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #30: Paulette & Bob’s World RR (P&BW RR)
I was tempted to skip this one because it was far from all the others, but I’m really glad we went! It’s a beautiful railroad, in a peaceful setting. Theresa and I both especially liked the stone arch bridge.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #31: DB Railroad of Germany
While I prefer American trains, that isn’t going to stop me from naming this one of my favorites of the week! Everything just looked great, with well balanced plants, structures, and an interesting track plan. It also helps that clouds came back, so my photos turned out better than at other stops of the days.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #32: D&J Shortline
This was a nice little railroad with a lot of drama in a small space. What’s not shown in my photos is that the yard was much bigger than the railroad (future expansion?).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #33: Colorado & Sparktown Railroad
This was basically two or three railroads in one backyard, with a distinctly different feel from one side to the other. Everything looked great, and “Sparktown” is the best large scale city scene ever!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #34: Gold Dust & Red Rocks Railroad
This is a large railroad with an impressive trestle, as well as lots of other bridges, structures, and trains. And the “Hyde Park Tunnel” was a clever pun, as it takes trains into the basement for storage.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #35: Drunkardville & Pacific Railway
From Mount Brewmore to Mount Drinkmore, this railroad was either appropriately named, or appropriately built! The more finished portions looked good, but the odd gaps in the track and roadbed left much to be explained! The only thing out of place is that right under the sign “Welcome to Drunkardville: No Public Sobriety” the bottle of Captain Morgan appears to be unopened!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #36: Petrified Progress Railway
As evident by only six photos (and not particularly good ones), I didn’t get a chance to visit this railroad very long. The boys were misbehaving so Theresa and I took turns running in to see it–unfortunately at the same time as the bus. But it was a nice little layout, with a particularly clever name.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #37: The Columbine Loop Railroad
My photos don’t show this railroad as I remember it, with a lot of different levels and pathways to walk around. There are lots of details and well-established plants too.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #38: The Curmudgeon & Saint Anita
I wish I could have stayed longer here to enjoy the MTH Big Boy with passenger train, but with such a tight schedule we only had a few minutes and for much of that time the train was stopped.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #39: The Continental Railroad
This railroad was spread across the hillside of a large backyard in a very nice neighborhood. There was plenty of action with three trains in the backyard, and a small front yard railroad too! The tour book mentioned a USA Trains Big Boy, however it was under a glass case on a table, with a GG-1 there too. (Apparently I’m the only one crazy enough to run my USA Trains Big Boy for open houses–I’ve been to hundreds of garden railroads and only ever seen them on display!)
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #40: Silverton Northern Railway
This was a beautiful rustic railroad in a beautiful remote area. (It was on a long dirt road, steep in some places!) There were lots of impressive scratchbuilt structures and even the trains themselves fit the theme with heavy weathering and kitbashing.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #41: Prospect Mountain System
This was one the most unique railroads we’ve ever seen, with along a fence, and up an insane grade to an upper deck! There were also O-gauge trains, mostly whimsical in design.  One nice detail Theresa pointed out was plywood cutouts of mountains on the fence. The host families were incredibly hospitable, and even let my 5-year-old run one of the trains. Unfortunately I don’t think they had many visitors because it was in Estes Park, more than an hour away from other layouts!
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #42: Blackbird & Dogfish Railroad
While walking in, another attendee commented to us that this railroad has EVERYTHING! They were right: everything, and more! My kids loved the numerous dinosaurs and various surprising finds on this whimsical European themed railroad.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #43: D&RGW, Ridgeview Division
I really enjoyed this layout which reminds me of a 4×8 HO scale layout… except much bigger with a nice spacious feeling. They were running some nice trains too (I like ALL trains, but admit to a bias for mainline 1:29th scale!).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #44: Clark Street Station
I ended up taking more photos here than at any other railroad–there was just so much to see! Theresa said it was her favorite because of the castle and some of the creative scenes, like a baseball game, an outdoor amphitheater, and rock climbers. My kids loved it for Thomas, of course. The whole railroad was just spectacular.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #45: The White Mountain and Pacific Railroad
I would vote this railroad “most fun to watch” with the whole thing going in and out of tunnels in a huge mountain range! And there were automated train operations to add to the excitement. I probably should have take a video instead of stills, but at this point in the day we were extremely rushed and not sure if we’d make it to the last few.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #46: The Great Southern and Western Railway
This was a large railroad with long runs with some unique details (e.g. chess players in front of a station) and well weathered rolling stock. I also particularly liked how some tree stumps were used in the landscaping (I asked, and they were actually brought in).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #47: Flat Rock Railroad
This railroad felt like it had a lot of depth, with a very dynamic feel to it. The bridges, trestles, structures, and multiple trains added to the effect, as did the lack of a clear railroad boundary. I liked how the stream extended under the pathway and into some bushes beyond the railroad.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #48: The Gardens on Spring Creek
It’s nice to see garden railroads in public venues like this botanical garden, however it was disappointing that trains weren’t running and there wasn’t anyone around. Still, the layout looks good and it is probably fun for the kids to operate with push at times when it’s open.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #49: The Snowflake Resort and Railway
This was the last layout of the tour for us, and it was a great one to end on. The kids were able to run around a little and enjoy the numerous fun details in this unique Florida themed layout, and Theresa and I were able to relax for a few minutes and not feel the pressure of getting to the next one.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #50: Red Cliff, Denver and Rio Grande RR
One of the unique aspects of this beautiful railroad was a storage shed that’s raised and freestanding behind the railroad, but decorated to look like a large hotel, and aligned so that it’s a great backdrop. Be sure to look at some of my other pictures of this one.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #51: Timber Lane Farm Museum
This wasn’t quite what we expected from a museum layout, but we were glad it was small and there wasn’t anything else open at the museum because we were running late! But this could be a great introduction to garden railroading if museum visitors get to see it running (the pile of boxes behind wasn’t very reassuring).
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Layout #52: BD&G RR
This railroad was a bit of a drive, but well worth it. It’s a great looking railroad wrapping around the back of the house and into a storage room. The owners were friendly and funny too.
See all the photos on Flickr.

 

Note: I also posted this photo report in parts, as I process and uploaded the photos, to a topic on the myLargescale.com forums

© 2013 Sacramento Valley Garden Railway Society | P.O. Box 276031, Sacramento, CA 95827

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