For 2013 there are ten garden railways, two of which are new on the tour, as well as annual favorites, many of which have been expanded or have added features or scenes since last year. This year’s layouts are located primarily on the west side of Tucson and you can visit all venues as often as you wish.
Yesterday, I visited one of the venues at the home of John Carmicheal. John has been a sculptor of sun dials for over 20 years, but he is new to garden railroads. In his front yard is a labyrinth of rails, bridges, tunnels, depots and other features among a variety of cacti, primarily cholla and prickly pear. Laid end to end, John’s railroad is longer than a football field. His trains are “G” gauge, which is much larger than the more familiar “HO” scale. John explained that the model trains have to be larger for outdoor operations so that small objects, such as a leaf or pebble, won’t derail them.
One has to be a serious railroad hobbyist to develop and operate one of these garden railways. I could not help asking John what I would have to budget to replicate something like his layout in my own gardens. He explained that the layout I was watching took him 14 months of near-full-time effort, including design time. He also told me that I should budget at least $10,000. WOW! Given the precision & complexity of this garden railway, I was surprised that it wasn’t more.
The Tucson Garden Railway Society will again be collecting donations (cash or check only) for the Community Food Bank. Also, they will raffle off a railroad-themed quilt, the proceeds of which will go to Ronald McDonald House.
Funds raised by tour ticket sales help fund the Society’s projects at the Tucson Children’s Museum, Tucson Botanical Garden, the Diamond Children’s Center, Tucson Medical Center, Veteran’s Administration and modular displays at various locations throughout the year.
Tickets cost $5.00 per adult and there is no charge for children/teens 18 and under when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Tickets are good for both tour days and all venues. Each ticket includes entry into a drawing for a complete “starter” train set.
Click HERE for local businesses where you can purchase tickets.
Click HERE for a map of each garden railway on the tour.