Rural Missouri - August 2012 - (Page 32)

N E I G H B O R S Locomotives in the landscape Mark Hann takes his love of model trains outside to the garden by Kyle Spradley I n 1985, Mark Hann was given only 16 months to live. A tumor was spreading through his brain, and the doctors feared the worst. Amazingly, Mark prevailed and 27 years later, you can find him just about every day in his backyard hard at work in a tiny village. Mark’s 32-foot-by-12-foot oasis in O’Fallon is a miniature world of plants, people, homes and an example of a growing trend with hobbyists — garden railroading. “I’ve always loved trains and enjoyed gardening,” says the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative member. “It’s such a great combination of both.” For generations, hobbyists have constructed layouts of trains scaled down from their life-sized brothers. Most layouts include elaborate manmade landscapes of towns, buildings, bridges and roads with features such as streams, hills, canyons and a wide variety of lighting effects. Some will spend days, if not years, working to perfect their minuscule worlds to appear as natural as possible. Garden railroaders get to add an extra dimension of realism with living plants. For as long as Mark can remember, he has been into model railroads. He built sets down in his basement and enjoyed collecting different loco- most hardware stores. motive engines and cars. In the long run, Mark Ten years ago, he decided to take his hobby to says this is a cheaper the next level and move it outside. route than indoor “I began seeing in magazines people setting up Take a ride on one of layouts because real trains outside,” says Mark. “So I decided to try it.” Mark’s trains in a video plants and rocks are He began construction with a retaining wall in the online edition at cheaper than manto create a platform for his railroad’s two sets of made pieces. tracks. After leveling the surface, Mark’s palette Another plus side to garden railroading is more was ready for his creation. space outside means larger trains. Garden railThe design just came to me,” he says. “I like to roaders typically use trains that are 1/29th the size just wing it. That is what is fun to me. Whatever of real trains with locomotive engines that run looks good, I try it.” almost 2 feet in length. Typical HO engines The 54-year-old incorporated a used for indoor sets run less than a foot. few town scenes into the landscape, A question Mark often gets is, “How including a country farmhouse and does it do with the weather?” barn with livestock, a train station, O’Fallon • “Honestly, I don’t have to do anywater tower and a gas station with thing special,” he says. “The tracks antique cars. Several figurines dot the and everything make it through the setting, which is filled with plants, rocks winter just fine. Of course, you have and other natural landscaping. occasional cleaning, but it all deals “Most of the plants I use are miniawith the natural elements well.” tures, so they are to scale with the trains, Mark admits that building a fully people, buildings and cars,” proclaims Mark. landscaped layout takes time and patience. The He adds that using real plants makes the scenes true test of his perseverance for the hobby came look more lifelike, unlike the normal, interior four years ago when a fire destroyed his home train boards that must use fake plants, greenery and garden railroad set. and rocks. This does mean more maintenance is “The whole back side of the house fell right required, but for those who love to garden and on my layout,” says Mark. “It was sad to see it go. get their hands dirty, it’s a welcome chore. Luckily, some of my trees made it and are still a “I have several dwarf part of my layout today.” Alberta spruces out there Mark says the garden railroad trend is growing that are 8 years old, but as more hobbyists are looking for something new. only 2 feet tall,” says “It’s just so amazing to see it run outside Mark. “Each year, I prune amongst the real plants compared to what you them to keep their miniasaw as a kid under the Christmas tree,” says Mark. ture shape.” “Remember, it is still a toy, so have fun with it.” The plants Mark uses came from local nurserMark welcomes any of those interested in garden ies. He adds that many of railroading to contact the Gateway Garden Railroad the species are not hard to Club by visiting or to give him a call at find, require little upkeep 636-240-8350. and even can be found at Left: A train on the center line of Mark Hann’s garden railroad layout travels through a trestle and past two dwarf Alberta spruce trees. Mark has trimmed the 8-year-old live trees to stay in scale with the model railroad. Above: In 1985, Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given only 16 months to live. Twenty-seven years later, he spends most of his days working on the garden railroad layout in his backyard. 32 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2012

Rural Missouri - August 2012
Table of Contents
Exploring yesterday today
Forget 10,000 casts
A hundred years on the hunt
H2O & Go
Hearth and Home
Out of the Way Eats
Bloody August
Around Missouri
Locomotives in the landscape

Rural Missouri - August 2012