Minnesota Garden Railway Society


Welcome to the world of Minnesota garden railways.

What attracts us to this branch of the hobby? The memory of children’s books depicting small animals living in tree trunks behind little doors and windows? The urge to run a real steam engine?The disenchantment with building small-scale models with almost invisible detail? The longing for living foliage instead of lichen and real rocks instead of plaster-covered cardboard? The search for a hobby we might share with a spouse?

Many challenges face the backyard empire builder. Dealing with heavy dirt and rock, lots of it. Kneeling and squatting to lay track and maintain plantings. Putting up with weather and creating a layout able to withstand rain, snow, wind, dust, sunlight, frost, critters, and weeds. Closing the railroad most of the winter.

But offsetting these challenges are many rewards. Large scale trains, easier to handle and detail than their smaller cousins, also have a certain mass and presence that you don’t get in small scales. They move through a living environment, under the sky and sun, in light which changes from hour to hour and month to month. If you wish, so much can be real: a real steam engine pulling cars built up board by board with real nails and bolts, running over bodies of real water on real steel or concrete bridges, past real rock cliffs, through fields of real greenery or flowers. Steel will rust naturally, wood will weather, paint will peel. You just don’t have to fake as much.   

And instead of holing up in a basement railroad room, it’s pretty darn nice to spend summer hobby hours outdoors. Especially in Minnesota.

Our “club layout” at the Historic Wayzata

Depot is ready for another summer of operation. The layout is a joint project of the Wayzata Historical Society, the City of

Wayzata, the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, and the Minnesota Garden Railway Society. Many of our members have donated time, materials and models to build the layout. You can visit it anytime -- trains are always running weekends.

And you can see some great videos of member’s layouts here.