Large Scale Central

Mountains from Mole Hills

When I staked out the boundary for my current layout, there was a large relatively flat area at one end. This is now the location of the Rico yard that I described in a previous post. There was still a big open flat area in the middle after I put in tracks around the perimeter. Until two weeks ago, this is where I burned tree trimmings, brush and leaves. There was never much there except piles of ashes and a few mole hills.

I needed some type of view block to separate the Rico yard from the rest of the layout. I wanted some logical reason for the broad sweeping curve in the track. But most of all, I wanted the layout to look a little less like Oklahoma and a little more like Colorado. I decided to change the flat open area into a mountain and canyon scene.

Here is what the area looked like last month when I moved in some big rocks (also described in a previous post.) You can see the burn area in the center.

Over the past two weekends, I have filled in the area with an additional sixteen yards of dirt and seven tons of rock. I contoured the material into two separate ridges with a wide canyon between them. Here is what it looks like now. Who says you can’t make mountains out of mole hills?

I’m just now starting to plant trees and ground cover on the new terrain. The taller conifer trees are a mixture of Dwarf Alberta Spruce and Eastern Red Cedar. The shorter conifers are various junipers; varieties include Blue Star, Blue Rug, and Shore Junipers. The red cedars grow naturally in my yard. I used a couple of Dwarf Japanese Holly and Green Mountain Boxwood shrubs to represent deciduous trees. Ground covers are predominately sedum and thyme varieties. Here is the view looking down the canyon between the two ridges.

And here is the view from the other end, looking up the canyon. In the foreground is the temporary 24-foot long PVC bridge where my RGS main line crosses the mouth of the canyon. A long timber trestle will go in here, somewhat representing the long RGS Bridge 45A at the Ophir Loop. A bit further up the canyon is the temporary PVC bridge where my CC&R branch line will cross the canyon on a 4-foot long timber trestle.

I planted a row of temporary daylilies along the front edge of the layout at the mouth of the canyon to hold the soil in place until I finish the trestle. There is a row of creeping speedwell (veronica) immediately behind the daylilies to keep the weeds at bay. After the trestle is built and installed, I will remove the daylilies and allow the speedwell to spread under the trestle and right up to the edge of the layout. The sedum and thyme ground covers on the long ridge behind the bridge were planted last spring and have spread out considerably. I used a variety of juniper, cypress, holly, spruce and boxwood shrubs along the ridge top to provide visual separation between the RGS main line in the foreground and the CC&R branch line on the other side of the ridge.

One of the things I like about rocks is the natural coatings of mosses and lichen.

I need to stop the earth moving projects for a while and let the sore muscles heal a bit. Unlike some of you who have Bobcats and other toys, all I have is a shovel and a small cart I pull behind my riding lawn mower. Besides, the wife says I need to build her a gazebo next before I put in more track. And you know the number one rule for successful garden railroading – keep the wife happy!

More to come later,


Nice work, Bob… Looks to be a fantastic railroad as you progress…

What a huge difference. Looks so much better. Those rocks do look good with their various flora already growing on them. I’ll be looking forward to your trestle build, it’s going to be big. I guess you’ll have other projects in line first though. Good luck on the gazebo!

Nicely done Bob, I like the way the daylilies look. Like all the spruce trees too.

Very nice!


Looking good! (

Very nice site transformation Bob.I look forward to watching progress

That sure is a lot of rock! Nice work.

That’s impressive! Very, very NICE! (


This is shaping up very nicely. please keep us posted with new postings as you make changes.


I hope the track goes in as easily as the mountain did ! (

Looks very nice!

You’ve gotten an astonishing amount of work done, it looks fantastic, and I really envy you all that land! Keep us updated.