Visits to other Model Railroads and Real Railroads

The members of our Train Society enjoy traveling around and visiting other model and “real” railroads. We also enjoy museums and places of interest related to the model railroad we are creating. Below is a list of places we have enjoyed. Model Trains to visit are highlighted in orange, real trains in green.

Day trip from Fort Bragg:

Sacramento Railroad Museum: A magnificent railroad museum. The new section on the upper floor devoted to model trains is awesome. The museum is in Sacramento Old Town which is an interesting place to look around. The old Wells Fargo bank is really neat. Look at the statue on the east side of the main street in old town – it appeared in the last scene of the film, “The Postman

North from Fort Bragg to Eureka – stay overnight – a long weekend is best – up 101 – no traffic after Gerberville. Stop for coffee and bagels or an organic breakfast in Gerberville before going to Scotia. Scotia is the home of the Pacific Lumber of Company and outside the museum (open only in the summer) is a Heisler. The Scotia Inn is built totally of old growth redwood and the dining room is worth a visit just to see the redwood paneling.

Next visit the Avenue of the Giants. Standing among these 370 feet tall Coastal Redwoods truly is like being in nature’s cathedral. Park headquarters and the Visitor Center are located on the Avenue of the Giants, State Route 254, between the towns of Weott and Myers Flat. The visitor center has a small really interesting museum including the motor home of Charles “Birdman” Kellogg.

Stop at Ferndale for the “Painted Ladies” – beautifully restored Victorian Houses. Try tea in the Blackberry Café there – great berry pie – neat shops. End up in Eureka – great bagels and lox in old town and whilst you are there visit Fort Humboldt. This museum is one of our main sources of information on old steam donkeys and yarders. There are over a dozen of them on display. There are two working 0-4-0 steam locomotives which run on a short piece of track. Check the web site for details of running times. In the middle of town is the Clarke Historical Museum. Located in an old bank it contains a fascinating insight to the early 1900’s in and around Eureka. Of particular interest is a superb collection of baskets woven by neighbors of the Pomo.

For a taste of how the loggers used to eat go over the bridge from Eureka to the Samoa Cook House. The Samoa cookhouse is on a rise. At the bottom of the cliff on which it sits are two large white buildings which are the home of the Timber Heritage Association (THA). The Timber Heritage Association refurbished the two locomotives at Fort Humboldt. Inside those two buildings are the largest collection of logging locomotives in California (we believe). Alas, none of them run (although one is being restored) and the collection is open to the public infrequently – check their website for details. But if you want to stand beside a two AND a three truck shay then this is THE place for you.

Sacramento – National Summer Steam-up *Amazing* Gauge 1 and Gauge O model live steam event! FOUR tracks available (one 110′ long!) 18 hours/day! It’s probably impossible to have more fun than this! Click here to be directed to the event web site. Click here to see what our members enjoying themselves at the 2011 event. The Sacremento Railroad Museum in Old Town is a must see. There are very few Model railroad stores left. One of the best is R/C Models in Sacremento. The last time we were there they had an 8 foot long jet plane hanging from the ceiling (for sale – we know it’s not a train but…..) in addition to a very large selection of G Scale trains.

San Francisco Area – a day trip from San Francisco:

Tilden Park in the San Francisco East Bay Area offers a beautiful ride through areas of the park’s woods on a ride-on model steam train. Click here to be directed to the park’s web site for steam train hours. The carousel is also worth a visit.

Richmond Model Trains: Very large O scale, HO scale and N scale layouts. Open at weekends. Click here.

Walnut Creek Model Railroad: This HO model train layout is not open to the public very often. Check the web site for details. It is a great layout. In one hour the layout goes through a whole day. At night all the street lights come on. In the afternoon there is a very realistic thunderstorm.

Whilst in San Francisco there are three other non railroading worthwhile stops. First the Bay Model, this is working model of the tides in San Francisco Bay. The second is the California Science Museum. And last is the Exploratorium.

Sunol: Spring time is THE time to visit Niles Canyon. The flowers here provide Kodak moments by the score. They have a magnificent collection of steam engines and also the M300 railbus which used to ride the rails from Fort Bragg to Willits when it was part of the Skunk Train roster. Vist the web site.

Further away:

Felton – Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad. Not only do you get to ride a steam locomotive up a hill you can see a working steam powered lumber mill and civil war enactments. Whilst you are here you can take a train to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Route 49Route 49, as in 1849 the year of the Gold Strike, is the home of the mother lode. Along this road is the California Mining and Gem Museum where you can experience what underground gold mining is like. At Jamestown you can pan for gold and more important ride a steam train that has literally been in hundreds of movies. Route 49 takes you to Kings Canyon Sequoia Park. The giant sequoia here are real rivals to the Redwood Empire’s Coastal Redwoods. At the “bottom” of Yosemite you can find the Sugar Pine Railroad. Book in advance and be here for a Saturday evening steak barbeque and train ride behind a steam engine into the Sugar Pine forest – it is called the Moonlight Special and is pure magic.

Southern California – take 101 south – much nicer (if much slower) than Route 5. On the way south stop at Monterey Aquarium – buy your tickets in advance because there are LONG lines to get in. A visit to the Steinbeck Museum is well worth the detour. Forget Disney keep going till you get to San DiegoSan Diego Old Town is definitely worth a visit. Park and take the trolley there. The trolley is known as the Tijuana Trolley and really will take you to Tijuana in Mexico. The San Diego Wildlife Park (NOT the zoo) has a great monorail – alas the trolley does not get you there. It is near La Jolla north of San Diego. Also in La Jolla is another great place to visit – the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The Scripps is a much better aquarium than Marine World. Balboa Park in San Diego, which you can reach by trolley, has lots of museums. Our favorites are the Science MuseumAir and Space Museum and, of course, the San Diego Model Train Museum which is one of the premier model railroads in the United States. It is in the basement of the Photography museum. Look for the shark in the pool!

Nevada – a days drive from Fort Bragg – stay in Reno – go during the week – hotels are much cheaper. On the way to Reno visit the Western Pacific Railroad Museum. You can learn to drive a train here. There are two railroading places of interest. The Nevada Railroad Museum is in Carson City and close by is the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. When in Reno you may want to visit the Reno Car Museum.

Southern Oregon – Train Mountain Railroad Museum Located in Southern Oregon on over 2000 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest in Klamath County, the home of Crater Lake National Park. It currently has 69,900 feet (13¼ miles) of 7½ inch gauge mainline track and 133,250 feet (25¼ miles) of total track, which includes yards, sidings, and connector tracks.

A long way away:

Chicago. First visit the Chicago Museum of Science+Industry – The Great Train Story. This layout cost $6 million! Computers control 30 trains wending their way from downtown Chicago to downtown Seattle. . Next go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and see the Model Railroad Garden outdoor exhibit which uses model trains to link miniature representations of America’s best-loved landmarks, and colorful small-scale gardens.

Colorado – You want a week of railroading ? Then Colorado is the place to go. If you are going to “do” one scenic railroad in the USA this is the one – the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a scenic wonder. When in Colorado there are six other great railroads to visit. In Leadville there is the Leadville and Southern Colorado. Near Denver is the Georgetown Loop Railroad. In Denver there is the Colorado Railroad Museum the home of a Galloping Goose and a great HO model layout. At Cumbres you can climb aboard the Cumbres and Toltec for a whole day trip. You can ride up Pikes Peak on a cog and rack railway. And, last but not least, there is the Royal Gorge Railroad If you really are into railroading you can visit the Nevada Northern in Ely, Nevada en route from Fort Bragg to Colorado!

A really long way away:

Bekonscot, England. Bekonscot Model Village and Railway is the world’s oldest original model village. It’s a tourist attraction near London, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. It was opened in 1929 and it’s a great place to bring the family and stomp around like giants! There are six model towns, a huge Gauge 1 (G-Scale) model garden railway, ride-on railway, remote-controlled boats, castles, lakes and industries in 1.5 acres of gardens.

Bekonscot has a super website. I recommend the history section (it tells of Queen Elizabeth’s visits) and the section on the layout. You can even build your own virtual layout on the site. Want to ride the six scale miles of track at Bekonscot? Click here. If you are in England or going to England definitely add it to the old bucket list.

Pendon, England. This is probably the most perfect prototypically accurate model railroad in existence. It is in Pendon, England As it says on the web site, “At Pendon we recapture scenes showing the beauty of the English countryside as it was in the Inter-War years. We do this through the medium of detailed, accurate and colorful models constructed to the most exacting standards.” By exacting they mean they literally build models which replicate the original brick by brick, cabbage by cabbage. And we do mean cabbage by cabbage – it is that detailed. The model of the church is a magnificent piece of art.

Bluebell Line – The volunteer-run Bluebell Line was the UK’s first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation for posterity of a country branch line, its steam locomotives, coaches and goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices. Member Tony Phillips grandfather (a master bricklayer) spent much of his retirement refurbishing the flint walls along the route. One of the largest collections of working (and to be restored) trains in England is to be found here.

Wunderland - Hamburg Germany

Hamburg, Germany – It IS a long way but it IS worth it to visit the largest model railroad in the world. It is called Miniatur Wunderland Check out the video here. You need the WHOLE of one day to see and appreciate this layout so make sure you get there when it opens. If you cannot afford to go check out these photos from member Tony Phillips’ vist there, an these videos of Miniatur Wunderland on Youtube.

Darjeeling India – None of us have ever been there not even for a cup of tea but ….. we sure do want to go. It is the home of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. We built a model of one of their steam engines because of our fascination. You can read about the model and the story of the railway here.