Tucson Garden Railway Society’s Railroads in the Garden

Robert Thoresen

Here was an opportunity to use a camera to photograph miniature objects. The Tucson Garden Railroad Society builds outdoor layouts and modular large scale model railroads at their homes that feature waterfalls, mountains, mining centers and towns populated with scaled models of people, animals, automobiles, bridges, residential and commercial structures. Some of the setups feature special time periods, humor and fantasy. The society hosts an annual Rails in the Gardens open house tour with at least a minimum of eight member layouts open to the public. It has been an annual event since 2004 and is held on a weekend in the early part of March. PCQC members car pooled on a Saturday morning to the Foothills north of Tucson’s River Road to get their shots taken from nine backyards, many with exquisite views of surrounding Tucson and the Catalina Mountains. A telephoto lens was not a necessity but members had to expect to get their knees dirty. Some of their results from the day’s photo shoot are included.

After shooting most of the displays that Saturday, members were off to the second highlight of the day, lunch at the Skybar Restaurant and Sports Bar at the southern edge of the Foothills at River Road and Craycroft. The place is loaded with high definition televisions all tuned in to the same University of Arizona basketball game. Beef and chicken sandwiches run $9 to $13. Salads are the same. According to Matthew Nowotny, who paid a visit around the first of the year, “The food and atmosphere are great. My waitress was amazing. Best of both worlds—atmosphere and a sports bar.” One can’t say that those criteria hold true for everybody, but a good waitress is always appreciated.

For Quail Creek residents with a passion for American Flyer and Lionel sets you might consider joining The Tucson Garden Railway Society. It is a 501 [c] [3] nonprofit organization with the club supporting construction of permanent model train layouts in the Tucson Children’s Museum, the Diamond Children’s Medical Center, The Tucson Botanical Garden and the Tucson Medical Center. The group also sets up nonpermanent layouts at the Pima County Fair, the Veterans Hospital, Old Tucson Studios and the University of Arizona’s Children’s Festival.