Since the early 1800s, trains have captivated the collective American imagination, conjuring up dreams of freedom and the ability to bring economic prosperity to the country. Celebrate the history and magic of the railroad at Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s “Garden Railway” exhibit that runs daily through Friday, Aug. 31. The track includes approximately 450 feet of curves, bridges and plants in addition to the trains. It is set up in the Friendship Garden.
Today, garden railways are a fun way for train enthusiasts to enjoy outdoor model trains year-round.
“Alex Schleyer, who is a garden railway enthusiast, came out to the garden and did a presentation,” said Sheila Hanrick, director of marketing and events for CFBG. “He wanted to set up a garden railway out of the kindness of his heart, so people can see how garden railways can be done in their own backyards and the way it has been made to look as if it has always been there.”
In a video on the garden website, Schleyer explains the installation process. “We used the actual process that real railroads do. The track is large enough that it requires drainage … (and) it requires ballast to hold track.”
Now that the exhibit is open, there are several opportunities to expand on it and to draw in the community to enjoy it.
Hanrick added that individuals would never know that it was just laid down for a temporary exhibit through August.
“We will continue to add things throughout the summer,” he said. “There will be a day in July where we will have pedal cars that individuals can ride through foot power along a dirt path. We hope to incorporate a program with the Transportation Museum to get them out here to talk about how railway transportation changed agriculture for the United States. At that point, crops then could be transported across country. We are planning a whole lot around this train exhibit to get folks into the garden, find out what is here and just enjoy this beautiful setting.”
While encouraging everyone in the community to come out, Hanrick said CFBG staff is especially excited to see children. “If children want to bring their little superhero or miniature toys, Alex, our conductor, will certainly let those toys go for a ride,” Hanrick said.
CFBG hours of operation are Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. The last daily admission is 4:15 p.m. “Garden Railway” merchandise is available for purchase.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, $9 for members of the military and senior citizens, and free for children ages five and under. It is also free for individuals with a garden membership.
For more information, call 910- 486-0221.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.capefearbg.org