Miniature trains capture history

Three-year-old Adam Archuleta from Azusa chases the model trains around the perimeter of the Garden Railway at the Fairplex Sunday. This is the 91st year of the Garden Railway. Volunteers organize events and maintain the model throughout the year. The Garden Railway’s most active time is during the Los Angeles County Fair, when the club has about 40 trains running. / photo by Celine Dehban
Three-year-old Adam Archuleta from Azusa chases the model trains around the perimeter of the Garden Railway at the Fairplex Sunday. This is the 91st year of the Garden Railway. Volunteers organize events and maintain the model throughout the year. The Garden Railway’s most active time is during the Los Angeles County Fair, when the club has about 40 trains running. / photo by Celine Dehban

Melissa Gasia
Assistant Editor

The Fairplex Garden Railroad showcased their outdoor miniature railroad exhibition that covers different periods of Californian history from the 1850s through present day for an open house Sunday at the Fairplex in Pomona.

These handmade replications of a railroad consisted of more than 10,000 feet of operating tracks, and featured various long trains and trolleys running as children were waiting on the side of the tracks for the locomotives to pass by.

The children were allowed to get down right next to the operating trains as they moved along the tracks and watch every piece of artwork at a close view.

“I wanted to take the little grandsons to see the trains,” Moreno Valley resident Karen Ward said.

“I just think it’s amazing in the detail they have in everything.”

Last year was the garden railroad’s 90th year at the Los Angeles County Fair.

It was established in 1924 as a simple diorama by a shop teacher and grew over the years as the volunteers took it over in 1997.

“We think this may be the oldest and possibly largest garden railroad of its kind in the world,” Fairplex Garden Railroad coordinator Rick Bremer said.

It is Bremer’s 14th year as a volunteer and fourth year as a coordinator.

Volunteers like Bremer are seen around the garden railroad operating the machines to run the trains smoothly, maintaining the place and accommodating guests with their questions.

There are about 75 volunteers in the garden railroad as part of the creative department of Fairplex.

“The buildings, little scenes and the details are made by volunteers and we have a leadership team,” Bremer said.

All the trains running are also owned by volunteers, so the railroad keeps growing every year.

Bremer said the locomotives’ prices range according to their different styles.

Some are about $250 a piece, so a whole train set with 15 pieces could cost around $3,500 depending on its quality and value.

“It’s pretty cool,” Moreno Valley resident Ryan Schroeder said.

“The whole set up, the whole buildings they have. It’s pretty much an artwork that they deal with for they have the mobile little scenes.”

Their big show occurs annually during the Los Angeles County Fair.

Visitors will have a chance to see all the scenes out, unlike on the public runs, with multiple trains running at the same time.

The fair attracts more than 1.2 million guests, so the Garden Railroad crew fully prepares to make the exhibit shine for this special event.

The Fairplex Garden Railroad will continue to operate the second Sunday of the month or during any special scheduled events.

It will be open to the public with free admission for a public run and a family day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Melissa Gasia can be reached at melissa.gasia@laverne.edu.

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