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April 9 - December 31, 2011

All aboard!  Cheekwood’s latest outdoor exhibition, Trains!  Tennessee in G, is delighting visitors of all ages.

Travel back in time to the days before Europeans arrived in America.  When the Chucalissa Indian Village flourished on the banks of the Mississippi River in what is now the City of Memphis.  Fast forward several hundred years, and you'll find yourself in the U.S. Southwest Territory, where pioneers such as Daniel Boone, John Sevier and Andrew Jackson took their rest at Rocky Mount.

Cheekwood is taking its visitors on a trip across the State of Tennessee and its fascinating history.  From 20th century landmarks, like Elvis Presley's Graceland, to Pulitzer Prize winning author Alex Haley's boyhood home in Henning, to those daging back several centuries, nearly two dozen replicas of the state's most famous landmarks will be on display in our model garden railroad.  Seven trains will be running all day, rain or shine, along lines that include the Tweetsie Railroad, the Southern Crescent Passenger and Ladybug Train.

Young or young at heart, train buff or garden lover, you will be fascinated with the exhibit’s incredible architecture, landscapes and realistic effects. Each building has been intricately handcrafted using natural materials, including twigs, bark, leaves, acorns and pebbles

Over 2,500 tiny trees, shrubs, groundcovers and flowering plants in 250 varieties create the landscape for the train, complete with a waterfall sure to capture visitors’ imaginations. It all seems to come to life from the pages of a storybook, down to the tiny people and animals.

Our display uses G-scale trains, models made many times smaller than full-size locomotives. The trains are made of brass, stainless steel and plastic, and specially designed to safely operate in rain, snow or other wet conditions.

About the Trains/Garden Railroad History 

Garden railroading began not as a hobby, but as a planning tool in mid-19th century Europe, when builders of full-size railroads began making scale models to test track layouts and entice investors. Toy makers translated these business tools into marketable hobby products, and began promoting model and toy trains. Most people didn’t have the space to house an indoor railway, however, so the models were built and positioned as outdoor hobbies. As time passed, new trends pushed the garden railroad out of popularity. 

By the 1920s and ’30s, the American Flyer Company had all but stopped advertising their trains for outdoor use. Garden railways became almost unheard of through the 1950s and ’60s, but in the 1970s, they began to regain popularity in the United States.

Today, several large American companies make trains for garden use. Visitors across the country delight in thousands of garden railway installations each year, making it the fastestgrowing
piece of the model train hobby industry. Although garden railroading has changed over the past 100 years, the influence of 19th century’s
model railway craftsmen can still be seen, even in today’s more sophisticated displays.

Created by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination




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