The hobby of garden railroading is undoubtedly one of the world’s great pastimes in terms of wide appeal and depth of endeavor. Its many facets make it attractive to people of diverse and varied backgrounds and interests. It can be practiced in a superficial way as a mere diversion or it can be made a life’s work in much the same way as music and art.

And, in many ways, garden railroading is art in the truest sense. The serious garden railroader pursues it with as much passion and tenacity as any artist. The creation of a garden railway must be approached with the same sense of design and composition that makes a successful painting or sculpture. The resulting garden and railway are reflections of the personalities and beings of its creator(s). And the results of the garden railroader’s labor must be addressed with the practiced eye of the experienced observer for complete understanding.

The idea of what makes a fine garden railway is as subjective as that of what makes a fine painting. Just as there are many styles of art, likewise are there many styles of garden railroading, each as valid as the next. These styles are mostly unnamed, as the hobby is still in its infancy in many ways. However, none of these styles emerged spontaneously. Each is the result of years of hard work, careful thought, and the influence of peers. The garden railroader picks and chooses appealing elements from the work of others to incorporate into his own work. Nothing is created in a vacuum. Through this process, distinctive styles emerge.

This book explores what I consider to be the most important aesthetic considerations on a garden railway. It is not my intention to get into garden-railway design, construction, or maintenance—only the appearance of the railway is addressed here. While all of the opinions expressed are my own, I did not, by any means, invent them all. They are the result of observing hundreds of garden lines in the USA and abroad; of closely examining them to determine what works visually and what doesn’t; and of countless conversations with other garden railroaders all over the world on the topic of what makes great garden railways.

Perhaps the greatest single influence on my own views is my wife, Barbara, whose unique and perceptive vision as to what a railway garden should be colors all of my own thinking on the subject. The clarity of her ideas definitively describes the gardening aspect of the hobby. Largely because of her work, railway gardening has become an important and integral subhobby of garden railroading.

And finally, I’d like to thank my friend Vance Bass for reviewing the rough manuscript of this work and offering cogent and thoughtful suggestions for improving it.

M. Horovitz
Denver, Colorado
October, 1997


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