We recently visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It was my birthday, but my husband got the gift because we discovered one of the 37 speciality gardens is the Model Railroad Garden. Being the train fanatic he was like a kid in a candy store.

Set up over a 7,500 square foot area, the Model Railroad Garden showcases 18 different-sized model trains, ranging from toy-size to sophisticated G-scale (garden-scale) model trains. The trains run on 17 different railroad tracks (totally over 1,600 feet of track), over bridges and through tunnels. The train tracks are grouped in several different settings titled Landmarks of America, complete with replicas of dozens of famous buildings or landmarks. Miniature trees, shrubs and people, all intricately made from natural materials, add to the composition and sound effects to complete storybook-like settings.

The famous curves of Lombard Street (complete with a car driving down the hill), a miniature cable car and the iconic San Francisco houses showcase the Santa Fe train speeding by.

Pikes Place Market is Seattle's original farmers market established in 1907. In the photo below miniature town citizens watch as the Santa Fe passes by the market stores. Despite its name, the Santa Fe railway never actually made it to Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The SS Natchez, the New Orleans paddle wheeler with its pine cone paddle wheel, floats on the Mississippi River as the Amtrak train flies by.

Three houses depict the French Quarter in New Orleans as the Amtrak and Rock Island trains speed behind them. The Rock Island train line was important because it initially connected Chicago with the Mississippi River.
An impressive Baltimore and Ohio train travels in front of the White House where Marine One is stationed. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the most important railroads in the history of the mid-Atlantic region rivaling the Pennsylvania Railroad.

A replica Lincoln Memorial has both the Baltimore and Ohio and Chicago and Northwestern trains rumbling by it. At its height, the Chicago and Northwestern railroad operated over 12,000 miles of track in seven states.

George Washington's home of Mount Vernon shows the Baltimore and Ohio train passing behind it.
Independence Hall has a miniature Liberty Bell in front of it with the Illinois Gulf Central train in the background. The Illinois Gulf Central train was called the Main Line of Mid-America with its primary route connecting Chicago to New Orleans.

The Statue of Liberty has the same Illinois Gulf Central train in the background.

Mesa Verde National Park complete with the Sun Temple shows a Pennsylvania Railroad freight train steaming by. The Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the U.S. for the first half of the 20th century, acquiring over 800 other rail lines and companies.

Napa Valley has the  Napa Valley Wine Train traveling past the miniature vineyards. If you plan to visit the Napa Valley area soon, think about booking a multi-course lunch and train ride through the wine country on the vintage-restored Napa Valley Wine Train.

The famous Hollywood sign sits behind the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed, Mayan-revival-architecture Charles Ennis house as the Illinois Gulf Central train speeds by. 

There are several other Frank Lloyd Wright-designed replica houses in the garden such as...

Taliesan West in Scottsdale, Arizona
Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania
And his home and studio located in nearby Oak Park, Illinois.

Also in the Hollywood theme is Graumann's Chinese Theatre with the same Illinois Gulf Central train.
With Mount Rushmore in the background, the Pennsylvania Railroad freight train steams by the Mitchell Corn Palace.

A working Cape Cod lighthouse has a miniature iconic VW bus sitting in front of it with the Rock Island train about to cross over another twig bridge.

The Baltimore and Ohio train speeds past Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home in Springfield, Illinois. This photo shows some of the meticulous planning that it took to put this garden together with the railroad tracks crossing each other and two other "twig" bridges.

Another of the "twig" bridges...

U.S. Cellular baseball field...(husband's team)
And of course, the north side baseball team's park complete with the famous rooftop apartment buildings (Go Cubbies!).

The Chicago Botanic Gardens are FREE to enter.
Visitors must pay to park, but military veterans enter FREE.
Many visitors bicycle to the gardens.
Learn more about the beautiful gardens here.

Thank you for visiting,

 A Great Europe Trip Planner 

All photos were taken by me during my visits to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in August, 2015.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.

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