Live steam comes in many sizes, from very small to very large. Grand Scale railways, generally classified as operating with 12-24” gauge track, are popular with zoos, amusement parks and private operators throughout the world. Locomotives and rolling stock are usually large enough to ride inside, rather than straddling on top with smaller scales. Our program takes you to three fine North American examples of Grand Scale!
Whiskey River Railway - located in Marshall, Wisconsin, at Little Amerricka amusement park. The park and 16” gauge railroad were founded in 1991 by the late Lee W. Merrick. After departing the station, trains leave the park rides behind as they pass through a long tunnel and enter a rural landscape that includes domestic farm animals plus zebras and other exotic creatures. Also on site is the Merrick Light Railway Equipment Works, which builds and restores locomotives and rolling stock. Four steam locomotives operate in our program, including 4-6-2 Pacific #1919, which was built here.
Redwood Valley Railway - this 15” gauge railroad is perched high above San Francisco Bay near Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1952 by Western Pacific mechanical engineer Erich Thomsen. We see two locomotives in steam plus dramatic scenes of fog drifting along the route through stands of towering redwoods. All four of the railroad’s oil-fired steam locomotives were built in the Redwood Valley shops.
Milwaukee County Zoo Train - two steam locomotives built by Sandley Light Railway Equipment operate on this 15” line built in 1958. The line is a continuous loop which takes passengers around the beautiful grounds. The Zoo operated an extra-long train behind fast-moving 4-6-2 #1924 in honor of our visit. We also catch a little action with diesel #1958 in Milwaukee Road colors.
“Grand Scale Steam - Three Miniature Railways” is available from Yard Goat Images on DVD and Video On Demand!
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Steve Mitchell, yardgoatimages.com
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