Building the Cranberry and Linville River Railroad – A Journey, Pt. 3

Many a Good Plan Goes Astray

With plan in hand I began to make the roadbed. Having a GCGRS rail-raising at the home of the Griffin’s I was familiar with making roadbed with the 2X6 pressure treated lumber. While attending the Columbus Garden Railway Association’s annual layout tour I discovered an alternative to using the 2X6 method using a two splines joined by wooden spacers ever foot or so to create roadbed. Using this method the spline was bent to the appropriate radius and then screwed together to lock the radius in place. The roadbed is then mounted to stakes to level the track or create grades and then filled with ballast and dirt before laying the track. I completed one loop of the two using this method, but while I liked the appearance more than the 2X6 it was very difficult to get the desired radius and was not as durable so the second loop was the tried and true 2X6 method. The 2X6 method consists of pressure treated lumber joined by a 10” gusset plate. Curves are created by cutting the 2X6 at the appropriate length and angle for each radius. The templates are available for download at This method creates a strong and durable roadbed. Railroads using this method have been in place since the 1990s are still in good shape. Some warping does occur. However, the track can be shimmed to compensate. In our area, the roadbed can “pop” out of the ground during freeze and thaw, but the roadbed rises as one piece and settles back nicely in the spring. With track laid on both loops the trains were running…well sort of. I used the Aristocraft rail joiners but did not use any conductive paste. After the first winter quite a few of the rail joiners failed and I had numerous conductivity issues. Our current railroad was build with LGB joiners with conductive paste and 14 gauge solid wire jumpers. (Since then we have switched to battery power but maintain track power for visitors using rail clamps where needed.

Don’t Let the Rain Come Down… 

The first garden railway was built in the backyard of our yard behind our bi-level house. Since our house was a bi-level, our garage was in the basement and our driveway had about a four – five foot rise to the street from the garage floor. We began to notice that during heavy rains, the drain in the driveway would back up. After the city repaved the street eliminating most of the curb in front of our house more and more rain would come down our driveway to the point where the drain could not handle the rain and it began to backup into our garage and then into our house. After a couple of wet basements we called RotoRooter to determine why our drain wasn’t up to snuff. The “gator-cam” revealed two areas in the drain tile had collapsed requiring replacement of the drain tile back to the storm drain. The builder used the corrugated plastic drain tile instead of spending a couple more bucks for the PVC. $2600 later we had a patch in our driveway, a new pipe and a ditch going back to the back yard. While the Rotorooter guys were there I asked them to dig my pond. Even with the new pipe every time it rained we worried. The city wouldn’t do anything about the drainage issue. We decided to move to higher and drier ground. So up came the track, and the wood went into the trash. I rented a tiller and leveled everything out and planted new grass.

Moving On Up!

 After looking at one house, we decided we wanted to build instead of buying an existing house. After looking around Walton and other areas, we settled on a lot in the Richwood area in Heritage Trails. Heritage Trails was started in the late 70s and actually was one of the first Homefest sites. There were several what we call Brady Bunch houses. In the 80s, the subdivision extended and then again in the 90s. We built our house and moved in 1999. Meanwhile, the Greater Cincinnati Garden Railway Society bid and was awarded the 2005 National Garden Railway Convention. That would give me two years to make plans and get the yard ready to begin construction in 2001 giving me 4 years to get the railroad ready for the convention.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

It seems that the Long Island Garden Railway Club was planning to host the 2002 garden railway convention until they found out the accommodations could not be provided at a reasonable cost (rumor has it that organized crime was involved, but I’m not saying so). They approached the GCGRS to see if we could step in and host the 2002 convention instead of in 2005. Uh-oh, now instead of two years to get ready and 4 years to build my new railroad I had one year to get ready and only two years to build. YIKES! Time to get busy.

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