"Howdy Folks! Welcome to the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge, the gateway to Nature's Wonderland"

This is my documentation of my miniature re-creation of the long-gone Disneyland attraction: Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. This is a selectively compressed model railroad, in On30 scale at 5' X 7.5' that has been in progress since 2005; even after almost 10 years of work, it's still not finished.

I started the layout when I was a sophomore in high school with basic skills and over the years the layout has been improved and reworked in drastic ways to match my ever improving model making skills. In fact, since I started rebuilding the sections to better quality and standards, I've actually created a whole new layout, piece by piece.

This is a stand-by basis project without a deadline, so it tends to hit the back-burner a lot due to other things with higher priorities. But whenever I can, I'll give an update when there is something worth talking about. All of my updates since day one are here, which include photos, videos, and plenty of rambling notes and descriptions.




Progress Report: 1/10/09

Did some carving today:




Much better than the original papier mache versions. Studied the heck out of those formation through old photos. The amazing thing is is that these rock formations are still at the park today.

The aluminum sheets have been covered with a layer of Papier Mache (Paper towels dipped in 50:50 ratio glue and water). Still need to do a bit more and patch some areas (where the structures for the mesas/buttes use to be, before I decided to do them out of foam).





Gonna work on the 2nd natural arch bridge tomorrow! (The one that the train doesn't go through nor the mules go over)

Progress Report: 1/08/09

Sorry for the blurry photo, but the frame work has been wrapped in aluminum foil. This will help support the paper mache layer, so that the material doesn't droop between slats and holes.

Feels like some weird low-budget sci-fi miniature movie set!




Here's an "artsy" shot, taken from the tunnel to Rainbow Caverns:



Progress Report: 1/6/09

I've got the basic, rough form of the land forms built up; the new desert is starting to take shape. I still need to add the two mesas and a few other things then I can add the aluminum foil to start blocking in more details. At this point, I feel like I'm working on a Frank Gehry project...







Approx. 600 popsicle sticks have been used for the frame work (No, I didn't eat every one of them from a box of popsicles! If that were the case, I'd eat three, then resort to the heat gun. I bought a box of 1000 from Michael's, which should be enough)

You can also see the "show building", which will house the new Rainbow Caverns, made from some old sentra signs. The roofs pop off so I can access the inside, and will eventually be dotted with some miniature air conditioners and piping.

Progress Report: 1/4/09



With school starting back up in the next week (AHH!!) I though I'd get a big chunk of Nature's Wonderland worked on before the week is out. Before I know it, my free time won't be much soon.

The biggest part of the project for the week is the redo of the Living Desert and Rainbow Caverns. This started with a complete tear out of the areas last Thursday.






As I stared at the rubble after demolition, I felt like Tony Baxter tearing down the old Fantasyland in '83 and thinking "what have I done!?".

I soon pressed on, forgetting about the old desert, which wasn't much at all; just a bunch of painted yellowed newpaper paper mache (this is original stuff; from 4 years ago) and some mediocre balancing rocks.

I didn't miss the caverns either; A bunch of over-painted stalagmites and water features that can be significantly updated and done better. Also, the non-removable roof was a major design flaw, something that is a requirement in the future. I also want to change the layout of the water features, making it look more like the real thing; more specifically, like this shot:






I cleaned up, and got ready for re-grading the track.






Now I no longer have that annoying 90 degree cross! This allows for a smoother ride (for the miniature people of course!), a possibility for a two train operation, and its more accurate to the real thing.

Most of the Desert track loop stayed, the only brand new sections are the grade from the trestle to the top of the new tunnel, and from the bottom of the Balancing Rock Canyon, and through Rainbow Caverns to Rainbow Ridge.






Just for kicks, here's the same angle, but from December of 2005:





Both of those shots were taken from the top of Cascade Peak (quite a good tripod if you ask me!)

Despite the new and steeper grades, the train chugs up the hills without a problem, which was a major concern for me. In addition to that, the train now runs a lot smoother, thanks to the extra electrical contacts in the trailing mine cars. (I only electrified two cars even though I was planning on 6 cars to pick up power; I changed that once the two worked well and discovering that installing pick up shoes is a lot of work!)

For the next week, I will be creating the new rock formations and land forms, but mainly starting on a foundation of popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, paper mache, and celuclay. I will soon be back to where I was before the tear-out.

Hey, if Walt can redo his desert in 1960, why can't I, right?

This time, I took more time in researching and figuring out where everything goes (something I didn't do when I first built the layout) It may not look like much, but here is my plan of action at this point.





(The yellow represents the new sections of track, the red represents the old/current track)

In other, more "constructive", news, the new fleet of mine cars are complete, and I am pleased by how they came out.






At the time these shots were taken, the coupler pockets on the cars were not painted, neither were the drawbars.

A close up of one of them: