"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 September 2005. In May of 2016, I finally got the layout to a point where I declared it "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.

May 2010 Update

Since it seems like I'm doing mostly monthly updates recently, I've changed the titles of the last few months to reflect the month they were posted.

Cascade Peak

Just after  I posted the last update, Cascade Peak got it's... peak.

The peak was actually quite easy to do, it was a very basic shape, but getting it's size right in proportion in relation to the rest of the mountain was a bit tricky. The next phase was to do another pass of celluclay to get areas I missed or make any necessary revisions and also add more of the finer details. Once that all set and dried, a coat of paint to sealed everything and the real fun began with the vegetation and waterfalls.

Speaking of water, in the foreground I attempted to patch up various pieces of plywood that were added to expand the layout, trying to get a smooth surface for when I put down the water. Unfortunately, the wood grain and the seams (with different thicknesses of wood) are ending up being more work than I expected to sand down and smooth out, so eventually I'm just going to throw down a piece of masonite for a dead-flat surface for painting and pouring the future Envirotex Rivers of America.

Also, in the background you can see a backdrop for the NWRR. No, it's not the official backdrop for the layout, it's just a quickie one I did with some blue paint and a big sheet of masonite for when I shoot some photos/video in the coming weeks so I can hide some clutter and unwanted areas.


While Cascade Peak had it's last bit of celluclay dry, I started playing around in the Living Desert; I got one step closer to getting working geysers.

A few months ago I had a really bad sore throat (Tonsillitis!) and went over to Target to get a new humidifier to help alleviate it. I got one, and as it turns out, it's an ultrasonic one ( unlike the fan and filter ones I've been use to). Since it was suggested, I've been trying figure out how to get an ultrasonic mister to work for a geyser for the layout, through the use of containers, piping, and fans; it would have been trial and error to get it as efficient as possible. Enter the humidifier: it had exactly what I needed; an ultrasonic mister that outputted adjustable mist, but kept water contained-- all done efficiently and with a stylish look!

Rather than lay down and rest my throat, I immediately started pulling out pieces of PVC piping and other bits of assorted tubing to test the limits of this humidifier. I was very surprised with the amount of power it had and the volume output of the mist (it's not really mist, more of fine vapor, like steam). I plugged a length of PVC with four holes to represent geysers, and even through it wasn't at full blast, each "geyser" was putting out a good amount to be called a geyser.

Fast forward to a few days ago (now that I don't have tonsillitis!) I began playing with it again, and this time tried it with 1/4" tubing on the last leg after the mist leaves the 1 1/4" PVC before it actually goes to the geyser. I wasn't expecting much to come out since the 1/4" tubing is pretty much too small, let alone over a foot of it--but, to my surprise, a good size column came out! Again, this wasn't even at full power and I still got a good effect, doesn't really need to get any taller IMO. But, the 1/4" tubing has it's problems-- condensed vapor drops obstruct the tube easily after running less than a minute. No problem, just need a larger, shorter tube, and have it positioned so gravity does the work in getting condensed water out.

Video of my quick and dirty demonstration.

I'm not quite 100% signed off on this solution, but it's a step closer.

Painting Cascade Peak

When it was ready, I began starting to figure out paint styles for Cascade Peak. The color and value of Cascade Peak is extremely hard to match, as both of those aspects seemed to vary from picture to picture I look at. I couldn't use the same method to paint the peak as I did with the Living Desert because it's a different look.  After several samples of different base coats, different washes, different color "temperatures", and different highlight values, I might have found a somewhat satisfactory paint job. I started with a warm gray base coat (Valspar "Rocky Slope"; can't get anymore appropriate than that!) and later gave it a dark brown wash. Once the wash dried, I dry brushed the entire mountain with an off white.  As I did with the Desert, I'm developing a color scheme that's close enough and one I can reproduce easily for patch jobs later on.


When Cascade Peak was finished painting, it was time to add it's signature element: waterfalls. I've had experience making waterfalls before, The Cascade Peak before had them (at least on one side) and while they were good at the time then, they just didn't have the realism that I wanted. 

I came across this fantastic tutorial that uses clear sealant for model waterfalls and they look spectacular. At this time, Model Railroader Magazine featured an article where someone made there harbor scene with DAP Crystal Clear silicone caulk. Intrigued, I went over to Lowe's to get some of this Caulk (luckily they had a buy-one-get-one-free deal!) and I began to experiment. I followed the tutorial pretty closely and I adapted and changed a few things and added some extra steps for the maximum effect. This was my first result:

Extremely satisfied, I proceeded to making the other 13 waterfalls that adorn the rock formation. I completed a full set of waterfalls, Big Thunder falls:

Ballasting and some greenery has moved in also (the trees are temporary though). 

A lot of people don't notice the small waterfall offshooting from the larger falls (even I didn't notice it until recently) so I made sure to include it this time around.

"Twin Sister Falls" cane next (the first time these falls on this side have ever been modeled!)

Since this is such a valuable technique for a lot of model railroaders, I decided to make a video showing exactly how I did it. 

The riverbanks along Cascade Peak are slowly getting some scenery. Tall grass mostly, which unfortunately is a slow and tedious process. (The photo was taken before I vacuumed the trimming I did)

Anyone want to guess what this area could be for?

Just a little scenery sample for Pack Mule trail along the backside of Cascade Peak.

On a rather sad note, those who visit Disneyland today will notice an old friend is gone: the very last of the Mine Train fleet has been removed from the track around the former Cascade Peak. The removal was part of the refurbishment of the Rivers of America which included sprucing up the plant life and adding faux animals (which notoriously become targets of badmouthing amongst the Disney fan boards). The Cascade Peak track looks nicely restored along with the rigging that was use to raise the intake screen for the Cascade Peak pumps. It's a shame the train wasn't restored as well.

Although it got removed, word on the street is that it was sent to the Disney archives for storage. Whether or not it will be restored is unknown, but at least it didn't got the way of the other ones ( cut up and put in a land fill).

I had the chance to photograph the train years ago, on a photography class assignment in 2007. I can't remember what the project was, might have been the final, but I recently started scanning some of the negatives (yes, it was film) because some of the shots were surprisingly good despite being taken by high schooler. So, here are two now rare photos of the last of the NWRR fleet: