"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.

November/December 2011 Update: Full-Speed Ahead

Geysers in Motion

Changing gears from the paint pots prototype that didn't work out, I proceeded to work on the mechanics that would control the geysers. Using the same cam wheel and lever design as my previous animation controllers, the new mechanism would require a larger space to operate in, due to range of motion required by the geyers rods themselves. The water columns are suppose to come out of the ground roughly 4-5", and retract fully into the ground. This fairly large movement requires large cam wheels to control them, unlike the marmots and elk that only move about 1/2" each way or less.

The mechanism was designed based on the speed of the motor, which would time how fast the geyser columns come out of the ground, pause, and then retract into the ground. When I was cutting and machining the cam wheels and figuring out the timing, I pulled out the cam wheels used on my 20,000 Leagues Project as a test. These disks were used to control the motion and timing of the divers in the shark attack scene. To my surprise, the motion produced by these disks turned out to be near perfect for this project and so I ended up using them as is for the geysers! Part of the 20,000 Leagues project relives in Nature's Wonderland!

When the mechanism was ready, I installed the geyser themselves, consisting of the acrylic rod with Mod Podge and the styrene containment tube. The styrene tubes actually sink down past the original masonite layout base and into 3" of void space from the frame that was added when I retrofitted the layout last September. (The combined height of the two empty spaces, from the frame below and the elevated scenery, dictated the height of the geysers).

To add a dynamic effect at night, the geysers were rigged with white LED's that shine upward. Since the geysers are clear acrylic rods, the light fills the whole rod like a fiber optic and looks spectacular at night.

The rockwork scenery that provides a backdrop for the geysers and paint-pots has been neglected along with the rest of this corner for some time. Since the layout rotated during my studio revision during the summer, this corner is the first thing you see when you enter the room. Unfortunately, the view isn't pretty, with the exposed backside of foam rocks, and a countless wires from the circuit board to the relays that was put in.  To really fix-up the rockwork, and totally clean up this corner, I had to install the first piece of fascia on the layout--starting here. With a few pieces of masonite, I cut the contours of the rockwork and screwed in the piece (over the nicely-stained frame below-- Oh well!). This piece created quite a bit of space between the rockwork and the masonite for scenery; it wasn't until now that the "end" was defined and the scenery on the hill behind the rockwork can finally be put in. The void space was filled with aluminum foil and my favorite "miniature concrete" aka Celluclay was poured over the surface as the base for scenery.

Since there is quite a bit of electrical including LED's, relays, and many other wires yet to be installed below the rockwork, I cut "windows" into the masonite fascia so I can access the circuits and also create a neat viewport for showing off the complexity of the wiring. "Worklights" were also installed so I can swap out relay's easily or trouble-shoot wiring without trying to hold a flashlight.

The faux spur line leading to the tunnel was created using scrap track. This time it came together perfectly; unfortunately, it took four versions to get to this one!

Also at this time, the speaker for the Living Desert was installed. This speaker will broadcast sound effects that will include coyote howls, geyser spurts, tumbling rocks and blowing wind.

When the geysers were operational and the kinks worked out (at least for now) a piece of masonite provided the ground level and once again, celluclay was used to seal everything off.

The geysers themselves were remade out of foam, much more accurate overall than the previous sculpey one's used in testing above. 

Also getting remade are the paint pots. Since the mechanized version was abandoned in favor of a simple-- just detailed-- static one, foam was carved to create the new paint pots. These ones are the most accurate depiction of the originals thus far. Once they were sealed, enviro-tex was used to "level-out" the liquid surface, which would be painted in the respective color of each paint pot. The paint job and color scheme is much better this time around. 

Scenery work jumped to on top of the tunnel as greenery starts to take shape. Several pine trees will line the hillside. Here you can also see the geysers painted and the paint pots piece being placed. On the left rockwork is starting to cover the right side of the tracks for the first time. 

Unfortunately, there isn't enough room (by about 2"!) for a strip of track to represent the Santa Fe & Disneyland RR. While this is a selectively compressed layout, there just isn't enough space between everything for it to feel natural and not squeezed. I guess it'll have to be something in the backdrop!

Once the ground-cover went in and set, the colorful swirls once again appeared. 

Next year (Ha! next year...) a video will be put up showing off the geysers. 

Farther down the track, at the bend where T-rex bones will bake in the sun, is the nasty junction where countless wires and the two sections of the layout meet. On top of that-- no pun intended-- is the Mule Trail which leads to Natural Arch Bridge. In order to "clean-up" this area, more masonite fascia made it's way over here to hide the mess. The left photo shows the bundles of wire exposed and on the right a streamlined look at the same area. 

Let there be light! Part 2

While areas of the layout are getting scenery and greenery, another aspect of the layout is given a second look: Nighttime lighting. 

When I started installing the lights for night operation, it gave the layout a whole new dimension. This was all done with incandescent 12V lights. While it was neat when I started putting the lights in, it wasn't until installing the geysers I knew they could be better. 

With the geysers came the LED's to illuminate them. I was impressed by their vibrant-ness that made the incandescent bulbs look quite dull. At the time of the installation of the incandescent bulbs during the summer, I didn't really have much experience with LED's until a few experimental projects that made me learn a lot about them. Considering the transformer running the lights was getting overworked by too much power being drawn, I decided to go bold and ditch incandescent lighting and go LED. 

While it was a bit painful having to tear out the bulbs already installed, it was helpful that wires were already run to those locations. Once I dialed in the right resistor for each LED, the results were very satisfying; much more brightness and color than what was achieved before. It was well worth the rework. 

This corner of the Living Desert is the first section to go full-LED. Newer sections will follow suit, while previous areas already rigged with lights will be a hybrid of both kinds of lights, like Bear Country, for example.

Bear Country Lanterns

Speaking of night-time lighting, I decided to "plus" the tunnel portal at Bear Country a bit. 

A few months ago I was doing a night photography session at the park and I took this photo of the said tunnel. 

I thought the lanterns added another layer of  dimension not only in the photo, but also the Bear Country environment. These would make a neat addition to the layout! 

Using LED tealights that I got from Target for a few bucks, I stripped off the LED's and wired them onto the night-light power line. I wired the two in parallel so the flickering is a little smoother. 

They came out pretty good. The video is dark, but it shows their flicker well. 

As cool as they are, when I started doing research for the trestle truss, I realized after looking at early photos that the lanterns were a later addition and were not part of Nature's Wonderland when it was open! Oh well, screw accuracy on this one, I'm keeping these!

Still on the subject of LED's and lights, the first block signal went in; this one is at the geysers. There are four in total, and will allow two trains to run independently and not in each-other. 

Getting some "Support"

Meanwhile in Bear Country, the trestle bridge that hadn't had any supports or truss-work ever since the track was relayed almost two years ago finally got what it needed.

Built out of balsa and basswood strips, this is the most accurate trestle to-date, with this one being the 3rd incarnation. I had to do my own drawings in order for it to fit right in the tight confines of Bear Country. 

Here's the truss in position for a test fit. You can tell how tight everything is over here. Although shorter in height and length than the prototype, it doesn't look too bad!

Rainbow Ridge: Back to the drawing board... literally. 

After being ripped out and left vacant and untouched for two years, the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge took it's first step in progress. The new Rainbow Ridge will have an emphasis on details and accuracy, and order to do that properly, drawings as accurate as possible will have to be made. The first set of elevations have already been drafted, with more to come. 

Once they looked fine to me, they were reprinted and pasted onto card with spray adhesive for mock-ups to give me a better idea of how they'll look. 

So far, that's only half the town! 

October 2011 Update: Back to the Living Desert

EDIT 10/21: I've added to this post since it was initially published; scroll down to see more!

On the eve of the layout's 6th anniversary on Sept. 25, I thought it was time to get something done. While Bear Country and the other forest sections are progressing on the west side of the layout, over in the opposite corner, the geothermic area of the Living Desert has been on hold for some time.

This area was spruced up and rebuilt after the Big Redo of Winter '09 when the whole desert was elevated to accommodate the underpass to the caverns.

Since then, ideas of having animation, spurred after adding movement to Balancing Rock Canyon, to the geysers was always something in the back of my head.

For some time, the acrylic rod and spider-web material looked pretty good, the only thing that it was missing was movement. In February of 2010, I figured out a way to make air powered geysers that worked by means of a pneumatic actuator.
"I was initially thing of using a screw type with a motor and bolt, but I later figured out a way to do it with pneumatics. I started playing around with a few short lengths of small brass tubing and an aquarium air pump (the ones that are about 2-3 psi) to my surprise, it actually works quite well, more than enough power to push up a rod of plastic (I might even be able to power all the geysers off of the same pump).
I built a prototype and I've been playing around with it, adjusting the amount of air pressure, location of overflow holes, and a bunch of other things. Basically, with my brass tube pneumatic actuator, when the air pump is turned on, the column rises, when power is off, column falls. I can control the amount of air pressure by using a dimmer switch on the air pump (a 3-way gang with adjustable valves is probably ideal). Since it's all aquarium equipment, it's virtually silent, aside from the very slight rumble of the air pump. The next thing to figure out is making the column fluctuate and vary in height, probably with a valve on a cam."

While the prototype worked at my work table, the main issue was the size of the mechanics involved; in order to have the acrylic rod fully retract and have the actuator, the overall unit would have to protrude down several inches-- almost a foot if I recall-- into the table below (and my 20,000 Leagues Project, namely the squid fight scene).

Another issue with that prototype was the idea that the whole layout would become portable and break into two parts, thus scrapping that plan.

I went back to ultrasonic misters for my next idea. This one seemed promising due to the fact that it didn't go beyond the dimensions of the table, namely through the bottom. A few days of tonsillitis revealed my next idea-- an ultrasonic humidifier.
"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.

The humidifier did look really good in the video, but as I studied it more, the effect was something hard to look at without the proper lighting all the time. What the moisture would do to the scenery besides attracting more silverfish, concerned me slightly, and visually, this solution did really do it and it was scrapped.

Earlier that same year, the Devil's Paint Pots were also looked at for potential kinetic energy. Digging right into the scenery, I started experimenting:
"I've also been looking at making the Bubbling Mud pots actually bubble. The basic premise here is to make tube full of water, and adding an air line to make it bubble like an aquarium. I built a few prototypes right in the scene, and so far, things haven't been that successful. Since I'm using 1/4" tubing, the water tends to get sucked out of PVC pipe mud pot when the air pump is shut off, and controlling the amount of air flow to get the right bubble interval isn't easy. Plus, in some tests, I found that the bubbles weren't popping easily (maybe the painty water that I used did that). I'm still working it out, and this element might need to end up being static."

 At the same time, I tried to get more "authentic" with the faux turnout at the "mine tunnel". In theory all I had to do was splice in an Atlas turnout and it would look a lot better than what I had before. In the end, all it did was roughen up the curve and kink it out of shape. The turnout is also too wide and shouldn't have been put in at all in the first place. My mistake. After that failure, this corner of the layout sat untouched while the rest of the layout expanded with progress, abandoned with unfinished ideas and effects that didn't work.

Fast forward to a month ago. A trip to Lowe's reignited my interest in geyser animation with their fog machine. While I did already have a fog machine, what intrigued me with this one was it's dimensions; if I wanted to use it for the geysers like the ultrasonic mister, it can fit perfectly below the surface of the scenery, without protruding through the table the layout is sitting on (remember, the layout has to be portable ). I bought the fog machine and began experimenting. Despite it's ideal size, the results from the fog machine were hard to achieve because in order to have the fog come out that tiny hole at the geyser, the container that the fog and machine would be in would have to be perfectly sealed-- which doesn't help when the machine needs to breathe with all the heat it generates. This fog machine also produced an oily film from the fog, despite using water-based fluid, which was something I didn't want to deal with when it comes to maintenance. So, while it excited me at first, like the ideas before, this one was scrapped.

While trying to brainstorm various ways to get geysers to materialize, one idea kept appearing-- or more appropriately, reappearing-- the acrylic rod. The very first geysers always looked the best visually, it was just getting them to move that was the tricky part. After numerous sketches, I found one that looked very promising and ended up being the simplest one.

As in the video below, the acrylic rod is contained in a styrene tube while in the down position. When the geyser "erupts", a thread pulls the acrylic rod up from it's base. The water column-- with an appearance like the Enchanted Tiki Room's "Enchanted Fountain" at this point-- drops when slack is given in the thread.

A few coats of Mod Podge gave the rod a more organic look. At night, a bright white LED illuminates the water column from below. Cool!

It's not quite as "airy" as the first static ones, but I think the motion of them bursting out of the ground will make up for that. 

EDIT: 10/21

While looking over reference shots of the geysers, I noticed that three of the four spewed quite a column of water. The fourth, however, was a little different. This one had more of a "spray" appearance, and was not as "persistent" as the other ones. It was on most of the time, while the others varied in hight and this one stayed constantly at the same height.

When designing the mechanism to control the geysers, I thought this smaller "spray" geyser could use a different approach, since it had a different appearance and performance. While I could use a little fluff material to represent it, a little movement would help it fit in with the other geysers, which are bobbing and fluctuating. So far I've come up with a very thin rod, wrapped in spider-web material (which is very abundant this time of year). The rod is on a motor, which spins at a fairly moderate speed. Haven't decided on whether to use it or not, but it looks pretty neat.

Meanwhile, still on my experimenting kick, I took a look at the mud pots. After the mess with bubbling painty water, I took a different route and instead of actually using liquid, I decided to simulate it. Using a piece of rubber from a dishwashing glove, I cut out a disk and glued it right onto the original prototype and gave it a coat of paint and mod podge.

In the test footage, it looks pretty good, so I proceeded to build the mechanics to do this. 

With all the things being thought of and requiring a substantial amount of overhaul work, the only time to really get them done was at the same time. So when I was ready to install the geysers, mud pots, and a new stretch of track, I ripped up what was there leaving a gaping hole. Doing everything now reduces the amount of stuff I need to replace or rebuild (which I'm sick and tired of doing). 

Above left is the hole cut into the scenery and entire chunk removed. That chunk was on a piece of particle board which made any renovations such as this one difficult. A jigsaw changed that. At right is the new piece of flex-track, perfectly smooth with no kinks or bumps like the mish-mashed track before it. 

On to the mud pots, I had to figure out the position of each colorful bowl mainly so I could determine the mechanics orientation, but also so I could be accurate to the real thing. In the past, I simply made up a composition of the Devil's Paint Pots, a sort of random pattern. This time around, I actually studied the real ones from numerous photos and drew up a map of the cluster. This map made it easier to determine which mud pots I would animate and which ones would leave static. 

The actual mechanism would consist of my usual cam and lever operation. Basically, the cam would slowly push down on a lever, raising a rod to push up on the bottom of the rubber disk-- giving the illusion that a "bubble" is rising to the surface. A notch in the cam would release the lever, dropping the rod, creating the illusion that the bubble "popped". Below is the mechanism in action, before the "surface" was put on top.

When the mechanism was finished, I cut a piece of masonite for the ground surface and the mud pots themselves. The ones that would actually be working have a piece of PVC pipe to support the rubber disk. After cutting the actuating rod to the proper height, I glued down the rubber disk.

After doing three of these, seen below (two of them have a test coat of red paint), I let the mechanism run for a while to break-in. However, even after a few hours and few tweaks, the overall effect just wasn't that satisfying, after many adjustments; every time a bubble "popped" if made a loud clack noise, which is the sound of lever dropping. The sound can be dampened with a piece of foam, however at the cost of having the visual illusion diminished. After sound dampening the three I had, the minimal movement of the mud pot bubbles made this little project  seem unnecessary; was it really worth it to have these barley noticeable tiny "bubbles" that raise no more than a 1/16th of an inch?

Not really, at least at this point. I've changed gear and I'm working on the geysers. Maybe if I find yet another solution, I might try. For now, Devil's Paint pots project is shelved. Who knows, I might go with what I predicted when I did the first prototype-- might make them static and just look good. 

August 2011 Update-- Or Lack of Update...

There won't be anything for the August update, many because nothing really happened. I haven't had the time lately to do considerable progress on the layout, as I'm in the middle of a major studio renovation, which includes the dismantling of my 20,000 Leagues under the Sea project directly below the layout. When my work space gets back in order over the next few weeks, work will return to the Wonderland, hopefully. There are a few things I've got cooked up for the layout on the horizon, one of which is a very promising solution for animating my geysers, something that has been long-time in the making.

July 2011 Update

Wires, wires, wires

After going through many design changes, I'm proud to say that I got my block relay system put together and up running successfully.

All the wires for every block and every signal run to the back corner near under the geysers. This is where all the relays turn on and off sections of track, depending on which reed switch was toggled, as well as the appropriate light signals for each block.

Originally, I tried to wire and solder everything in place in the back corner in tight confinement, like so:

Messy and unorganized wires....
That lead to problems in keeping everything organized and hard to maintain if I wanted to replace a relay or make changes.

To keep things clean and easy to maintain, as well as build, the new layout for all the relays and wires was done on a separate piece that I can work on my desk comfortably.

...clean and organized wires. 

The end result was a "plug-in" to the layout by adding jumper wires from one terminal block to another. This has been the most complicated wiring project I've ever done. Despite it's complexity, using different colored wires and planning everything out carefully made the construction go smoothly. In case a relay  craps out over time, it can be replaced easily thanks to pin sockets, as opposed to having to de-solder the leads and resolder them again. 

The big relay with all the orange wires is the "override" relay; usually, when there is a red light, the train will stop since it's power is cut off; with the override on, the train can still move despite another relay trying to keep the block off, which is mainly for testing or if a reed switch doesn't trigger to clear the block. 

All the wires for the layout, whether it be light, sound, animation, block controls, throttles, power lines, turnout motors, etc, run down to the front of the layout, and will eventually connect to a control panel. This control panel will be built to look like the ones used on Disneyland attractions. That still requires planning when I have everything ready to connect (since I don't want any add-ons later), but for the mean time, this is what it looks like, all 30+ wires... 

Yes, everything is labeled
Let There Be Light! 

Almost two years ago, as I was making modifications to the track, the night-time lighting for the Living Desert had to be re-adjusted. Rather than embedding the lights into the ground again, I decided to make "light towers" like so below:

Original lighting package for the Living Desert.
They seemed to work when I added them, but for some reason, the the blue-white LED's just didn't have the right feel, despite having color gels placed in front of them. The christmas tree lights just weren't cutting it for me. 

Perhaps the main reason they were doing it for me was the fact that I keep referring to me very first train layout:

A 4 X 5' miniature Disneyland. 

Between 2004 and 2005, I built my own miniature Disneyland out of cardstock and acrylic paint, surrounded by a loop of HO snap-track. While crude when I built it, as I was 14 at the time, the one thing I really liked about it nowadays was the night-time lighting hidden within the buildings. Using 12V incandescent lights and color gels, I tried to light all the main structures like the real counterparts at Disneyland. It worked really well and it was a lot of fun to operate the train and look over the layout in the dark. The 12V lights gave a nice warm glow to everything as opposed to the blue-white, cold LED's.

A blast from the past: my model railroad before Nature's Wonderland
circa early 2005
If I wanted to replicate that feeling of that model on my NWRR model, I had to use the same techniques I used over 7 years ago. 

I ripped up all the LED's that I had embedded, as well as the light towers, and I began running wires for the new 12V lights. Once again, I will be using color gels to set the mood of the lights to match the scenes. 

Nature's Wonderland at night is a difficult thing to determine since there is hardly any recollections or photos to get an idea of how it was lit. As usual, if there isn't any reference, I have to take some artistic license. 

When it comes to how the model will be lit, Rainbow Ridge will have it's buildings lit up from the inside, as well as a few lanterns on the station platform. The Living Desert will consist of warm colors, like red, orange, and yellow, while the forrest areas and Cascade Peak will get cool colors like blue and green. The choice of the warm colors from the Living Desert is inspired by how Big Thunder Mountain (on my old model and the real thing) is lit with orange flood-lights. The use of cool colors for Bear Country and Cascade Peak, came from real Bear Country pond at night, when illuminated with a blue light at night. 

Since a lot of wires had to be imbedded in the scenery, the lighting had to be done before anymore work can progress on the scenery (since I don't want to redo any more stuff!). So I had to do it NOW. 

The basic process for installing lights starts with making the enclosure for the "grain-of- wheat" bulb out of aluminum and adding the appropriate color gel. The light is installed in the scenery, whether it be concealed in a rock, hillside, or even in a tree. When the light was tested and everything looked good, it was secured in place and the wires were run to it. These wires are either drilled through scenery or will be covered later.

Here are lights for Bear Country, all attached and ready for patch-work which will include a layer of celluclay and scenery. A few trees and shrubs and it'll be hard to notice. 

Here's what the layout is looking light now, in all it's night-time glory. About half of the required lighting is already installed-- about 25 bulbs-- with more to come. Since I mainly work night shifts, installing lights during the daytime is a challenge when the position of each light needs to be tested.  During the installation process, I've blacked out the windows of my studio to overcome that obstacle and utilize precious time.

Photographing the night-time isn't easy, especially if you're trying to replicate what it looks like in person without being too dark or too blown-out. 

One of the difficult parts to lighting the layout, from a design perspective, is hiding the lights. Normally, when lighting an attraction, the lights are hidden in bushes, rocks, on rooftops, etc. The problem is, this isn't a real attraction, it's a model that will be viewed from above, and not from the train itself. So it becomes a careful balance of lighting the scene like the real thing, but also keeping in mind of how it will be viewed from above and from several different angles. 

June 2011 Update

A new photo for the Aerial shots post (see the links at the top). Much of the future Rainbow Ridge and Rivers of America area looks a little cleaner, thanks to a little paint, applied in preparation for the OC Register shoot last March.  

The Sound of.... Sound

Since the layout started construction almost six years ago, it was mainly a visual art. Now for the first time, you can also "hear" it.

While it was still easy to route wires, I decided to run lines for speakers to be incorporated into the layout to broadcast sound effects for each of the different areas. Such sounds include waterfalls, creeks, animals, geysers, townsfolk, and just ambient sounds.

Last winter I bough a bunch of inexpensive iPod speakers from Target that I could disassemble and customize so I can hide speakers in the layout and have the sound input be accessible. To have the sound playback, I'm using the tried and true CD player, two of them in this case. By taking advantage of the stereo quality of CD's that created four channels, each player having a left and right speaker. So this creates four different sounds that can be implemented in four different areas on the layout.

"Hacked" CD players that will run the sounds of Nature's Wonderland.
The wires will run to a custom panel that will control both players at the same time
The four sound channels or "zones" as I call them lie in four areas: Cascade Peak, Bear Country/Beaver Valley, Living Desert, and Rainbow Ridge. The sounds of Cascade Peak include the rumble of the waterfalls with the sound of the Mark Twain's whistle and bell sounding off every 10 minutes or so as if it were passing by. Bear Country and Beaver Valley features sounds of the creek and ambient bird chirps. Animals that fade in and out include the bears, beavers and battling elk-- all sounds from the original attraction. Over in the Living Desert, the sounds of coyotes and geyser spurts can heard, as well as crashing and rumbling rocks from Balancing rock canyon. Rainbow Ridge will have one speaker installed in the Saloon where sounds of the piano players and rowdy townspeople will be heard.

All of these sounds are being mixed in GarageBand, and compiled onto one 1-hour track on CD. Each player will have two areas being played simultaneously

All the audio tracks being mixed in GarageBand
Right now, there are two speakers installed in Cascade Peak, Beaver Valley/Bear Country and two need to be installed in the Living Desert and one in Rainbow Ridge. 

Can you see the speaker? After a speaker was embedded in the scenery, it was covered
with a wire screen and blended into the surrounding terrain. The speaker that
broadcasts sounds of Cascade Peak's waterfalls is in the dead center of the picture, behind
a few trees. 
A speaker for Beaver Valley, yet to be hidden by trees and foliage.
A speaker for Bear Country covered in wire screen and preliminary scenery
blending. A few trees and shrubs and it wont be seen.  
On the subject of sound, Rainbow Caverns got it's memorable eerie choir that echos through the caves. I didn't want to dedicate a who track to the caverns so I used a 9V recording module from Radio Shack. At the press of a button, you can hear a 20 second sample of the music used in the Rainbow Caverns.

Here's a recording of the sound module in action (camera has poor video quality, no visuals).


Meanwhile in Beaver Valley, scenery began to "grow". Trees are starting to sprout as I experiment with different ways of making different varieties of trees. Some pines are scratchbuilt out of sculpey and wire branches, while others are Woodland scenics brand. What's nice about modeling Nature's Wonderland is that it's actually prototypical to have few trees, unlike most model railroads, since foliage still needed time to grow in. I won't need too many trees for that reason, but also so the viewer can actually see the scenes on the layout without being too cluttered. 

Finally, here's a side-by-side look at Cascade Peak, a year ago before it's major rebuild, and just a few days ago. Quite a difference!