"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.

February 2012 Update

While the dinosaur bones section finished well, there were other areas still needing a rehab. Since it borders the Living Desert and Rainbow Ridge, the Rainbow Caverns "show building" needed some cosmetic and structural repairs before any work can be done to transition the two areas together in the future.

The caverns building had been slowly falling apart, mainly due in part to me putting materials and tools on the roof while I worked on other areas. Since some severe warping had taken place, it was time for a rework. The two roof panels and some cross beams were removed and the whole structure was clamped and re-glued together, this time a little more square than when it was originally built.

Instead of two roof access panels, I made one big one that fit snug over the whole structure; this way there are no exposed gaps or seams, and should warping ensue in the future, it won't be noticeable.

While the roof and rafters were apart on the inside, the caverns themselves got a retouch; a fresh coat of black paint and the lighting package was upgraded and streamlined-- this time the UV LED's have proper drop reistors and wiring so they can be tapped into the main 12v line on the layout.

The Caverns structure with the roof taken off to reveal the inside. This is after the roof and lighting upgrade/rehab
To add a sense of realism, I added vents to the top of the "show building". Unfortunately, the real Rainbow Caverns show building didn't have much when it came to roof details, so I had to use a little artistic license to make it more interesting than just a flat concrete colored roof. 

The vent design was borrowed from the nearby Fantasyland show buildings from the time, with these cylindrical vents made out of styrene. A little weathering and the caverns refresh is complete. 

Carrying over the fascia from the back corner of the desert, more masonite paneling made it to the caverns with viewports and accessports cut into it. The silver button in the middle plays 20 seconds of  the orignal Rainbow Caverns music. 

Here's a new shot of the caverns, taken with my Nikon, something I hadn't done since I got it a year ago.

Since I was in the same area--right above the Rainbow Caverns actually--I decided to get some more work done on the Saguaro Cactus forest. While I did have the Woodland Scenics cacti already in place and with more to come, it was still missing those memorable ones, the cactus that looked a little more "life-like". 

Photo of a more "life-like" cactus from Davelandweb.
These cacti were definitely something that I had to sculpt from scratch. Although they aren't terribly hard to create in terms of shape and form, it was the texture that was downright difficult to do, especially in this scale. Scribing the lines in my first sculpey test didn't come out as well as I'd like, being how small and delicate the cactus is. 

When it came to the second figure test, I came up with a genius idea. The arms were the hardest part to create that cactus pattern and I thought they should be done with a different technique. I ended up using scrap extension cord wiring--the hot wire part that was ribbed--and stripped out the copper strands. Next I put in florist wire, so I can bend the arms into any shape. The main body was still done out of sculpey, but this extra electrical wire step saved time and improved the quality of the figure(s). 

Since all the cacti put in beforehand was already painted, painting the new "custom" figures the same shades and highlights made them blend in very well. 

Scenery work jumped over to the other side of the layout at Bear Country. Before any of the water can be poured with Enviro-Tex, all the foliage had to go in first. 

At this time the pack mule trail was formed out of celluclay

Unlike the Living Desert, the foliage is a lot more dense and more green. Although the real ride had much more greenery as the attraction aged, from a modeling perspective, it looked better to back off bit. When I started adding trees and bushes, it started to look a little chaotic and since it was going to be viewed from above, it was easier to see things with less foliage. Since I am modeling the ride in it's earlier years, fewer trees is still prototypical. 

One of the things I've been wanting to do for a very long time is see what the layout looks like from the train itself. I've finally been able to do that, from one of the oddest gadgets I've come across: a Hot Wheels Camera Car. While looking for miniature cameras, this one popped up in my search. I looked at sample on YouTube and was quite surprised of it's quality, being that it is a toy. I picked one up and began experimenting. It doesn't do well at all in low light, but if I have all my studio lights on and window blinds open, I can achieve a pretty good picture. I edited a few variations of the footage and stuck it all together on YouTube: 

I've also added a new shot to the Aerial Photos page. The main noticeable difference between this one and the last shot is the addition of the Dinosaur Bones and the new roof on the Rainbow Caverns building. 

The lighting is a little different now that the layout has changed it's orientation in the room.