"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 2011 Update

The western half of the layout picked up considerable progress as I put in the last piece of the complex puzzle-- the Battling Elk. Since it was a large portion of the "forest" section, it need to be completed and installed before anything else like Beaver Valley and Bear Country could be worked on.

Figuring out the exact placement of the Elk was quite a challenge considering the space I provided for them isn't much at all. And also considering how close they border the Bears and the Beavers, I had to take careful measures in making their position just right so it didn't impact the other two areas. Basically I had to take three major areas, make them as accurate as I can, fit them all together in a prototypical fashion, and make everything look good overall without anything looking "off". I also had to factor in how they would look from different point of perspective. For example, if you were on the miniature train passing through Beaver Valley, you wouldn't see the Elk fighting on the hill just above. To solve that, room had to be accounted for trees, shrub, and other visual barriers to make accurate site lines.

When I had everything figured out to a certain extent, I constructed the mechanism that would animate the Elk figures. Since I wasn't going to have their tiny legs move, all the Elk are going to do is move back and forth on a horizontal track, basically enough to give the illusion of movement. While someone with no mechanical animation experience might say "you should have made the legs move!", I say "good enough".
The mechanism, but with the original elk stand-ins
Here's a test of the mechanics, with the figures with fresh primer

When the mechanism was finished and duration tested, the hills sloping up to the Elk could be installed and built for the umpteenth and final time.

To accomodate space for the hills to house the mechanism, the Beaver Valley river had to shift a little bit. I could have left it where it was, but the hills would look too steep and unnatural.

The basics of land forms

The "fault line" is visible since the layout
can break into two pieces.
The basic structure of the hillside started with floral foam to help support and fill out the aluminum foil skin. Celluclay or "miniature concrete" as I like to think of it, is applied creating a hard shell to create the ground layer.Since the layout can split in half, I had to make sure the scenery still did. A few more shrubs and you won't notice the "fault" line.

Once dry, various ground foam foliage and carved rocks scattered over the terrain helped make this section of the layout more nature-like for the first time in years.

To accompany the Battling duo, Woodland Scenics deer stand in for the "cow-elk" that lounge on the grassy meadow. Eventually they'll be repainted to match the elk and my painting style.

Trees are the current focus; after experimenting with a few techniques, one made out of sculpey and wire with ground foliage seems to work pretty well. Now it's a matter of sitting down and creating a whole forest of trees one by one-- by hand.

Here's the final video of the Elk in action:

The NWRR Model's "Cousin"

Over at the Disneyland Hotel, as part of their major renovation, the "Frontierland" tower received a new centerpiece for their lobby-- A replica of the original concept model for Big Thunder Mountain. This 1/4" scale model --the same scale as my NWRR model-- is a re-creation of the one fabricated by Tony Baxter back in 1978. Since only a portion of the original model exists and since WDI wants to keep original things in it's archive, this brand-new model was created. After getting word of it being installed from the Official Disney Parks Blog, I did a quick trip over to the hotel to get a good look at the model. It's chock full of details with a lot to look at. I instantly noticed the locomotives on the coaster trains are repainted Bachmann 0-4-0 porters with the side rods taken off. There are differences between this model and the real thing, but considering this is suppose to be a concept model, those discrepancies aren't a big deal. Many people, typically with no mechanical animation experience, have said "they should have made the trains move!".           I say "good enough!".

I snapped a few photos and shot some video of the model, but really, it's worth it to see it in person.