"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.

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!