Ancient geology and modern horticulture have determined the shape and features of the Monarch & Sand Railroad. The home sits atop a “stabilized dune,” an ancient layer of tumbled, smooth sea sand, lacking true soil or dirt. Any place in the yard not covered with lawn is exactly the texture of your favorite sandy beach.

The railroad conforms to the contours of an already established garden and fence line. The owners liked the attempt at a lawn made by previous owners, as well as some major plants, shrubs, and trees that seemed to be growing well. They designed the M&SRR to disrupt this as little as possible, as well as to provide opportunities for future plantings.

Railroad crossing bell decorated with garden railroad logo.
This operational Western Cullen Hayes Model 333 crossing warning bell has been detailed with The Monarch & Sand Railroad. Ask Will to operate it for you during your next visit! (W. Kastner, image)
Strategically placed structures and mature plantings create interest as visiting trains traverse the Monarch & Sand Railroad (Mark Edwards, image).


Because there is no firm base for track-laying, Will installed a strong foundation of concrete masonry blocks placed several inches in the sand. These foundation blocks were then topped with concrete masonry cap blocks, ultimately giving a wide and firm, but definitely “unrealistic” base for the actual tracks.

Because this is such a young railroad (and has such foundation issues), there are few structures in place. It does feature a fully functional Western-Cullen-Hayes Model 333 crossing bell.

Tunnels, bridges and “mountains” of vegetation create visual interest on the Monarch & Sand Railroad (Mark Edwards, image).
The solid roadbed design supports the track and trains, as well as creates a functional border between the lawn and planting beds (Mark Edwards, image).

Layout Specifications

The railroad basically is an “L.” The main line, a dog bone about 40 feet by 10 feet, is near the back (west) fence, then from the south end of the main line, the upper branch and the lower branch run about 65 feet along the south fence, culminating in a 53 foot reversing loop. Including two sidings, the entire track available is about 270 feet long.

This track-powered layout is divided into eight electrically-isolated blocks, which include two reversing opportunities, a wye and a loop.

Track gauge (mm)45
Total length (ft.)270
Mainline (ft.)100
Maximum gradient (%)2.0
Minimum radius (ft.)10
Control systemDC Analog