The inspiration for our central California garden railway is the “Happiest Place On Earth.” Not one you may visit today, but one you knew growing up – or might have known, if plans had developed as intended.

Cascade Peak & Buena Vista Railway No. 248 descends the grade while a visitor looks on from below at Horseshoe Springs (Mark Edwards, image).

Layout Specifications

This freelance 2300 sq. ft. layout is sighted above a “counter height” retaining wall. LGB track is used throughout. LGB locomotives and rolling stock from the North American steam era are featured. Structures include POLA and PIKO kits, some of which are kit bashed.

As most projects of this scope, ours will never truly be finished, but the Main Street Trolley (Jan-2014), perimeter loop (Jun-2016), Mine Train (Sep-2018) and Cascade Peak (Jul-2023) are now complete and operating. Placeholders exist so visitors may visualize future additions. We invite you for an early preview of these lands, in the hope you will return and share the excitement as our story unfolds.

Track loops3
Track gauge (mm)45
Total length (ft.)738
Mainline (ft.)365
Maximum gradient (%)2.0
Minimum radius (ft.)7.7
Control systemDCC


Highlights (will) include a typical American Main Street flanked by Liberty Street, a journey around Cascade Peak (2023) through Nature’s Wonderland (2021) and Rainbow Caverns, and a showcase of future transportation alternatives, including PeopleMover and Monorail systems. The entire site is encircled by passenger and freight steam trains on a “grand circle tour” climbing through Horseshoe Curve over the Cuesta Grade, clinging along Carrizo Gorge, passing in the shadows of Dos Cabezas rocks, precariously traversing Goat Canyon trestle, and descending over the falls feeding the Rivers of America before returning to the Main Street Station. Locomotives and rolling stock collected from Denver and Rio Grande Western still operate under that historic herald on this tourist destination line. 

Cascade Peak & Buena Vista Railway No. 251 fills her water tank at the western limits of the line, while the engineer promptly returns to the cab (Mark Edwards, image).
Guests onboard the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland sit real still while they are crossing the ol’ trestle. No telling how long she’s gonna last (Mark Edwards, image).


The layout is oriented east-west with full southern exposure. The current collection includes plants that tolerate full sun, have a reduced water needs once established, and are not preferred by plant predators.

USDA Hardiness Zone (2012): 9a

AHS Heat Zone: 4

Sunset Magazine Zone: 7

RupturewortHerniaria glabra ‘Green Carpet’
Creeping lemon thymeThymus sp.
Leprechaun thymeThymus sp. ‘Leprechaun’
Sparkling Bright thymeThymus ssp. ‘Sparkling Bright’
Archer’s golden thymeThymus x citriodorus ‘Archer’s Gold’
Lemon thymeThymus x citriodorus ‘Lemon”
Juniper leaf thymeThymus neiceffii
Highland cream thymeThymus praecox ‘Highland Cream’
Red thymeThymus serphyllum
Red creeping thymeThymus serphyllum ‘Coccineus’
Elfin thymeThymus serphyllum ‘Elfin’
Magic carpet thymeThymus serphyllum ‘Magic Carpet’
Pink chintz thymeThymus serphyllum ‘Pink Chintz’
ThymeThymus vulgaris ‘Compactus’
Thyme-leaf speedwellVeronica oltensis
Fairy Castle cactusAcanthocerus tetragonus ‘Fairy Castle’
Peanut cactusEchinopsis chamaecereus
CactusRebutia pulvinosa
Hens and chicksSempervinum spp.
Miniature desert roseTrichodiadema densum
Miniature common juniperJuniperus communis ‘miniature’
Compressa common juniperJuniperus communis compressa
Blue Planet white sprucePicea glauca ‘Blue Planet’
Jean’s Dilly Alberta sprucePicea glauca ‘Jean’s Dilly’
Dwarf Kingsville boxwoodBuxus microphylla ‘Kingsville Dwarf’
Morris dwarf boxwoodBuxus microphylla ‘Morris Dwarf’
Heller’s Japanese hollyIlex crenata ‘Helleri’
Dwarf rosemaryRosmarinus officinalis ‘Blue Boy’
Dwarf lavender cottonSantolina chamaecyparis ‘Little Nicky’


Efforts such as the Cascade Peak & Buena Vista Railway do not occur in isolation, or through the efforts of only one person. Mark & Michelle Edwards are grateful to their many friends who have contributed this project. They would like to specially recognize:

  • Jim Davis
  • Jamie Foster
  • Dave Hayes
  • Charlie Kleeman
  • Jay Rennilson
  • Bob Treat
  • Walt Wajda

The western station is decorated for the Christmas season, while fresh cut and tied trees wait on the platform to be delivered to undisclosed remote locations (Mark Edwards, image).
Scenes from CP&BVRy Christmas Twilight 2019