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Rooftop details add interest and tell a story in a garden railroad

By Nancy Norris | March 23, 2022

This photo gallery shows 12 different ways to highlight your building tops

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The author glued an owl nest to the top of her Aggie’s grain elevator. One day, a chickadee boldly robbed the straw as her family watched.

 

Rooftop details add interest to garden railways

The roof usually isn’t an especially attractive part of a structure – it’s a weather-proofing function. Yet, we usually look down on the roofs where garden railways are mostly below us. Rooftop details add interest and can tell a story on a garden railroad.

Decorative roof toppings can add a wow factor to a railway garden. Cupulas, clerestories, finials, fancy chimneys, water and ranger towers, castle turrets, and other roof accoutrements bring the structures closer to view and tell a little story about the owners of your scale buildings.

This story intends to take our attention beyond the basics of architecture into the realm of the loftiest, topmost, dare-I-say paradisiac elements that adorn railway buildings. The owners of the railways in the following gallery get it: finishing a structure culminates in a topmost jewel in the crown.

Group of structures on garden railroad

Following their own architectural plans, Dart and Dottye Rinefort build unique and detailed structures for their OS&F Railroad. Each roof accessorizes towers of every shape, many with spires and finials. To show their intended purpose, the fire station elevates its bell tower over a cupola; city hall keeps track of schedules with a clock tower; fancy shops hold up a coned tower; and of course, the church calls us in with a spired bell tower. Guests arrive via train to The Sisters Hotel, decked out in gables and every conceivable trimming. Photos by Nancy Norris.

Group of structures on garden railroad
Large model mansion made from natural materials.

Paul Busse’s crew at Applied Imagination gathers natures bark, seeds, pods and sticks to build complex structures such as this castle-like mansion. Towers, turrets, and cupolas embellish the rooves tiled in leaves.

Large model mansion made from natural materials.
Model grain elevator on a garden railway.

 A well-weathered grain elevator on Joe and Mary Schrock’s Bulldog Junction stands high above the town. Rather than decorative finials and indulgent cupolas, roof edges curl up in the Nevada sun as if to say, “We mean business” as farmers truck away sacks of feed.

Model grain elevator on a garden railway.
Model locomotive loads ore on a garden railway.

Eric Maschwitz rides live-steam, dual-gauge 3.5” and 4.75” on his point-to-point line. David Wegmuller’s ULTRA narrow-gauge Accucraft Ruby kitbash loads ore atop Eric’s 1:8 tipple on his Squirrel Mountain Mining Co.

Model locomotive loads ore on a garden railway.
Man maintaining model live-steam engine.

For the amusement of guest live steamers on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, Bill and Virginia Allen filled one fence with facades. For fun, trains can steam under the mill to tipple a fake fill into hoppers. Henner Meinhold steams up as a fellow steamer’s train plows through.

Man maintaining model live-steam engine.
Low-relief model structure on the side of a fence.

Clever use of paints, corrugated metal siding and half-round silos make us believe this 2-dimensional art piece is a working feed storage facility served by Richard and Evelyn Wolf’s D&E Garden Railroad – all raised on the covered side of a garden shed.

Low-relief model structure on the side of a fence.
Model mine structure with ladders and small water tower.James and Angela Robinson show how effectively four ladders get a worker up a mine structure on Appomatox Raildoad System. Water towers are an easy addition on many industrial buildings.

James and Angela Robinson show how effectively four ladders get a worker up a mine structure on Appomattox Railroad System. Water towers are an easy addition on many industrial buildings.

Model mine structure with ladders and small water tower.James and Angela Robinson show how effectively four ladders get a worker up a mine structure on Appomatox Raildoad System. Water towers are an easy addition on many industrial buildings.
Model wood firehouse

The simplest redwood-siding firehouse gets dressed for duty with a bell cupola over the staff’s group dorm on Dan and Anita Brown’s A&D Line.

Model wood firehouse
Model vintage water tower

Jack and Pauline Verducci’s Crystal Springs Railroad tells many tales. Cantilevered and corbeled, a widows-walk-like fence keeps safe anyone maintaining the finial-spired vintage water tower. Next to it, the office’s roof displays filigreed cresting and a lightning rod. Get Jack Verducci’s Building Structures for your garden railway at https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/12457.

Model vintage water tower
Model house with thatched roof next to gazebo.

Within Gary and Pam Everitt’s Story Lines (large-scale) railway, a Z-scale train entertains 2” kids around the weather-vaned gazebo. Is that cloaked sorcerer plotting to set fire to the thatched roof on the Tudor-styled house? Behind that, roofer Roy gets busy shingling a leaky roof.

Model house with thatched roof next to gazebo.
Model house outdoors

The Rineforts’ Victorian Second Empire style home sports a Mansard style roof topped with a clear-paned cupola and finialled tower. Note the deco-dormer rooves and contrasting deck fence. Trees are pruned to perfection, not to obscure a thing.

Model house outdoors

Learn more:

Building Structures For Your Garden Railway

Design your railway, Part 3: Details with pairings

 

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