Garden Railroad at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

(PITTSBURGH) - Come to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and catch a bird's eye view of the beautiful Western Pennsylvania landscape, as three G-scale diesel trains trek through wooded hills, ridge tops, tunnels and bridges during this year's Garden Railroad exhibit. Garden Railroad is on display at Phipps from October 13, 2001 through February 24, 2002.

Featuring Aristocraft and LGB trains from the diesel era of the 1950s and 60s, this year's Garden Railroad exhibits a Pennsylvania Tuscan 5 Stripe (PRR) passenger train, a Chessie System (C&O) freight train and a Pennsylvania Railroad Diesel Locomotive coal train. The model trains have several features that help simulate a real railroad experience, such as a diesel smoke unit, operating headlights, interior cab lighting and details, complete with horns and whistles!

During Garden Railroad, the three trains travel through a 1250-square-foot landscape in Phipps' South Conservatory, filled with evergreens, coleus, thyme, moss, sedums and ferns - all designed and planted to scale to simulate our region's landscape.

Experience the sights and sounds of Garden Railroad - it's an unforgettable journey for the entire family!

Construction photos

Construction week 1

Construction week 2

Contruction week 3

Something’s Always Blooming at Phipps! Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the thirteen-room Victorian glasshouse and gardens in Schenley Park, is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays. Phipps admission rates are: $6.00 for adults; $5.00 for seniors 60 and over; $4.00 for students with ID; $3.00 for children ages 2 to 12; children under 2 and Phipps members are free. Phipps Garden Center, located at 1059 Shady Avenue, conducts botanical classes and is open year-round, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The gift shop “Shop in the Park” is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the conservatory call (412) 622-6914. For more information about the garden center call (412) 441-4442. More information about either location is available online at


Model details:
Road name: Pennsylvania Tuscan 5 Stripe (PRR)
Manufacturer: Aristocraft
Scale: 1:29
Manufacturer model number: 22306
Power plant: diesel-electric
Engine type: ALCO FA-1/FB-1 Diesel Combo
Prototype details:
The 1500-horsepower diesel locomotive prototype was originally designed and built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in Schenectady, New York. After the end of World War II, ALCO constructed hundreds of these locomotives for railroads in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba and South America. Although they were originally intended only for freight train service, they were used for passenger service as well.

Model details:
Road name: Chessie System (C&O)
Manufacturer: Aristocraft
Scale: 1:29
Manufacturer model number: 22102
Power plant: diesel-electric
Engine type: General Electric U25-B Diesel Locomotive
Prototype details:
General Electric (GE) Transportation Systems Division in Erie, Pennsylvania originally manufactured this prototype in the early 1960s. In doing so, GE brought about the 'high horsepower' diesel locomotive tradition that still exists today.

Model details:
Road name: Pennsylvania Railroad Diesel Locomotive
Manufacturer: LGB
Scale: 1:22.5
Manufacturer model number: 23630
Power plant: diesel-electric
Engine type: Davenport 25 Diesel Switcher
Prototype details:
The diesel switcher has always been a very important component to any railroad. They are used in assembling trains in the freight yard, delivering cars to shippers and pulling small trains between stations. One person could operate this locomotive, without the fuel and maintenance demands of a steam locomotive.

Gauge: G or #1
Theme: Western Pennsylvania landscape
Era: 1950s and 60s
Age of railway: New installation (October 2001)
Motive power: Track power
Length of mainline: 327 feet
Maximum gradient: 2%
Minimum radius: 2 feet
Type of track: LGB
Control system: MRC trainpower 6200 (total output 60VA for each train) Design: Bob Vukich, landscape architect, in collaboration with Phipps horticulture and buildings and grounds staff.

Note that I have no connection with Phipps or the exhibit. Garden railways are just cool, they're featuring the Pennsy, and Miranda Sutton from Phipps sent me the info so I'm posting it here!

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