The History of the D & B Garden Railroad

June 11, 2004
D & B Railroad was created in the fall of 1995 in my parent's back yard. The D & B stands for Dennis and Bud's Garden Railroad. My father the year before had completed a pond with a small running stream and a stream that had been laid out but not finished. This became the vision and the challenge for building a garden railroad, as it had to find a way around and through hills and streams. It has slowly but continually grown over the years. It started out as a small point to loop then a larger point to loop until I had gotten the track around the pond, streams and hills back to the loop end. After several years I had an odd shaped figure 8. At this point I started looking for a multi train control system to control several engines at the same time. After lots of research I choose to use DCC for train control. It was a tethered controller from Digitrax. As the town continued to grow it became evident that this location was not big enough for the town. So a new location had to be found.

In March of 1998 the location was found, built up and the massive process of moving buildings and their residents was undertaken. The relocation of the town meant that there also had to be track for passenger service to this new area thus the creation of the Junction City loop and a 30-foot (720 scale feet) of trestle. After the successful move the location of the old town was converted into a small rail yard. At this point they had started selling wireless controllers. This made operation great, with 2 controllers my father and I were be able to run 4 trains at the same time. It was great to see all the trains running around the yard until someone would ask one of us a question and soon there would be a large noise of trains crashing in to each other, head on crashes and rear end crashes, Lots of fun.

In 1999 was the addition of a mining operation, a mountain, mineshaft, stamp mill, some scale track for the miners to push the ore cars for the shaft to the mill and a small stone building and the relocation / addition of some track.

In the summer of 2000 I got laid off of from my job with a significant severance package and after a little travel took the year off to work on the railroad and rejuvenate myself. It was time for another addition, a logging operation. This required a new larger mountain more track, lots of trees and 2 donkey engines and all the cabling for a logging operation. The track that was needed included 2 switchbacks to get to the top of the mountain and since the logging company was using a Climax the average grade for the 2 switchbacks wound up being around 8%. The climax with a load of logs moves up and down the mountain with great ease. In the fall of 2000 my father and I built a workshop / storage in the back yard. The rest of my remaining time off was running trains and yard work and in Sept. 2001 back to work 8 to 5. That fall I joined the great Bay Area Garden Railway Society.

In the winter of 2001 my father got sick and passed away at Christmas time. As it turns out my 15 months of not working was the best time of my life. Because I got to spend the last year and a half of my fathers life working around the railroad and driving the trains with him! As a result of the hard winter (not the weather) we lost the water and all fish in the pond. So it was decided that I would rebuild the pond. So I talked to my local pond expert and found out how to build it right so that it would be safe from our local predators and not leak (cross my fingers).

In the spring of 2002 I started the rebuild with the removal of the old liner that my father had used and started digging the new deeper pond about 2.5 to 3 feet deep. Added the plumbing, foundation, filters, new liner mortared rocks around the edges put the old plants back in and after a few months started adding fish. Several koi (scale whales) and a load of mosquito fish (Scale trout) now occupied the pond. One of the cool side effects of building a pond around a garden railroad is that you never have to figure out what to do with the dirt! I made two more mountains for future work. The summer of 2002 was tough; I had my arms twisted into doing an open house by a number of friends who look forward every year to seeing the railroad. Being that all of the past open houses was a team effort. My dad did the landscape, the placement of people and autos around the layout. I made the trains work and my mom did the refreshments and now it was just mom and I. Thanks to all the friends for pushing us past the sorrow of being short a team member!

In the spring of 2003 I started the rebuild of the northern Stream with an extension of the new mountain. The other mound of dirt from the year before was north of town. This provided a place to have a point-to-point track that would run with out any constant supervision. So the track runs from town to up and around the mountain across a tall trestle over the 30-foot trestle from the main town loop to the top of the northern stream mountain where there is a hotel under construction. Then our first club open house. Then during the rest of the summer I rebuilt the town with new foundations under the buildings with wiring for lights including streetlights and a real asphalt paved street.

In the spring of 2004 I started the rebuild of the southern stream and the completion of the northern stream. In the southern stream there is a gristmill in the process of being built.

The summer of 2006 here on the railroad has been very busy. We got the new hotel built and put on the layout, added a saw mill for the logging line and automated the logging line just in time to be open for the 2006 National Garden Railway Convention, our annual weekend open house and an open house for the club. We have had over 1000 people come through and visit the railroad this summer. I have never seen so many people come through and watch and visit. It was a lot of fun and very tiring. I have added a section for pictures sent from people that have come to an open house.

More additions to come in the future of this growing railroad.

Dennis Mack