Google Custom
CivicLifeSportsSchoolsBusinessFoodOur HomesLetters/OpinionsCalendar

Published July 20th, 2011
Gathering 'Round the Railroad
By Diana LaScala-Gruenewald
An intricately detailed model railroad brings friends, neighbors and train enthusiasts together in Bob and Norma Evans' back yard. Photos Doug Kohen

Under a flowering and tree lined hummock, a lumberjack loads up the bed of his truck. A moose, stock still near a curtain of waterfall, regards a downstream fisherman whose knees are deep in a glassy pool. In the nearby town, a man reclines. He reads a paper and has his shoes shined as he waits for a ruby train. Only a passing butterfly, apparently the size of a glider, belies the reality of the model railway.
Bob Evans, a long time Lafayette resident, and his wife Norma are the proud owners of this model railway. The model landscapes perhaps a third of the Evans' yard, and includes four trains which run on one thousand feet of track. Each train stands about six inches high, and winds over bridges, through tunnels and around elaborate scenery. Evans' model includes 110 live trees, one hundred buildings, about fifty cars, over two hundred people and dozens of other carefully placed props. The scenes surrounding the train tracks "are things that I just imagine," he says. "For example, there are kids playing in the sand lot, [and] there's a couple gardening. We have a policeman eating a doughnut over there, and we have a funeral scene, with the grieving widow clutching her head and crying as her husband is lowered into his grave."
Evans, like many, nurtured a love for trains in his childhood. "I always used to have model trains when I was younger," he says. "When my son got to be five or six, I used it as an excuse to go out and buy some for him. They became mine." The railway that currently inhabits the Evans' backyard has been evolving since 1994. When asked about the parts of railroading that he enjoys most, Evans says: "I like recreating reality on a miniature scale." The gardening, construction and fresh air are also pleasant.
Evans belongs to the Bay Area Garden Railway Society, whose members periodically hold open houses to view each other's railroads. About five years ago, after their son left for college, Norma Evans suggested that the couple do the same for their friends and neighbors. Now the Evans family holds an annual open house to display their railway and make lasting connections within their community. While the attendees are mostly neighbors and work associates, any train enthusiast is welcome to come, share lemonade and cookies, socialize and even participate in a scavenger hunt that highlights the detail that Evans has incorporated into his model. Kids are welcome too; in fact, they seem to be the most delighted guests as they run back and forth and shriek with each passing train.
"Kids are intrigued [by the trains]," says Evans. "Sometimes they just get locked in, and sit and stare for hours."

Bob Evans in his back yard Photos Doug Kohen

print story

Before you print this article, please remember that it will remain in our archive for you to visit anytime.
download pdf
(use the pdf document for best printing results!)

Send your comment to:

Reach the reporter at:

Quick Links for LamorindaWeekly.com
send artwork to:
Classified ads
Lamorinda Service Directory
About us and How to Contact us
Letter to the Editor
Send stories or ideas to:
Send sports stories and photos to:
Subscribe to receive a delivered or mailed copy
Subscribe to receive storylinks by email
Our Homes

Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA