FAQ or How did we do that??


bottom viewHow do the boats work?

Our boats are controlled with magnets. Magnets located on the bottom of each boat correspond with opposing magnets mounted on a geared chain and sprocket system mounted under the river. Magnetic attraction pulls the boats through the water.


Is that real water ?

Yes, our river is approximately 3 inches deep.


How big is the Miniature Railroad & Village?

The platform is 83 feet long by 30 feet wide.

How many trains are there?

This figure varies, because more than one locomotive can run on each track, but generally there are 4 trains and 1 trolley operating.


What are the trees made of?

The deciduous model trees and most of the bushes are made from a wild flower we harvest each autumn called wild hydrangea. Hundreds of thousands of dried hydrangea flower tops are collected for the exhibit. The hydrangea plant grows on rocky banks and moist wooded ravines particularly along the steeper slopes of creek beds.

hydrangea hydrangea

Each tree is painstakingly handmade by first twisting a copper wire to shape the tree's main trunk and then the limbs. Remember, no two trees are alike, and our artists try hard to make each model tree slightly different. When the wild hydrangea flower top is completely dried it is ready to be pieced onto the bare tree with hot glue. The tree is painted green, orange, or even ocher depending on the season. Finally the trunk and branches are carefully coated with a layer of hot beeswax which simulates bark. A single tree can take hours or even an entire day to make. There are hundreds of thousands on the display.

What scale is the exhibit?

We use 1/4 inch equals 1 foot scale.


How are the historical replicas constructed?

After a particular historic structure is chosen our staff begins their research, seeking out as much historical documentation as possible, including blueprints. Detailed measurements and many photographs are taken to be studied and referenced to create scale architectural drawings.

Since most of our replicas are so unique it is rare to find ready-made construction materials. Imagination is key. One of the most unusual building materials ever used was angel hair pasta, which was used to replicate a fine ivy design on the front porch of one of the Liverpool St. row houses.

Each model is carefully constructed to duplicate the original in all ways.


How do the animated features work?

Many simple machines are at work under the display to control the various animations. Each of the nearly 100 animations on the exhibit is independently controlled by its own motor and an arrangement of gears or cams connected to a small wire drive shaft that directs the desired movement. Great care is taken to hide the mechanics so the magic of the illusion is maintained.

model sketch
mechanical view bottom view


What is the best way to view the Miniature Railroad?


And from a lower perspective. Children who are the same height as the display enjoy the most magical view of all and the exhibit's staff are careful to put in place things that can only be enjoyed from this child's eye view.