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posted: 4/9/2014 3:42 PM

Model Railroad Returns to the Chicago Botanic Garden

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  • Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America has a magical, storybook feel that's enjoyed by kids of all ages.Photo provided courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

      Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America has a magical, storybook feel that's enjoyed by kids of all ages.Photo provided courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

 
Adriana Reyneri

Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America, an outdoor exhibition beloved by kids of all ages, will open for the 2014 season on Saturday, May 10. The masterfully crafted and magical exhibition offers a garden-scale train tour of iconic national monuments such as Mt. Rushmore and the White House. New this year will be the historic Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.

Eighteen trains on 18 tracks wind past close to 50 landmarks, artfully constructed from gourds, mushrooms, acorn caps and other natural materials. Twenty-six bridges and 5,000 plants, representing more than 300 species, are incorporated into the 7,500-square-foot landscape in miniature. By the end of the season, Sunday, October 26, the trains will have traveled more than 22,000 miles, passing overhead, crossing small lakes and streams and even winding past an active geyser. Tiny cars, boats and figurines add to the storybook feel.

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The Model Railroad Garden is a favorite of young children, who will find Thomas the Tank Engine® and his friends among the railroad lines. Rail enthusiasts also enjoy the exhibition, which features some "fallen flag lines," no longer in use, including the Rock Island and the Chicago & North Western commuter lines.

The Garden was designed and created by Applied Imagination, a family business led by landscape architect Paul Busse that is based in Alexandria, Kentucky. Applied Imagination's work can also be seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express exhibition each winter.

The Model Railroad Garden is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, with special evening hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, from June 11 to August 27. The exhibition will close at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 13, for the Summer Dinner Dance, a benefit supporting the Garden's conservation, science, and education programs.

Admission to the Model Railroad Garden is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 3 – 12. There is no admission charge for children under 3. Garden members get a $1 discount on all rates. Garden Plus members receive free admission on Wednesdays. A ten-visit pass to the exhibition is available for $45. A member ten-day pass is $40.

The Model Railroad Garden is generously supported by Bank of America.

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