The Geologically Improbable Railroad

A Garden Railway Adventure

[ Home ]

The Geologically Improbable Railroad is an outdoor "garden railway" although there is not much garden yet. The whole thing is located in Torrance CA.

A little "history"

About 1950, the GIRR extended off the Santa Fe main line into the trackless desert wastelands with the main target being Geologically Improbable Mountain, the site if a unique mine which is still to be fully developed. Either coal or ore is mined, depending on which cut of cars is spotted at the mine.

Much of the line skirts rock faces that are almost completely quartzite, an unusual material to find in car to house sized boulders.

The railroad is counting on a town and other business to sprout up near the line, construction has started but is proceeding slowly. Mostly structure and vegetation free terrain still abounds.

The railroad is laid with inconceivably heavy 200+ lb rail and the main line extends as a loop a little over a scale mile long between the mine and a stub and engine yard. A wye near the entrance to the yard also feeds a branch line to a staging and storage yard within an adjacent structure. A projected town site has been established but is as yet undeveloped.

The overall site size not including the branch is about 20' x 50'. The railroad is sometimes run with a Train Engineer controlling track power with cab control and interlocking turnout controls. DCC control is now more common as much of the GIRR motive power has been converted to DCC. The original interlocking turnout control system is still in use.

Equipment consists of mostly 1:29 scale rolling stock and engines from Aristo, Lionel and some 1:24 scale stock from Bachmann, Also included is a Bachmann 1:20.3 36 ton Shay.

Many construction photos are presented in the links below, but I also collected some of them into a QuickTime Slideshow.

The GIRR control equipment is enclosed in a closet at the back of the house. All the equipment except for the actual power supplies and the DCC equipment are mounted on the back of the door for easy access. The layout is completely controlled by walkaround remote control using the Aristo Train Engineer or a Digitrax DCC throttle.

All the turnouts are controlled by an Interlocking Route Control System such that one route command from the TE (two buttons) or a DCC throttle aligns as many as seven turnouts and routes power accordingly. This is accomplished with Aristo ART-5474 Remote Accessory panels, some custom circuitry and a diode matrix. Most of the wiring and some of the small circuit boards are to adapt the currently available ART-5474 accessory panels to the diode matrix. The DCC control is via stationary decoders that drive the same diode matrix to select the same routes.

GIRR construction photos

[ Home ]

This page has been accessed hit counter times since Dec 17, 1997.

© 1997-2011 George Schreyer
Created Sep 18, 1997
Last Updated February 22, 2011