Emerald Coast Garden Railway Club
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In the beginning......

....there was Bob, who had discovered garden trains while on vacation at Disney's Epcot. He started researching garden trains and soon connected with another garden train enthusiast, Ed. Ed invited Bob to do a train show in Dothan, Alabama and on the way home they discussed starting a garden railway club. Bob was receptive to the idea as he had started another club years before. They, plus a few other folks they met along the way, founded the Emerald Coast Garden Railway Club in 2003.

In the early days, the club would set up shop on the WFRM flat car with a temporary layout where they could run thier trains. A set of outrigger shelves were created to extend operations over the normal width of the flat car to allow additional area, out to 13.5 feet. This arrangement was used for club meets and Museum Open Houses and Special Events.

By the end of the following year there were several other members who had joined the ranks. These founding members loved their trains, but the only time they could run their trains was at train shows. After a year or so one of the founders said "We need our own layout."

Thus the idea of the layout in it’s current location was born. A proposal was made to the West Florida Railroad Museum Board to locate a garden railroad inside the loop of track that is the 7 1/2" gauge ride on train. With the acceptance of the proposal by the Museum Board, the Jordan Lot Project could, someday, become a reality.

Once the space had been secured, measurements were taken, and planning began in earnest.

A major concern of the location was flooding. This had to be overcome before any construction could begin. The solution was a track support system elevated above what would be considered normal flood stage. This would be surrounded by a retaining wall and back filled with dirt to provide a location for plants and structures. The raised system is comprised of 2" Sch 40 PVC pipe risers spaced at approximately 24" centers along the track centerline. These risers support a ‘ladder’ road bed system comprised of two 1 x 2 PVC stringers (exterior trims strips) spaced 2-3/8" apart, held in place with short pieces of the trim strips. Spacers are also about 24" apart. An early on decision was to use non-degradable material as much as possible to minimize future maintenance.

Members proposed track plans and after some deliberation a plan was chosen. Construction soon began. Fabrication of the road bed in prefabricated sections were assembled on the concrete apron at the Museum and carried to the layout area.

It soon started to look like a train layout. Due to financial and personal complications, the project fell dormant for some time.

Then, in 2008, two things happened to ignite activity again. First, the Museum infused a substantial contribution of finances. And second, we gained a new brilliant, engineering wizard member. This new member provided much needed motivation and boundless energy into the project. His efforts can be seen in almost every aspect of the layout. Construction in earnest started with leveling the ladder road bed and installing the castle rock perimeter.

This was followed by back filling in the center of the castle rock up to the top of the ladder road bed.

With construction complete we now have, to the best of our knowledge, the only and largest permanent public garden railroad layout in Florida.