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Garden Railroad Celebrates 20 Years

Volunteers reflect on the exhibit over the years.


Dec. 4, 2019 - Choo choo! As you enter the Botanic Garden’s Festival Green, you might notice a magical world of miniature trains, complete with towns, bridges and Thomas the Tank Engine.

The Garden Railroad marks its 20 year anniversary this December, having been a staple of the Botanic Garden since 1999.

The model railroad layout at the Botanic Garden consists of approximately 1,250 feet of "G" gauge brass track resting on plastic ties.

Ron Ham is a 20-year Botanic Garden railroad volunteer and the only active volunteer of the original group that planned, designed and installed the first section of the railroad.

"I don't think that the original founders of the Botanic Garden Railroad thought it would last for 20 years and beyond," Ham says, adding that he appreciates the support of volunteers and temporary employees that keep the railroad running.

Ham says he enjoys seeing how much small children enjoy the Garden Railroad, especially the Thomas/Percy push button loops. "They get a big kick out of controlling the trains," he says. "I also enjoy my interaction with the adult visitors to the Botanic Garden."

Volunteer Fred Prince echoed that sentiment. "Many say they travel to Albuquerque just to see the trains, especially our 'special' trains - such as the Halloween, Christmas, and River of Lights Luminaria trains," Prince says. "Seeing the children's reactions to the special dinosaur and character trains makes all the work of our many volunteers worthwhile."

For Prince, return visitors are also a sign that the trains have been enjoyed and appreciated over the the last 20 years.

The ABQ BioPark invites visitors to celebrate 20 years of the model railroad by stopping by the specially decorated holiday miniature trains during River of Lights. Special holiday trains will chug through the Garden Railroad exhibit until 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, weather and volunteer staff permitting.