This M'ville train bound for glory at open house to help food bank

Mike and Janet Elmore
Mike and Janet Elmore's back yard in Marysville is perfectly landscaped with a railroad track and villages all around. They will open up their home to visitors Aug. 2 as a fund-raiser for the food bank.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE – A train around a Christmas tree in the living room in 1999 sparked a love that has engulfed Mike and Janet Elmore’s back yard.

This exhibit, called the Drizzle and Downpour Railroad, will be open to the public Aug. 2 from noon to 6 p.m. as a fundraiser for the food bank. Visitors can donate money or food. “I always wanted to do that; it’s such a good cause,” Janet said.

For the past three years she said the garden railroad got “out of hand” because they were dealing with sick parents. But now they have pruned it back and “fell in love with it all over again.”

Until the past three years, the Elmores were used to showing off the garden railroad at 11800 47th Drive NE about once a year. They hosted national conventions in 2001 and 2011, bringing in about 2,000 people each time. People were impressed.

“We can grow the prettiest plants. They were amazed by the Evergreens,” Janet said. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like trains. They’re so nostalgic.”

They live in Sherwood Forest, so they can hear the big trains on the real tracks of BNSF. One visitor heard a blast, and said, “You’ve got quite a sound system,” Janet said with a laugh.

Mike Elmore, an engineer and former Little League president, and his wife have joined the Puget Sound Garden Railway Society, now 200 strong. “We loved looking at what others have. It was such an inspiration,” Janet said.

They have gone all around the country to find 1890s steam trains. But the Elmores are more into the landscaping. “We tore up the outside and put in a garden with a train in it,” Janet said.

The Elmores actually have two train systems. Another one was built on the side of the house with a Disney theme. “The grandkids play there while we work on the big one,” Janet said.

The railroad, part of which actually runs through a greenhouse attached to the main house, includes hundreds of feet of track, dozens of cars, and numerous engines in the 25 foot by 60 foot back yard. Along with the plants, the Elmores, their kids and grandkids have built houses made from kits and painted them. There are numerous miniature people and other exhibits placed methodically around the tracks.

The entire project might not have happened without grandson Nathan Demmig, now of Little Rock, Ark. When he was 4, he said he wanted to play outside with the train. He was the first one to operate the outside track.

Now 26, he is coming back for the Open House. “We’re so excited to see him” and the other grandkids who are coming. “His work ethic is so good - phenomenal.”

Just like the project he helped build.


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