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Holiday Spirit

Special model train display
open for viewing at Yew Dell Gardens

Master model train builder Irmscher
has created the miniature village

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (December 2011) – Since his grandfather gave him his first model train layout at age 1, Bob Irmscher has been fascinated with locomotives. He is a master model train builder and has created an entire snow village that will delight young and old alike.
The model train enthusiast has created a massive snow village and model train display for Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky. “I started the project on Sept. 15,” said Irmscher. “I built it in 51 days, 260 hours.”
Irmscher said he met with the staff at Yew Dell in August to “discuss what they wanted.” He knew the only way to construct the display would be to build it on 4x6-foot segments at his home in Floyd Knobs, Ind.

Train

Photos provided

Bob Irmscher of Floyd Knobs
has designed a massive model
train display for Yew Dell Gardens.

Building

The display was built using “multiple layers of foam and stacking them. It’s like making a cake,” he said. “You go taller and taper in to get mountains. You have to walk all the way around to see everything.”
No detail is lost to the eye. Streets are glazed to make them appear icy. A river area contains a dock and boat and dead cattails made from old broom straws. Bridges have silicone icicles hanging on them. A tunnel is stained with train smoke. Both tunnels and bridges are covered with stone-looking paper or embossed to appear to be made from real stone.
“The display starts with a country scene,” said Irmscher. Visitors can visually travel around a hill and see a bed and breakfast, go down to the river area, cross a bridge and follow one of two trains into a tunnel.
Irmscher said a model train builder never wants anyone to see the trains on the display the whole time. “Mountains and tunnels block your vision and create an illusion of distance. This makes the display more interesting.”
This is the first time the Yew Dell Garden Express has been on display at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens. Admission to the display is included in regular admission to Yew Dell, which is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and free for children under 12.
The Yew Dell Garden Express opened in the Yew Dell Castle on Nov. 25-27 and will again open on display Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11 during the regular operating hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Santa will visit on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A special scavenger hunt will be offered relating to the display. A second scavenger hunt will be offered outside among the gnomes.
Siofra Rucker, Director of Marketing and Development for Yew Dell, said “a Yew Dell member, Mary Kline, has seen one at another botanical garden. We thought it would be a neat way to revive an old tradition and recreate the holidays.”
This display also provides the opportunity to have “new things in the gift shop at Yew Dell,” Rucker said. New train gift items give visitors the chance to shop locally, she said.
Irmscher said the display is supposed to return to Yew Dell next year. It features “Three buildings that are unique to Oldham County: a replica of the castle Theodore Kline built at Yew Dell, the Oldham County courthouse and a replica of the Duncan Memorial Chapel in Floydsburg.”
Irmscher, 63, lived in Oldham County for a time before moving to Floyds Knobs.
He is originally from Louisville and is a professional landscaper with Korfhage Nursery.
He has “built model trains and layouts since I was a child in every scale available.” Irmscher has a floor-to-ceiling 25 segment layout at his home known as The Rock Ridge that is intricately detailed.
His wife reintroduced him to model train building when he constructed a Big Garden Railway that is now displayed in Greenville, Ind. and known as Swift Creek Model Railroad. Three open houses are given a year and “It has been in operation for 20 years or more,” he said.
For the Yew Dell display, Irmscher said he had help getting materials, some things were lent, someone donated the track, helped him move the display and some monetary donations were given.

• For more information on the Yew Dell Garden Express, contact Siofra Rucker at (502) 241-4788 or visit: www.YewDell.org.

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