What does one do during a “stay at home” order? Sun City residents John and Nancy Schmidt built a railroad.
Before COVID-19 was on many people’s radar, Mr. Schmidt received a starter kit for a small gauge train set in December. He barely had time to get begin working on it when Gov. Doug Ducey established his “stay at home” order and closed or restricted a number of businesses and activities in the state.
That meant the Schmidts had time on their hands. They began their rail building in earnest.
“We had nothing else to do,” Mr. Schmidt said. “But we have had a lot of fun doing this.”
The railroad village includes about 100 feet of brass track on realistic looking ties surrounding a collection of buildings of different types. Many of the buildings were purchased, but the couple handmade a barn now on the village’s west end. The village also includes a tunnel, made to look like masonry, where the train is parked when not circling the track.
“I carved all the rocks on top out of foam and painted the whole tunnel,” Mrs. Schmidt said.
The railroad is a G, or Garden, scale.
“I used to have an HO set inside at another home,” Mr. Schmidt said. “But I prefer the larger G scale size.”
The village also includes solar-powered lights so it can be lit up at night. The village also includes a working water fountain.
The entire village takes up about one-third of the Schmidts’ backyard, which also has a pool and a cornhole area.
“I might, some time in the future, expand it along the side (along the cornhole area),” Mr. Schmidt said. “I just don’t want to have it too close to the pool because of the chlorine.”
It was suggested he build a bridge over the pool, but Mrs. Schmidt was quick to throw water on that idea.
“Don’t give him any ideas,” she laughed.
The Schmidts are concerned about damage to the village in extreme weather.
“I’m anxious to see what happens when we get out first monsoon,” Mr. Schmidt said.
But they did see a little wind and rain overnight Aug. 17-18 and saw very little, if any, damage afterward.