Since the museum was closed they went to the Underground Railroad in Old Town Sacramento.
Linda had noted the presence of this basement layout in a previous visit to Old Town. The
Underground Railroad is an H0-scale layout set beneath one of the Old Town shops. The railroad depicts
the Southern Pacific line from San Diego to San Francisco with all major stops along the way represented.
From the Underground Railroad, they wandered over to the nearby mall and into the All American Trains Store.
Here they saw, for the first time, LGB trains and books on Garden Railways. That first look was all it took.
Todd decided that having a Garden Railroad would be a great idea and could replace the front lawn that was
under continual attack from gophers. Linda thought it would be a lot of work to build an outdoor railroad.
She agreed to let Todd build the railroad, if he did everything; including all of the weeding. This led to
the Tortoise & Lizard Bash Rail Road. The Tortoise and Lizard Bash Rail Road was established in 1997,
in Todd’s words, “to give the gophers something to tear up besides the lawn.”
The groundbreaking for Todd and Linda’s railroad occurred in April 1997 and the first train was run
just six months later, in October. About 90% of the track was in place by that time and the trains
were running. It took Todd one month of the six months just to build the control panel.
The plants followed later. Todd put in ground-cover type plants and then he began to add miniature trees
from Miniature Plant Kingdom and Upland Nursery. The Brodys didn’t want just conifers so they decided to
model a deciduous forest in Southern California. The plantings are all to scale with miniature trees and
ground cover including half a dozen varieties of thyme. Feather Mountain (home of the gold mine) is planted
with drought-resistant succulents and California natives. Horseshoe Valley (found in one of the craters) and
the rest of the railroad are planted with Australian tea, Irish moss and baby tears and various types of deciduous
and evergreen trees. A miniature fuchsia and garden of baby tears grow in one of the craters.
The railroad has a couple of towns, a farm, a mine, and plenty of open areas with water features and mountains.
The pike is built around three extinct volcanoes that were created with red, black, and pink lava rock and
Featherstone. The main crater is now a lake fed by a river that includes two waterfalls.
The railroad is set in the fall of 1957. This allows for a variety of both steam and early diesel.
The equipment is primarily AristoCraft, USA Trains and Bachmann. Most rolling stock is from the 1920’s
through 1950’s era. All of the autos and trucks found on the railroad are from those years as well.
The engines and cars are weathered nicely.
The railroad occupies about 1,200 square feet of area, with about 600 feet of AristoCraft track and
21 turnouts. A spur was recently constructed that shuttles tourists to the new volcanic hot springs area.
The turnouts are AristoCraft and LGB. The turnouts are all remotely controlled but can be switched
manually if desired. Minimum diameter on curves is 8 foot, but most curves are 10 foot in diameter.
The road was designed for either automatic running, or manual operations with numerous people operating
at one time. There are 23 blocks and each block is addressable by three different cab controls.
All of the controls work by radio controlled track power. The controllers are Crest Train Engineer
and RCS. An AristoCraft FA equipped with provisions for both track power and battery power using
an on-board Crest Train Engineer allow a fourth operator access to any and all blocks
regardless of the selected cab.The Tortoise & Lizard Bash runs Southern Pacific, South Pacific Coast
and undecorated equipment.
During open houses, Todd lets the train run automatically. Seven trains run simultaneously, both in loop
and point-to-point modes. When necessary to avoid collision, trains automatically wait for each other at
the 30 degree crossing. Trains that pass the service facilities will slow, then stop to take on fuel and
water before heading out again. A “leap-frog” section allows trains to alternately come and go at the station.
All associated electronics are of Todd’s own design and implementation.
The Tortoise and Lizard Bash was designed to be run at night. There are over three dozen buildings
and structures all of which have lighting. Additionally, there are lights around the exterior
of the railroad, lanterns held by miniature figures and barrels with lights that are placed on bridges
and trestles. Todd also has scratch built fully operational signals along the railroad.
There are an abundance of bridges and trestles on the Tortoise and Lizard Bash. All of the waterfalls
are backlit and the two volcanoes are also lit. The volcanoes and hot springs areas use lighting and
misting units to give the appearance of active volcanoes and hot springs.
Todd uses figures effectively throughout the railroad. Most are commercially available and are used as
they come from the store, but he uses them to create scenes that capture the viewer’s interest.