About Sylvan House Railway


Our home was given the name Sylvan House because of its forested setting in more than an acre of dense woods in Sammamish, Washington. Most of the trees, ferns and other vegetation are on a steep hill behind the house as seen in the above photos. Sylvan House Railway is located in the room at the far right of the left photo. The photo on the right is the view from the windows in the Train Room.

The origin of the Overhead Layout dates back to April 1992. My late wife came home one day and told me about the wonderful large outdoor trains she saw in a toy shop. Although the house is on a steep hill, there is a small, nearly level Northwest garden behind the dining room, and she thought it would be nice to have one of these trains running there. The toy shop was going out of business, and everything was being sold at a discount, so the first locomotive, an LGB Spreewald, two passenger cars and a few pieces of track were purchased that same day.

During the rest of the year I surveyed the garden and began planning a layout. However, in the Northwest, plants, trees and shrubs grow like crazy, so by the time the next spring rolled around, obstacles to construction had increased in both size and number. Several re-planning iterations occurred, but eventually I gave up on the idea of an outdoor layout in this setting.

After retirement, I saw a brochure for a prefabricated overhead layout at a home show. This really sparked my interest, and I began looking for additional information in magazines and on the Internet. I found several commercially available overhead systems, and many of them are very nice. However, they can be quite expensive, and none of them would allow me to use the available ceiling space to maximum advantage. I would just have to build the layout myself.

Planning of the Overhead Layout began in the winter of 1998, and construction started in the spring of 1999. Planning time probably equaled the construction time. This layout was “finished” at least a dozen times.

Planning of the Wall Layout began in the fall of 2000. Construction started that winter, and this layout also was “finished” several times. Several structures were added during 2004, a siding for the Speeder was completed in 2005, and a long section of track and a new tunnel portal were added in early 2007 to give a 2-8-8-2 Mallet a place to stretch its legs.

The Eye Level Layout was built in 2002, and the Desk Layout in 2003.

The Z-Scale Layout was begun in late 1997. Buildings were finally finished in 2008, lighting and scenery in 2012.