February 2016

The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler

My home On30 model railroad depicts a fictional quarry operation based on several that existed in central Virginia. Since the 1980s, I have been making road trips to southern Albemarle, Nelson, and Amherst Counties to hike through the woods to old quarry and mill sites. Back then, steel derricks still rose high above the treetops around Schuyler and outside Alberene. The stone cutting mill campus in Schuyler was still essentially complete, with a full blacksmith shop in the old engine house, and World War I era flatcars rusting away in the weeds. The architectural and mechanical details of the old facility were amazing to me. They struck me as being very "model-genic," but it took about 20 years for me to gain the experience and confidence I needed to rip out the model railroad I was working on and start building a soapstone operation.

Quarry 27 is full of interesting visual compositions and view lines.

In the woods across the river from the town of Schuyler is a line of quarries known collectively as "Number 27." Quarry 27 will be the centerpiece of a new botanical garden that is scheduled to open in the Spring of 2017.

Rough stone stairway built for the new gardens.

When I heard about the garden, it attracted me like a moth to a flame, and now I am working with the builders. They have enlisted me to build an industrial history exhibit depicting the era when the garden site was an active quarry.

Scale mock up of proposed industrial heritage displays.

I somewhat inadvertently talked them into building a model railroad as an exhibit inside the Visitor Center for the Garden. I am going with a very simple O scale 2 rail layout with 4 shadowbox display scenes. The model railroad is based on the Nelson & Albemarle Railroad that once served the area.