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"They are my inspiration!" Owasso Dad creates train display for his kids

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 28, 2024

OWASSO, Okla. — In a quiet Owasso neighborhood sits a little red caboose, and the story behind that little red caboose is about a father's love for his children.

"I have three children, and they all have special needs. I have two boys who have Autism, and then my daughter, Catherine, has Down syndrome," said Greg Yankey.

When Greg discovered the connection his kids, especially his oldest, Christopher, had to trains, the hobby took off.

"There's something about trains and Autism that go together. They just like the orderliness of it and having things lined up in a certain way, so he really responds well to watching the trains going around," said Greg.

So Greg built a double-raised garden railroad display, to enjoy with his family outdoors. The collection has grown from there, and the amount of yard space he's dedicated to it.

"Since I'm a teacher, I put a kit together, which is a schoolhouse. I have an actual school bus little car," said Greg.

He has all sorts of locomotives that he's purchased, and custom box cars, that he hand-painted.

"My son is a big Scooby Doo fan, so I made one that's the color of the mystery machine," said Greg.

The backyard is only one stop on the Yankey line. Around the side of the house, there are fun railroad signs.

Up front, we find a chain of train planters. There's another working garden railroad there, too—that one ladybug-themed for one more family member.

"I kind of surprised my wife one year by putting that little one out front," said Greg.

Greg's latest build is near the curb, his hand-crafted little red caboose Little Free Library.

"I put some instructions there so people know it slides out," said Greg.

It took some "engin-uity" to build- with shingles, flashing, and even a working light on top.

"Yes! It's noticeable at night. Then I registered it, so it's officially registered Little Free Library, so it's on the app," said Greg.

Inside, it's brimming with books. "You can take any books you want; you don't have to leave a book because I've got plenty more books to feed into it," said Greg.

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Greg also made a reading bench and flower box so folks can sit and stay a while.

The devoted Dad said he's also on board with opening up the rest of his yard to other families. "If somebody wanted to come and have me show it to them, I would do that for them."

Because for the Yankeys, life, like this train hobby, is an open book.

"The kids just love it when people come out and visit!" said Greg.

The Owasso Yankey Garden Railway Little Free Library is at 7609 N. 126th East Ave in Owasso.

The Yankey Family's Train Display will be part of the Tulsa Garden Railroad Tour this September.

You can learn more about that here.

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