TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Garden Railroad Club is holding its annual backyard tour this weekend. Seven homeowners will open their backyard garden railroad displays for all ages to enjoy.
Bob Buttram is one of those homeowners and President of the Tulsa Garden Railroad Club. He calls his display "Green Acres."
"It started with an itty bitty piece down here, and it just grew," says Buttram.
Now hundreds of feet of track wind through his backyard station.
"We have a lot of fun!" he says.
Buttram has spent the last 17 years building his display. He has more than a dozen engines and at least a hundred train cars. He says he picked up this hobby because he got tired of going to the lake.
"The lake's fine, but I've got Koi fish. I can mess around in the yard, do whatever I want here and enjoy all this," says Buttram.
Much of his backyard treasure trove is handmade with recyclables. You see, Buttram used to work in construction.
"I have a lot of leftovers that were dug up out of the ground. I'd get ahold of the pieces and build something instead of throwing it away," says Buttram.
The flowers and plants are rescues too. The Buttrams buy them from Nursery clearance shelves.
"The ones that about had it, that need some help. We bring those flowers home, nurse them back to, and we put them in here and watch them grow," says Buttram.
This is a family affair. Buttram's wife Sheila paints the people and houses, and Buttram tinkers with the trains. He has a big surprise for the weekend tour.
"We have a replica of the Big Boy which will be running on this track," says Buttram.
Bob is one of nearly 50 Tulsa Garden Railroad club members. The club is a nonprofit; members take layouts to retirement villages and community events. The Garden Railroad Tour helps fund that outreach.
"We've got seven other layouts like mine that are open to the public," says Buttram.
The two-day tour has stops that stretch from Collinsville to Tulsa. A ticket to ride is $5, which covers the whole family for both days.
"It's all about having fun," says Buttram.
Plus, Buttram hopes it might inspire others to jump onboard.
"I would like to see more people in the club to make it last for generations," says Buttram.
Because when it comes to sharing the thrill of the garden railroad at Green Acres, it's full steam ahead.
"It keeps getting bigger, but I think we're gonna settle down...maybe," laughs Buttram.
The Tulsa Garden Railroad Club's annual Garden Railroad Tour is Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 18 1 p.m. -.4 p.m.
Entrance Brochures/Tour Books are $5 and admit one family to all 8 locations. Brochures and layout locations are listed here. You may pick up a Brochure/Tour Book day at any tour location or at Reindeer Pass Railroad (Owasso, OK G gauge Hobby Shop) during regular business hours.