Weathering winter in the woods

A photo essay of snowy operations
Fall is the time many builders begin preparing their railroads for harsh winter weather that lies ahead. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate climate zone. In the weeks before the cold arrives, some folks start to stow their structures, drain water features, and tuck the trains away for months of hibernation. But for a few brave, hardy, and weather-tested souls like me, winter is the best time for our railroads to shine! For us, fall is when we prepare the railroad by clearing the leaves, ballasting and leveling the line, repairing my scratchbuilt wooden structures, testing the lights, and setting the stage (trains, figures, and vehicles) for the first snowfall!
Shawn Viggiano
Shawn Viggiano isn’t one to shy away from running his Kittatinny Mountain RR (featured in the Fall 2019 issue) on a cold winter day. In fact, he rather enjoys the challenges and rewards that stem from firing his live-steam locomotives, even when the temperature drops to 6˚ Fahrenheit and the snow can be measured in feet. Not being the type to let Mother Nature win, Shawn grabs a warm coat, picks up a child-size shovel, and then starts to clear the way for trains and places to capture impressive winter images like this. To help get you into the spirit of the season, we’re sharing even more of Shawn’s magical wintry compositions here.
Shawn Viggiano
Cold has arrived at the Kittatinny Mountain Railroad (KMRR), and a storm is certain to follow. The wayward showshoers pause momentarily to warm by the scale campfire Shawn made from fatwood shavings (fire starter sticks). But these two won’t linger if they hope to flee the forest before the sunlight fades and snowflakes fly.
Shawn Viggiano
Shawn Viggiano
As the KMRR’s Accucraft Shay ties down for the night, westerly winds begin to usher in a light dusting of snow. A few inches of fresh powder is a minor matter for a plow, but the approaching front threatens to produce far more precipitation overnight. A rapid retreat to warm cabins and cottages is in order for all!
Shawn Viggiano
Shawn Viggiano
Shawn Viggiano
At the break of day, snow removal promptly gets underway. Although some railroads are resigned to hibernate under these conditions, the KMRR bears down and plows through.
Shawn Viggiano
Having weathered the storm, the Kittatinny Mountain Railroad’s Regner Konrad 0-4-0T steams gently along the timber trestle, under the descending rays, and through another wintry day in the woods.
Shawn Viggiano
Even in the darkest hours of the night, a thickening blanket of snow can become a thing of beauty. That’s especially true when the pruned dwarf conifers and scratchbuilt wood structures are set aglow from the light of previously strung ornamental fixtures


Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Get the Garden Railways newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Garden Railways magazine. Please view our privacy policy