PERU The sign behind Carl and Sally Kokes home reads Bach Yard and Meditation Station. The backyard does have the music of Bach emanating from some 15 speakers. It also has a beautiful gazebo and quiet pond. Beautiful flowers and plants abound. Still there are other sounds and movements. Along with Bach theres also the sounds of circus music and circus animals, trains moving, train bells ringing and whistles blowing. This backyard is the home of a garden railroad meaning a model railway system set up outdoors in a garden. It has fascinated hundreds of people over several years.
In many respects Carl Kokes interest in garden railroading reflects his lifetime experiences. He grew up in a family with a father who was a Canadian National Railroad employee. Carl taught music at Plattsburgh High School for 27 years and 10 more years at Clinton Community College. He still teaches violin to some 16 students. And, oh yes hes a master gardener.
Kokes interest in model railroading started 10 to 12 years ago. While traveling in Florida he visited a hobby shop. Kokes explained, A gentleman was busy buying up almost everything related to trains in the store. I asked who he was and I was told he was the King of Malaysia. A short time later Kokes picked up a Garden Railway Magazine where he saw an advertisement for the Vermont Garden Railway Society. Visits to Vermont and offers of help followed. Carl Kokes was hooked.
The G scale model train is built to a scale of 1 to 22.5. A boxcar, for example, is fifteen inches longs, seven inches high and four inches wide. An adult male figure is three to five inches in height. Since laying down his first track in his backyard 10 years ago Kokes has gradually improved his trains and their surroundings. Four years ago he trucked in 29 tons of crushed stone to improve the track base. In March of this year he made a major change by adding an over and under track layout.