That's what many visitors have exclaimed upon seeing the exquisitely detailed model railroad layout at the Historic Railroad Shops, home of the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Located just off Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, one block south of the Savannah Visitors Center, the Historic Railroad Shops are an ideal site for a model railroad. The Coastal Rail Buff's club has designed and constructed our HO scale layout with care and attention to detail worthy of a museum exhibit. The model railroad layout depicts scenes in Georgia with the majority focusing on Savannah in the near past and present time, and since there's no time like the present, let's go for a tour.

As you enter the exhibit room, you've now reached the heart of Savannah in 1/87th scale. The layout begins with a typical subdivision of ranch homes lining the bluffs on the east side. Moving into the layout room, you will see the famed " Waving Girl" statue, street vendors, the ancient cotton warehouses These buildings are now home to gift shops and restaurants facing on River Street, their upper floors open onto Factor's Walk, and from there to Bay Street. Bay Street displays many downtown buildings, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the visitor's information building and towering over all is the golden dome of City Hall capped by the City of Savannah Flag. All of this is along the historic River Street, home of the "River Street Rambler." A unique train, the Rambler serves industries at either end of River Street, and rumbles right down the middle of the street so popular with tourists.

Beyond the hustle and bustle of Bay Street lies Historic Savannah: elegant, quiet and inviting. The squares are havens of serenity, a respite from the everyday world of business and commerce. In fact, if you observe closely, you can be a guest at a wedding, or overhear the conversation Forrest Gump is having at the bus stop. Across from the square on your left is the Cathedral of St. John, its twin bell towers capped by crosses, overlooking the quiet Colonial Cemetery.

Moving through downtown to the west side, you will see the Bay Street viaduct, the new bridge across the Savannah River, (if you don't like ours, turn around and look out the window at the real one) and the Georgia Ports Authority facilities and other complexes. Viewing beyond the ports, you see a depiction of the Historic Central of Georgia Railroad Shops, complete with roundhouse, turntable. Look closely and you might see the coach you may have rode in today at the museum! Just beyond that is the Central of Georgia passenger station (now the Visitors Center ), with several trains awaiting travelers.

Moving on, you'll see a coal-fired power station and around the bend a lumber facility that is important to the Georgia economy. Heavy traffic includes the ever-present trucks, buses and even the occasional fender-bender. A small passenger station is the last stop before crossing an impressive trestle and around to the double-track tunnel under the mountains of north Georgia. On the other side is a busy diesel locomotive shop, complete with a transfer table. The busy railroad yards are along the back wall, filled with many different freight cars awaiting delivery to destinations all across the US.

Although the days of the glamorous streamliners are long gone, we can relive their excitement today with these true-to-life model trains.

This ends our tour of the Coastal Rail Buff's HO layout, to the right in the next room is our N Gauge Layout.


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