In the beginning I was a gardener. In those early days it was not by choice, everyone in the family helped out. Later I became a model railroader. Then I found out that gardening and model railroading could be combined. Originally this started as a "just for fun" project spurred on by the gift of several copies of Garden Railways magazine from my brother, Frank. Later I thought that it should have a higher purpose. Considering the various skills needed and the end result I got to thinking about two important people in my life. So I decided that this project should be done to honor my father, a Signal Maintainer for the Soo Line Railroad, and my father-in-law, a Civil Engineer for State of Wisconsin. Both were Christians, family men, gardeners, woodworkers, hunters and fishermen. (These men never met each other as Dad died in 1958 and I did not meet my wife-to-be and her family until the mid 1960's.) A further purpose, the railroad provides a gathering place to have fun for family and friends. It is also a reminder of the people and industry that built many of the communities of this part of Wisconsin.
Northern Wisconsin was known for its extensive white pine forests. This resulted in a major lumbering industry with many sawmills in this area including what was once the largest sawmill under one roof just a couple of miles from where I grew up. (That mill was long gone before I came on the scene.) So the original theme for my garden railroad became a 1890-1940 Northern Wisconsin Logging Railroad. A sufficient reason to get a Shay locomotive. This theme was researched by reading several books from our local library and visiting our museum. I also purchased the book Minnesota Logging Railroads at the Scale Model Supplies hobby shop in St. Paul, MN. This book makes frequent mention of Wisconsin logging railroads. This research verified that Shays were used in this area. Several websites provided additional interesting information on logging railroads.
Every railroad has to have a name. It seems that a lot of them are taken from the regions or towns they served, especially the towns at the end points of the railroad. As I started a track plan I created two towns for my railroad to serve, so they needed names too. How about Alville for one; my Dad's name was Alfred but everyone called him, Al. There is even a real town near here on the Soo Line with a similar sounding name, Albertville, where Dad had to go to fix signals. My father-in-law's nickname was Cap so the other town became Captown. That sounds sort of like Capetown, but that is a long way from here. How about "Capville and Altown"? Naaah. So the railroad's name became the Alville and Captown Railroad.
Visit http://www.paul.almquist.name/railroading/acrr/index.html for more about this layout.