All aboard!


A G-scale train chugs past a replica of Beardshear Hall, one of four campus buildings portrayed in Reiman Gardens' latest exhibition. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

If you're a train enthusiast and an Iowa State fan, the latest exhibit at Reiman Gardens is a must-see.

Reiman Gardens hired Applied Imagination, a Kentucky company that combines train displays with botanical design and architecture, to create an indoor Iowa State-themed train display in the Hughes Conservatory. The autumn-inspired exhibition, "Harvest Festival," opened Aug. 22 and runs through mid-November. Then the company will transform the display into a holiday show, "Treasures in the Attic," which will run through Jan. 10, 2016.


Watch Reiman Gardens' indoor train display go up quickly in this time-lapse video, taken the week of Aug. 17.

The exhibit features two trains of G-scale cars (about 16.5 inches long, 4.5 inches wide and 6 inches tall) traveling on separate tracks through replicas of several campus buildings, including the Hub, Beardshear and Morrill halls, and the campanile (with recorded carillon music from ISU). Each building is intricately crafted with dozens of plants and botanicals, from roofs of magnolia leaves and shag bark hickory, to cork and elm foundations.

A replica of the historic Dinkey train, which carried passengers between the university and Ames from 1891 to 1907, chugs back and forth along a third track. Also featured in the display are several bridges, two of which are historically significant to the area -- the former Dinkey bridge over Squaw Creek in Ames and the High Bridge over Bass Point Creek near Boone.

Another train is around the bend

If you miss this year's exhibit, never fear. Applied Imagination will create a new holiday train exhibit for Reiman Gardens annually, beginning each November.

Reiman Gardens is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day (open until 4:30 p.m. after Labor Day). Admission is $8 ($4 for youth 4 to 17; free for members, ISU students and kids 3 and younger).