Living Desert’s Bighorn Railroad

See The Desert’s Largest Train Display

Choo Choo! Many guests and members wonder how, why, and when the infamous train display came to be at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. The Zoo’s first train display began during the 1998 WildLights season as a temporary holiday display. It was such a fan favorite that it became a permanent part of The Living Desert in 2001. Over the years, the railroad has grown into a beloved and unique part of The Living Desert and one that delights guests of all ages.

The Living Desert’s Bighorn Railroad features G-scale model trains and tracks. G-scale means the size is approximately ½ inch to the foot or 1:22.5 inches (about twice the size of Lionel trains). Set on ¾ of an acre, the train display has more than 3,115 feet of track with 18 distinct inter-connected train lines. The mainline train travels on 980 feet of track and runs through Old Indio, past the Grand Canyon and alongside the mining and logging areas. The Living Desert’s Bighorn Railroad also boasts the world’s longest wooden G-scale train trestle measuring 202 feet and 8 inches.

The trains operate from 0-18 volts of DC electricity by going through the rails, picked up by the wheels on the locomotive and onto the motors. The larger locomotives have two motors while the smaller ones only have one. The amount of electricity used for one train is about the same as a 25-watt light bulb. The trains are all powered and directed from the control tower located in the middle of the tracks.
Over the years, volunteers and staff have built the railroad and displays with incredible accuracy. Each display is built by hand and can take months to complete. The railroad is maintained daily with painstaking detail like sweeping the tracks and roads with a paint brush and hand clipping the bonsai trees with scissors. During your next visit, we encourage you to spend a little extra time at the Bighorn Railroad and see what unique and fascinating details you can find.
Story brought to you by the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

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