Located just minutes from downtown Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood, the Entropic Railroad is simply a fun railroad. So many garden railroads are either a railroad with a garden or a garden with a railroad. Not so the Entropic, for while the railroad is a discreet section of the garden, imagining one without the other is just not possible.
Entering the garden for the first time can be overwhelming. Every space is occupied with plants, a small greenhouse, relaxation spots, railroad memorabilia and, of course, the railroad.
The railroad, like many true urban railroads, is small with a single loop length of 70 feet. Offsetting the shortness of the layout is the muli-track/gauge design. Entropic is one of the very few railroads of any size where you will see gauge 0, 1 and 2 running at the same time.
Except for a small portion of the right of away, the outside of this railroad is inaccessible. Literally all viewing, as well as all operating efforts, are from the inside. Jim and Nancy handle the congestion issues by placing a couple of tables and chairs in the center creating a great location for the inevitable ‘peanut gallery’ while maintaining walking space for steaming.
Construction of the Entropic began in 1995 with the current layout emerging in 2004 after a major rework. The underlying structure is post and frame with concrete board decking. Over time portions of the roadbed have been back filled providing a walled-in effect. A very large steel truss bridge from Eagle Wings takes up the northern most side of the loop. Access to the center of the layout is via a hinged, tilt-up track section.
Operationally the Entropic Railway does not go from anywhere to anywhere nor are there defined ‘towns’. Instead the Entropic is more like a theme park ride with interesting landmarks and settings all the way around. One could spend hours looking and not see every detail or set present. All sets are intended in great fun and regularly cross the line to whimsy or fantasy enforcing the fact that the Entropic absolutely does not take itself seriously.
Leaning toward tin plate heavily, the Entopic clearly reflects the owner’s wide range of interests. While predominantly tin plate alcohol pot boilers, you will find gas and coal fired locos from many sources. Disconcertingly you will even find non-steam powered locomotives including battery power and clock work.
Outline wise, most of Jim and Nancy’s collection is English and more toward 0 scale than anything else. Don’t let this author’s generalization mislead you. You will find almost anything in this outstanding collection in many scales and gauges. For example, a pristine Shay from Jerry Hyde and an Accucraft C19 sit next to Bing and Bassett Lowke built locos and cars.