About the Fairplex Garden Railroad

Overhead view, 2024 LA County Fair / Photo by Steve Dodge

History of the Railroad

The Railroad

First established in 1924 and moved to its present location in 1935, it was a unique example of craftsmanship utilizing hand-made replicas of real railroad operating equipment; much of which were built by local high school students. Examples of this equipment are on display in the present shop building located in the rear center of the Garden Railroad.

     Today, there is over 10,000 feet of operating track, double the amount in 1996, with over thirty sections of mainlines and various operating equipment can be seen operating at any time, especially during the annual Los Angeles County Fair each September. The  trains and trolleys operate past several scenes depicting California history from the 1850s to present day, and wander through the mountains, over the lakes and streams, and through the gardens.

     The Fairplex Garden Railroad has been featured on Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television and in the online hobby magazine Garden Railways, as well as many international publications in England and Europe. In the Spring of 2024, articles about the 100th anniversary of the exhibit were published in the online Magazine Garden Railroading News,  and  Garden Rail, a Garden Railroad magazine published in the UK (Garden Rail, May, 2024 Issue No.357, pp.6-11). A local columnist, David Allen published a story entitled “ LA County Fair’s Garden Railroad – still chugging along after 100 years.which was published in various local newspapers and the Orange County Register. Links to these publications may be found on our Blog page.


Come and Visit

It is only during the LA County Fair that all of our scenes are on display. In addition, Visitors may watch multiple trains operate at one time. During the fair, our tours are open from 11 AM to 8 PM and trains operate until 9:30 PM. The  Garden Railroad is also open to the public to enjoy on the second Sunday of each month, from 11 :00 AM to 4 PM, unless closed due to rain. You may also find the Garden Railroad operating for special events held at Fairplex during the year on dates other than the second Sunday of the month. These events as well as any weather closures are normally listed on our website.