Misty Mountain Model Railroad
Owner Charles Griffin is an active member and supporter of Tri-State Model Railroaders and we invite you to visit his Misty Mountain Model Railroad!
The layout is a fantasy journey through sights and cities in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Highlights include a 6′ bridge that raises to allow visitors to enter the display and a 17′ trestle recreated in Tallulah Gorge, the deepest gorge East of the Mississippi. Some 300 pieces from Department 56 are sprinkled throughout communities such as Gainesville (GA), Copperhill (TN), Helen (GA), Kennesaw (GA), Atlanta & Biltmore Estates (NC)
- Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee, GA
- Brasstown Bald Mountain, Blairsville, GA
- Brasstown Valley Resort, Young Harris, GA
- Inman Yard and Atlanta Underground, Atlanta, GA
- Stone Mountain Park
- Battle of Kennesaw, Civil War replica
- Tara, Gone with the Wind replica
- Copperhill Mines and TVA in Tennessee
The quiet town of Blairsville, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, is an unlikely location to build a railroad empire, unless you’re Charles Griffin. Since he was a child riding the Milwaukee Road, Charles has been enchanted by trains. Now in retirement, he has turned his fascination with trains into a hobby that has become an attraction drawing more than 8,000 visitors from around the world to the “O” Gauge layout he named the Misty Mountain Railroad.
Most of us are familiar with Lionel, the dominant manufacturer of “O” gauge trains for most of the 20th Century. “O” gauge and O27 were for decades the most common size trains circling the family tree at Christmas, until they were surpassed in popularity by the smaller, less expensive “HO” gauge. But Charles likes his trains big. And to his thinking, big trains deserve a big layout, so that’s what he built.
His display encompasses an entire floor of a building on the Griffin property, with a central layout that measures 72′ x 55′. But the layout extends far beyond the main display to encircle the entire room, including walls and floor, and soars to within inches of the ceiling. This magical display is the result of 12 years of planning, seven years of construction and the fertile imagination of Charles and his fellow enthusiasts — Ken Kluth, Don Morris and mural painter Jim Fleming.
“In building the project, we never finished one section completely first, instead we worked continuously on the whole layout as if we were designing a three-dimensional sculpture,” says Charles, recalling that visitors often tell him that the entire room looks like a work of art. “We wanted it to be different and have the layout engulf you as you walk through it.”
The Misty Mountain statistics tell the story of true dedication and back-breaking work to bring a dream to life. The bench work (the table, so to speak) has seven tons of lumber and there are 6,000 pounds of plaster in the construction of the mountains and scenery. Fourteen trains can run independently at one time powered by eleven transformers on over a mile of track. There are 12 bridges, all but one handmade, four trestles and 15 tunnels. The bench work is so strong that grown men can, and do, walk on it. Beneath the layout are hidden trap doors for servicing the massive electrical array of wires that help run the trains and illuminate hundreds of buildings, signs and streetlights.
“This is my first and my last, so I wanted to do it right,” says Charles, who encourages everyone to give model railroading a try. “We built this layout without any previous experience, so don’t be afraid to try and build one yourself.”