Custom-Built Wooden Garden Railway
Trestles, Bridges, and Buildings




Follow and Friend Me on Facebook

I build custom garden railroads, specializing in amazing, authentic, hand-built wooden trestles. My own Daniel Smith Family Railroad in Prunedale, California features 940 feet of hand-spiked track, 15 redwood trestles, 2 hand-bored tunnels through native sandstone, and 40 scratch-built structures including 4 mines, an oil derrick, and a saw mill, all designed with the look of the 1880-1900s era.

The Daniel Smith Family Railroad is a showpiece of extreme garden railroading, featuring corkscrew tight-radius curves and unusually sharp angles of ascent and descent.

They said it couldn't be done -- so I did it!

When you choose Daniel Smith Railroads, your garden railroad will be built to suit your own style. I say "yes!" and then I do it.

Do you want a simple "roundy-round" for the grandkids? I can build it.

Do you want to add an extension to your existing garden model railroad layout? I can work with you to design, lay out, and build what you want on-site, and to seamlessly integrate it into your current railway.

If your interest is in operations and switching, I talk your language. My railroads are functional as well as beautiful.

If you are new to garden railroading, I can help. With my extensive experience and many contacts in the train modeling field, I can work with you to assemble a professional team of specialists in every area of railroad modeling, including Don Herzog of Miniature Plant Kingdom, an experienced consultant on water feature design and miniature landscape garden planting.

Here is a close-up of one area of my own home layout at Daniel Smith Railroad. I call it "The Colossal," because it packs the most features into the smallest amount of space. Taking advantage of the natural sandstone rock hillside, I have created a place like no other.

I will build your garden railroad to suit your ideas. You tell me what you want -- I will build it. I will scratch-build barns, houses, farmsteads, bridges, trestles, train depots, water tanks, tunnel portals, and complete industries, either by following prototypical historical photos or by modeling your own favorite buildings of any era or any location.

This picture shows me standing by the stakes that marked the grade for the 13' long S-curve trestle at the Lucky Mojo Curio Company site in Forestville, California. The owner, Catherine Yronwode, hired a team of experts to get her first G-Scale train layout running in time for a Spring open-house.

This picture shows the construction phase of a very large trainyard at a client's house in Northern California. The finished yard features a turntable and room for side-line display of extra rolling stock.

I split my own shingles and hand-stamp my own corrugated roofing tin to give your garden railroad layout that authentic prototype look that only a professional model railroad builder can provide. Why settle for cheap-looking plastic models when you can have unique, custom-built all-redwood buildings, trestles, and bridges from Daniel Smith Railroads?

This picture shows me adding a new extension to Ed Hutton's railway layout in Scott's Valley, California. Built on-site, so you know it's right.

I work on live steam layouts as well as track-power and battery-power layouts. Live steam requires exacting adherence to standards of a level roadbed and smooth curves. This is the first stage of construction at a large live steam layout being built for a client in Northern California.

I build in all popular G-Scale or garden railway scales, including 1:20.3, 1:22.5, 1:24, 1:29, and 1:32. I also build in 7/8th scale for live steam model railways. You tell me what you want, and I'll build it, from a single water tank to a completely installed G-Scale layout of any size.

Because my work is all custom-made, I leave it to you to decide upon the look you want. Trestles are raw redwood and will age naturally, but farm and town buildings are built and finished to suit your own style. Completed structures can be finished as raw redwood, painted to look "as new" to your color specifications, or artistically weathered to give a patina of rust to the old tin roofs, and water-stains on the weathered boards.

Here you can see the redwood trestles I built for Ed Hutton's layout in Scott's Valley, California after one year, naturally aged to prototypical perfection.

Sometimes the railroad takes the scenic route through and around existing garden features. These tall trees cannot be moved, so the right-of-way snakes in and around them. The box at the right is a tunnel under construction. This is a one-time-only look "behind the scenes" at a very large home layout. All of these features were fully covered, rocked, and landscaped, with input from the client.

Do you want a gazebo in your yard so that you and your guests can sit and watch your train? I will build it for you from scratch.

This is a one-third scale gazebo and a Japanese bridge I built for the enjoyment of my own kids in Prunedale, California, complete with a series of waterfalls. Everything is one-third scale, so when the children stand on the bridge, they look like adults!

I build custom railway switches and can fabricate what you want in whatever style you want or need.

These are switches I built for Llagas Creek Railway; I have an entire switch-building room to one side of my woodshop, and that is where I do my metal smihing and black-smithing.

Every garden railroad layout looks better with people on it. You need engineers, brakemen, and conductors to run the train, and they are there to serve the folks who are working on your farms and in your industries, or just standing around the depot, waiting for the train.

I use polymer clay to hand-craft scale-appropriate men, women, and children to add personality to your garden railroad. I can model you and your whole family standing at the station or overlooking the railroad right-of-way from the porch of a scratch-built replica of your own home. Whimsical touches like this are easy to achieve when your garden railroad is custom-built with the help of a master model-maker.

This picture shows a scale model of the Roaring Camp engine house in Felton, California, as built on my own home layout in Prunedale, California.

I do customization and detailing for clients who have a vision but cannot implement it themselves. This is one of eight little mining ore cars for the Lucky Mojo Curio Company garden railroad in Forestville, California. Because the shop sells crystals, the owner asked me to add a mining line to the layout that I had previously built for her. She supplied the real quartz crystals and I crafted the load -- as well as the entire mine line!

I am a master woodworker, and I can quickly design, build, and install full-scale surroundings to suit your backyard garden railroad. I will work in any style, to match any era or any prototype, including Gold Rush mining towns, Redwood logging camps, Victorian towns and villages, Depression Era country farms, or contemporary modern urban layouts, to complement your home or contrast with it, as you choose.

This picture shows construction work on tunnels and trestles for Don Herzog of Miniature Plant Kingdom in Occidental near Sebastopol, California. This massive layout features beautiful stonework, water features, and Don's artistic bonzai trees.

As a master woodworker with an interest in historical re-enactment and several ponies in the family, I am often called upon to recreate worn-out or broken wooden parts for 19th century items. Here I am crafting a part for a historic wooden horse-drawn ambulance wagon used in Civil War re-enactments.

If you are working under a deadline, have an upcoming open house, garden party, or even a wedding planned and you need track and trains on the ground quickly, call me. If I have an open spot on my calendar, I will devote myself to meeting your deadline. I deliver on my promises because building railroads is my passion as well as my job. As a client, you will always have my full attention.

This picture shows one of my finished trestles at the Lucky Mojo Curio Company site in Forestville, California. Construction and installation time? Two days. That's the advantage of hiring someone who brings all his own tools, has years of carpentry and modeling experience, and works for you on-site -- the structures you want are crafted and go in fast! Two smaller trestles were built after this one in one more day. Total trestle time: Three days.

Two years after I built the layout at the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. in Forestville, California, the owner wanted an expansion. I broke through under the existing benchwoork and built her a separate mining line on its own loop, near ground level. It pierces through and extends outside the boundaries of the original layout. The second layout features four tunnels and two trestles. This photo shows construction of an S-curve horseshoe bend trestle as it enters and exits the area of benchwork on the upper line. If you compare this picture to the one above, you will see that the new testle is just behind where I was sitting in the top photo, and the benchwork that is in raw form above is the same area where I removed large sandstone facer rocks and cut through the mortar to create tunnel portals for the mine line. Total trestle time on this complex feature: Three days.

I regularly travel to build model railroad trestles and buildings on-site, and most of my work is on view in Northern California, but if you know what you want, I can build it from your photographs or plans and ship it to you. This includes complete wooden trestles, bridges, country stores, farm houses, and industrial buildings, ready for you to install.

This picture shows the construction of a very large wooden trestle for Al Tillman's railway in Santa Rosa, California. This redwood structure is 24' long and 25" high, built in 1:29 scale, with 45 trestle bents on a 10' radius curve -- hand-made in my shop for installation on Al's backyard patio layout.

I pre-mill all of the lumber for your trestles, abutments, and bridges at my own woodshop, then bring my tools and "lumber yard" with me to your site. These pieces are destined to be used on a client's layout in Northern California, but if you need me elsewhere, my moto is, "Have lumber, will travel."

See My DanielSmithRailroad Youtube Channel
For More Fantastic Model Train Layout Videos

Visit My Other Fine Woodworking Sites


I build one-of-a-kind inlaid wooden boxes using rare hardwoods to house, store, and transport live steam locomotives. SteamBoxes.com is the only place you will find these affordable luxury accoutrements for the live steam hobby. Each one is different, and I will work with you to create a unique inlay design that will distinguish your personal Steam Box from all others.

Visit SteamBoxes.com for an image gallery of styles and sizes of hardwood transport and storage boxes for live steam locomotives.



The SmithWoodenBoxes.com site showcases my work as a designer and artisan of fine and fancy wooden boxes of all sizes, types, and styles, including my signature striped ribbon-and-bow boxes, pirate treasure chests, dove-tailed chests, and marquetry inlaid boxes in fancy-figured hardwoods. The Smith Wooden Boxes shop was started in July of 2008. We are a family who handcraft our products from wood. Find our wooden boxes and meet the Smith family at local craft shows or place an order online via our web site.

Visit SmithWoodenBoxes.com for an image gallery of styles and sizes of hand-crafted wooden boxes and chests.