At the Home of "the Train Lady"

One of our favorite “events” is when Elaine Silets of “Huff and Puff Industries”, known as “the Train Lady”, opens her home for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. Her gorgeous 10-acre property is home to not only her family and business, but also five different gardens and miles of model trains interspersed. All in all, there is approximately 6,000 square feet of railroad, bridges, vignettes, and waterfalls and lakes to view.

Quite frankly, its a train lovers dream.

Before we can even get to the gardens, the kids need their first (but not last) ride on the train:

I simply couldn’t seem to take a picture this particular morning to capture how extensive and spectacular the main garden was – its very spread out and the magic is diluted without the detail (and with all the other people interspersed.) Mrs. Silets creates – and creates is the correct word to be used – garden railways for people and companies all over the world. These aren’t the basement railways of our childhood – the one-track layouts start at $7K and garden layouts at about $20K. These, needless to say, were spectacular.

Could he BE any more excited?
One of the most impressive bits of the property is the train layout Elaine created for her late husband, Harvey. Outside, it looks just like an old train depot. But inside? Ohhhh. Inside is a replica of the city of Chicago.


I was thrilled that we had the opportunity to see it, as I thought that last year might be the final viewing – she has donated it (the value estimated at over a cool $2mil) to the City of Chicago last year.
One of MY favorite places is her Japanese stream garden and its little train.

Perhaps a bit TOO peaceful for Princess Pea….
But lovely nonetheless….
It was one of the first real summer days we had experienced – sunny skies, warm weather, being together watching the kids’ faces light up with each discovery, and lots of lots of trains – it was a perfect family outing.

Leave a Reply