History of the Arborway T.T. & Northwestern

John and T.T. The idea for the Arborway, T.T. and Northwestern Railroad came out of a conversation around the year 2000 between John Woods and his mother, Marjorie Woods (Tee Tee). Tee Tee had recently had a near death experience which is another story, but they made a decision to do something that would become a focal point for family gatherings. Many of the family members had moved away and had not been in communication with each other. John's family has long been a landholder in the area around the Meremec River West of Steelville, Missouri. John's grandfather, Woodson K. Woods (Tee Tee's father-in-law) first acquired land in the area in the 1920's. Part of that original parcel is now called Chaumiere Farms.

John and his mother, Tee Tee, settled on building a miniature railroad on a portion of the property which would comprise this special family compound. They did so after Tee Tee and John visited the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific and the Transportation Museum in St. Louis County as well as the railroad at the St. Louis Zoo. These visits, as well as books and printed materials about miniature railroads encouraged them to go ahead with this major project.

Tee Tee and John - early 1950s Tee Tee and John spent many hours when John was a small child watching trains at various locations around the St. Louis area. The viaducts over the rail yards in downtown St. Louis were favorites as well as areas in Webster Groves and Kirkwood along the Frisco and Missouri Pacific lines. Tee Tee was into antique furniture and often would take John by the old Wabash station on Delmar after an antique shopping trip to the Central West End or Gaslight Square area. Needless to say, they didn't know what they were getting into as the Ozark Mountain terrain isn't very railroad friendly.

Optimists ever, they forged ahead, hiring engineers and contractors to fulfill their dream. Over the years, John Woods had purchased what has become known as Woodsvalley Farm adjacent to Chaumiere Farm. It is on Woodsvalley Farm that the Arborway, T.T. and Northwestern Railroad is being constructed.

While the railroad is a private undertaking, there is an obvious need to have an "Auxiliary of the Arborway, T.T. and Northwestern" to help in the maintaining of what we believe to be a first class 15" gauge miniature railroad. A "Friends" group has been formed and interested parties are encouraged to join us in this significant undertaking. Interested parties should visit the ATT&NW Friends page on this site for more information and Application. Tee Tee's railroad will need much love and care in the years ahead. Most of these hobby, park, zoo, museum, and even commercial miniature railroads require a Friends/Auxiliary type group to help with the upkeep and operation.

John drives the Golden Spike The first few years were mainly spent with earthmoving equipment developing and preparing the roadbed to avoid steep grades and sharp curves. Knowledgeable and professional miniature railroad people advised us to avoid grades greater than 2% and curves with a radius shorter than 200 ft. With few exceptions we have complied with those suggestions. While Tee Tee's age (95 on August 1, 2006) has kept her visits limited, she has been involved in all key decisions.

Our first steam locomotive, a 4-8-4 Northern, built by Darrell Klompmaker, at the Merrick Light Railroad Shops in Marshall, Wisconsin, is numbered 801 in honor of Tee Tee's birthday August 1st. Tee Tee and John Woods share a common love of quality in buildings. For example, when designing the station, Tee Tee was insistent that it have a slate roof. So Tee Tee needs to get credit for many of the first class quality designs built into the Arborway, T.T. and Northwestern.

The railroad is nearing completion of the first phase of construction (actually if the truth be known railroads are never complete) and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Chief Engineers John Bishop, Alex Beams, and Darrell KlompmakerOur first Chief Engineer, John Bishop, moved from California with his wife, Mindy, and their family to Missouri for nearly two years and was instrumental in the unprecedented progress of laying rail and other major construction projects. John's team of 6 young men, ages 18 to 22 years old, set what we believe to be a record of 1,000 ft. of finished track laid in one day. We think that says a great deal about the quality of Ozark Mountain stock. Following John, the job of Chief Engineer was passed to Darrell Klompmaker from Marshall, Wisconsin. Darrell has a very strong relationship with many in the miniature train community as well as the ATT&NW Friends group. During 2007 Darrell passed the Chief Engineer baton to Alex Beams, so Alex is now our Chief Engineer. Darrell still functions as a close friend and advisor to our railroad. We are looking forward to numerous improvements to our railroad in the years ahead. Throughout the construction we have made many mistakes and errors but the entire team involved is very proud of what we have achieved. We find we learn every day which is part of the fun. We have an active "Friends" group who are involved with the railroad and we welcome others who are interested in joining us.