The Little Mining Town of Rainbow Ridge

Rainbow Ridge was the approximately 5/8 scale mining town that once served as the backdrop and marquee for Disneyland's Mine Train thru Natures Wonderland and Pack Mules attractions. The colorful little western buildings were not accessible to the public, but that didn't stop them from fueling my imagination as a kid. The Mine Train closed in 1977 to make way for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but some of the Rainbow Ridge structures were preserved and repurposed for the queue of that attraction.

In December of 2018, I decided to model my own version of Rainbow Ridge on the Thunder Mesa Mining Company layout. The town of Thunder Mesa was already heavily influenced by Rainbow Ridge, but I wanted a version of the town that was more faithful to the 1960's original. This series of posts follows the progress of that project to date.

The first step was to design the structures. I used vintage photos from my collection, and scaled the models up to full 1/4" scale based on known dimensions like the relative sizes of doors and windows. The buildings are designed to be built in shallow relief since they will sit right up against the backdrop.

The next step was to prepare the site. I made some changes to the backdrop and added a new spur track off the mainline. Using the structure plans I had made, I built paper and cardstock mock-ups of all of the structures and arranged them on a foamcore base. Since Thunder Mesa's depot was being replaced by a new Grizzly Flats/Frontierland style station, I also made plans to relocate the original depot to Rainbow Ridge where it would fit in well with the smaller sized buildings.

Some Grandt Line balustrade railing was added to the depot platform to keep little folks from falling into Coyote Canyon, then the lights were hooked up again to bring the depot to life.

With the structure mock-ups, new spur, and depot in place, I had a good feel for how the scene was coming together. Next comes some fully built shallow relief structures to replace those mock-ups. Stay tuned!

The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,

2 thoughts on “The Little Mining Town of Rainbow Ridge

  1. Nice job Dave!! I can remember walking through the village every night on the closing shift, we would have to walk the tracks on Thunder.

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