ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) — Biltmore’s newest exhibition “Biltmore Gardens Railway” at Biltmore is drawing big crowds to the estate’s gardens, taking guests on a journey through the past.
With 800 feet of rails, several model trains wind through exotic botanicals and replicas of Biltmore landmarks in the conservatory, serving as an interactive map of sorts with historical information, often relating to the Vanderbilt family’s ties to the railroad industry.
The exhibition tells the story of how railroads played an important role in the construction of Biltmore. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the grandfather of Biltmore’s founder George Vanderbilt, spent his life building an empire based on shipping and railroads.
“When Mr. Vanderbilt moved down this way, we had a railroad that brought everything to the front of the house, for construction purposes,” Biltmore’s Senior Horticulturist Bill Quade explains. “Whenever Mr. Vanderbilt’s guests would come, they would get dropped off at the depot and from there would get shuttled up this way.”
The company Applied Imagination built replicas of major landmarks and buildings on the estate using natural materials from the property, like wisteria vines and bamboo.
Quade says this project is 10 years in the making, and is only the second time an exhibition has been set up inside the conservatory. His team worked closely with Applied Imagination to place plants and flowers seamlessly around the replicas and train tracks, based on plant height to maximize visibility.
An additional part of the exhibition is at Antler Hill Village, where model railroads pass through replicas of international structures George Vanderbilt visited like the Eiffel tower, the Tower Bridge in London and even the arch of the Pisgah National Forest.
Biltmore Gardens Railway is open through September 29th at the conservatory and Antler Hill Village at Biltmore.
Entry is included with admission to the estate. For more information, click here.