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Well, I was 9 when dad (also an EE) and I started our garden railway. In my case, it wasn't dirt, but Star Wars figures that needed transport. I'll definitely echo what others are saying relative to letting his imagination set the course for where you take the railroad.

One suggestion--look for those yard signs made from corrugated plastic. They're workable just like cardboard, and many folks have built some very intricate structures using the material. It's weatherproof, so it can stay outside in the rain (though we all know it never rains in sunny California. :) ). You can often purchase a large sheet of the stuff from a sign shop for larger projects.

Enjoy the journey.

Later,

K
 
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