Dan's Emerald Forest.

Dan's Emerald Forest

Field review by the editors.

Overland, Missouri

It was in the late 1990s when landscaper Dan Schmidt began transforming his front yard into a miniature world.

At first, he turned the front steps into his house into a waterfall. Next came miniature trees and buildings. He heard about G scale model trains -- larger than most, built to survive the outdoors -- and incorporated them, too. He designed tunnels so the trains continually ran from the yard into his basement for inspection and repair.

Dan eventually christened the yard Dan's Emerald Forest. He originally thought of it as a holiday season display, but it's grown into a year-round attraction, with miniature tableaus switched in and out as Dan sees fit.

The Forest Church.

When we visited, Dan was featuring a miniature drive-in theater, a group of railroad strikers, a Rock City barn, and a church with newlyweds. The displays change frequently, and Dan runs his mini-world at night, too. It's proven so popular that Dan, now in his sixties, has installed a park bench along the sidewalk for the comfort of visitors who want to spend time scrutinizing the Emerald Forest, an enjoyable exercise even when the trains aren't running.

Dan's Emerald Forest

Address:
8851 Windom Ave., Overland, MO
Directions:
I-170 exit 5. Drive west on Hwy 180/St. Charles Rock Rd for less than a mile. Turn left (south) at the stoplight onto Brown Rd. Drive two blocks, then turn left onto Windom Ave. You'll see Dan's yard up ahead on the left.
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