Believe it or not, there is a railroad in central Tallapoosa County that runs from Dadeville to Amsterdam.
The G-scale railroad track and miniature towns along its path were built by retired veterinarian Henk de Visser, who is from the Netherlands, and his wife Vivian, who is from Maryland, beginning about 15 years ago.
The de Vissers live on 10 acres off Dudleyville Road east of Dadeville. Henk De Visser said he laid about 600 feet of the G-scale miniature track and his wife helped create the towns along the way.
The buildings in the Dadeville area of the railroad system include authentic but tiny historic structures. It’s a work in progress, Henk de Visser said.
Vivian de Visser studied old photos of Dadeville on file at Dadeville Public Library before replicating the buildings which include a school, courthouse, bank and a Russell Mills office.
“I like trains,” Henk de Visser said. “I like to build stuff, and I like automation and stuff. The model railroad hobby gives you all possibilities: you can build buildings, you can lay track and the electronics.”
Henk de Visser said he and his wife have three locomotives and about 30 railroad cars. The locomotives are powered by rechargeable batteries. He can sit on his back porch and control the trains with a handheld transmitter.
The de Vissers have a herd of sheep on their spread and a donkey to protect them from coyotes and other predators.
They moved to their farm in 1996 when there was just one main house on the land. Over the years they have added to the house, built vegetable and flower gardens, a large barn and their miniature railroad.
According to Vivian de Visser, she and her husband worked long hours creating their railroad system.
“I just gave him directions; I was the supervisor,” she said.
Some of the buildings along the railroad were bought but most were created by Vivian de Visser. Her buildings are made from thick, flat rock she painted to resemble actual structures in Dadeville and Amsterdam.
“I started just putting some big old stones out there, roughly painting them,” she said. “Then I thought about going into the Dadeville library to see what their old homes looked like. I took photographs and then brought them back and decided I’m not an artist but I can do straight lines, so that’s how I did it.”
One of the last structures she created was an apartment building in the Amsterdam area of the railroad. Anne Frank and her family hid in a similar building before being deported to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
Vivian de Visser said she and her husband visited Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, and she was captivated by the architecture. Holland and the Netherlands are interchangeable when describing that area of Europe.
“(I modeled Amsterdam) just because it’s Amsterdam,” she said. “I had seen (Frank’s) home. When we first moved here we went back and forth but we don’t anymore. I miss Holland more than (my husband) does. I absolutely loved it.”