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admin 04.12.2015

The National Model Railroad Association's 75th Anniversary National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was an exciting week-long event!
While I have been a member of the National Model Railroad Association for a number of years (first through the Niagara Frontier Region and later with the Northeastern Region), I never had the opportunity to travel to a National Convention. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the NMRA and the National Convention was held in the city that started it all: Milwaukee. Thursday morning I headed down to the Registration Room to pick up my credentials and name badge. Clinics are a large part of the convention experience, with presentations ranging a variety of topics from modeling techniques to prototype research to design theory and everything in between. I arrived for the tail-end of the convention, so I wasn't able to go on any of the layout or prototype tours. Friday was the first day of the 2010 National Train Show which was populated with hobby manufacturers showing off their latest offerings, many quality vendors to browse, and some excellent model railroads on display. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the exhibition hall, the latest RMC project layout was on display.
The Milwaukee layout offered the perfect opportunity to introduce young people to the hobby.
Model Railroader senior editor Jim Hediger (left) was the keynote speaker for the Convention Banquet. Walthers is known the world over as a distributor and manufacturer of quality model railroad products. My first national convention was a great experience, and I hope to be able to block out more time next year so I can enjoy more of the tours and events.
I just came across some Kodachromes from the early 1950s when my family took a vacation in the west.
I walked down Wisconsin Avenue, but instead of turning left to the museum, I made a right turn to the train station. From the sidewalk on Clybourn and North 2nd Street I could look right into the trainshed where brilliant colored orange and maroon diesels peaked out.
Left alone in a paradise of passenger trains, I had a ball photographing all of the movements in and out of the station. I continued to take train pictures for many years afterwards, but I always treasured that day spent in Milwaukee. Switcher #1645 is about to couple up to a dining car, while diesels on an incoming southbound train are getting attention.
As the noon Chicago train begins to roll on the far track, one of the road’s Alco DL-109s has just come to a stop in the station, blocking my view of the Fairbanks Morse diesels, but the two together made an even better subject.
About to enter the trainshed is a northbound train up from Chicago has a Railway Post Office car in a streamlined consist behind the Alco road diesel.
It is just after 2:00PM and the northbound Afternoon Hiawatha, train 101 pulls in en route to Minneapolis. This view of the west end of the trainshed shows the businesses on Clybourn Street from the Railway Express end of the station.
The roar of an Alco engine got my attention and I got this photo of Alco switcher 1679 about to pull the express car which has just been loaded up. I had just reloaded my film when the crossing gates went down on 5th Street and I just had time to focus to get #1645 running light westbound after having dropped more mail and express cars in the station. The gates are down while train #15 the Olympian Hiawatha up from Chicago pulls in to load passengers for Tacoma, Seattle and points west, while at the center FP7 #91A is ready to leave with a northbound local. The Olympian is now in place with the engine being fueled- the gates go up and street traffic on 5th and Clybourn can move, but motorists off North 5th have to negotiate around the Olympian’s diesel engine in the middle of the street. Look for Carstens and Railroad Model Craftsman at the NMRA 75th Anniversary Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this July 11-18, 2010!
There were so many things to look at… Not just the trains, the engines and cars, but all the figures, cars, animals, and details in the layout.
And then you’ll need to make at least one more trip looking at the vintage railroad engines and cars displayed on the walls and on the side of the layout! The bubbling oil rig lights that look like vintage bubble light Christmas tree ornaments were a complete surprise. You can delete the comment if inappropriate, but I was pointed to this site a year ago by someone, and there were so many train layouts under Christmas trees that I spent the twelve days of Christmas looking at them. I had participated in and helped plan a few regional events, and I found those experiences most enjoyable.
The founding members of the NMRA met in Milwaukee in 1935 to establish the organization and set its goals, and 75 years later are still hard at work making the hobby better for model railroaders everywhere. The Hilton Milwaukee City Center was once the Hotel Schroeder, and was the location of the first NMRA meeting in 1935. At first there was a bit of confusion, as it turns out that there were two registrations on record for me (Carstens Publications had provided credentials for me as well, since I was helping them out at their booth during the event). The feeling faded away as many smiling folks introduced themselves and welcomed me to my first convention. Much of the interest in scale model railroading was inspired by the large railroad display at the 1933 Century of Progress exposition. Schaumburg explained how commuter trains are different from rapid transit and regular passenger locals, and have operating patterns all their own no matter what era or locale is modeled. The goal of RPM is to promote and encourage the modeling of specific prototypes of all eras, to exhange ideas with other modelers, and to encourage manufacturers to release more accurate models.


I'll have to block out more time next year, as there was quite a selection of tours to choose from!
The show was a great way to get connected to what was new and exciting in the hobby of model railroading.
Pictured in the photo above is Publisher Henry Carstens shaking hands with Wayne Wesolowski, long-time contributor and author of Model Railroad Structures From A to Z. Several model railroaders pooled their talents to build this layout, designed to replicate the operations through Milwaukee Station in the mid-1950's.
In this scene, a steam-powered Hiawatha and a train headed up by an Alco DL-109 wait under the trainshed as a Fairbanks-Morse switcher scurries away to fetch mail and express cars. Here we find RMC contributor Gary Quayle instructing a young model railroader in the operation of the Digitrax DCC controller.
The Crystal Ballroom was a very appropriate venue for the banquet, as one could imagine the vintage hall hosting many NMRA functions over the years.
Jim's presentation was a humorous look back at his model railroading career, working alongside such greats as prolific photographer Emery Gulash and legendary editor Linn Westcott. Visit our Facebook page where I have posted more than 100 photos and a couple of videos from the convention. We hope you enjoy this site, and find it a valuable resource for all your model railroading needs. Amidst a sea of maroon and orange, a the Sturtevant Local is about to depart behind a knife-prowed DL-109.
We made a stopover in Milwaukee for a day so my dad could spend a day with an important client.
There were long distance trains to the west, local trains to Chicago and an endless supply of yard engines going about their business of shoving cars around. I remember he told me to eat hearty so I could play for the Packers when I grew up (they probably didn't know what to make of my Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap). I caught my breath as I went up in the elevator, hoping Mom wouldn't be mad at me for being late. Returning for a visit years later, I saw the station had been replaced by parking lots and a new electric company building. On the left, some mail sacks get shoved into place while waiting for loading into an arriving train. On On the left, mail sacks are being loaded onto the wagons off a string of storage mail cars. The Hiawatha, (center) is still rolling slowly as a flagman walks ahead making sure everyone is off the track. On the left, the engine for the North Woods Hiawatha awaits that express car being fitted into the consist before coupling up to the train. By this time of day the Fast Mail, a solid train of mail and express, was starting to be made up for its nighttime run.
Both the railroad and the City of Milwaukee disliked the situation on these crossings, even if it was a young railfan's dream. I don’t recall word for word, but it was so alarming that I indeed remained glued to the station and watched the news especially for that report. I myself was completely smitten with the Lionel Madison Hardware Shop model — there was a miniature model train set in the miniature store window! Growing up, I had always read the exciting post-convention reports in the hobby magazines, which made me feel like I was missing out on something pretty special!
And there were many friendly people from all over the country, and some from as far away as New Zealand!
Hobbs discussed the pioneering suppliers and authors that helped promote the early days of the hobby, as well as landmark developments that helped model production adapt to changing needs. Many of the model builders were present to talk about the work and techniques with curious visitors, and there was a lot to talk about!
Cassette-style staging at either end allowed operators to move trains on and off the modeled portion of the layout quickly and efficiently. The railroad is powered by Digitrax DCC, and all of the turnouts are controlled by manual throws. NMRA president Mike Brestel was the emcee for the evening, presenting many awards and accolades throughout the night.
Now enjoying the involvement of the fourth generation of the Walthers family, the company remains a leader in the hobby of model railroading. With the variety of clinics and tours, the excitement of the National Train Show, and the cameraderie of your fellow hobbyists, it is truly something that every model railroader should experience first hand. To the left a yard engine shuffles express cars on the left while on the right an EMD diesel is about to enter the trainshed.
We arrived at the Schroeder Hotel after dark and I only saw the train station for a few moments but I sure wanted to see the trains in daylight. While I enjoyed the paintings in the museums back home, I wasn’t much for going in and out of department stores all day. At home I almost never got to take photos of trains except once in a great while on family outings to the country. Cook told me that his car, an old one that had run up thousands of miles on the Seattle run years ago, was now relegated to secondary services. My mom opened the door to our room and told me that it looked like I got a little sun today.


The old Public Service building was still there (The tan building with the two smokestacks in the photos), but the railroad right of way west of 5th Street was now mostly parking lots. An Alco switcher shifts cars on the left, and at the center, is local train #262 from Sturdevent with an FP-7 on the front.
It’s not just the rush of the choo-choos, the excitement of their woo-woos, but the chance to build the whole miniature world! But if you consider the years you can take to build and grow your set, it’s achievable to do it piece by piece. I guess it’s like looking at photos of the interiors of General Stores from the past. The easily accessible Frontier Airlines Center across the street was host to clnics, contest rooms, and the National Train Show. Larson showed some simple techniques that are easy to master for creating backdrops with depth and texture. Careful attention is paid to modeling the specific characteristics of a single prototype, and the results are amazing. The two authors hosted a very popular book signing event during the first day of the convention. The model railroad features key elements of Milwaukee scaled down to its most basic interpretations. The steam-powered Hiawatha model is an example of the latest offering from Fox Valley Models.
At first I was a bit apprehensive to sit down at a table full of strangers, but by the end of the night we had become fast friends.
Allen McClelland (center), creator of the well-known Virginian & Ohio, who was the recipient of a Pioneer's Award (along with several other well-deserving folks who have contributed to the hobby over the years). My dad had given me a very good 35mm camera for my birthday—Heaven knows how many lunches he did without in order to buy it—a Contax IIa which took great photos.
I knew the Milwaukee Road operated an attractive fleet of orange and maroon passenger trains out of a compact station downtown, and I was hoping to see one or two trains before I left.
The gates went down and one of the diesel engines on a long train rolled to a stop right next to me. I was wondering what to do, since I sorta used my llunch money to buy another roll of film. He said his old dining car still had lots of good miles left in it, and he proudly showed me his gleaming kitchen and told me that he would rather have this old car than any of the new streamlined dining cars the railroad was getting.
I couldn’t have asked for nicer shooting conditions with a sparkling blue sky and white clouds all day with the parade of trains put on by Milwaukee Road. I didn't feel it, but one look in the mirror showed that my now-sunburned skin had given me away. Using paints, masks, foam and other materials, Larson demonstrated the convincing results from his methors.
There was also a large selection of Carstens products available for sale, while RMC editor Bill Schaumburg made the rounds on the floor of the train show. Even though the scenes have been "selectively compressed," the effect was well-received! Consider joining not only to show your support but also to be immediately welcomed into the world of model railroading! I thought I was in trouble again when a cook in the open door of a dining car called out to me. I couldn’t find the Frankenfurth or Pritzlaff hardware buildings, and even the Gimbels warehouse was gone.
There are those who know, by looking at a photo of a train layout not only when the photo was taken, but where the whole shebang came from.
Local railroad Wisconsin & Southern opened their shops for an inside look at how a modern regional inspects, maintains and repairs its fleet of locomotives and freight cars. While the smell of bacon and eggs frying was tempting, I bought an extra roll of film instead. I showed him a couple of wallet size prints of trains I had brought from home and he seemed impressed. Tours to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin and the Illinois Railroad Museum in Union, Illinois were popular choices as well.
For those looking for a dose of classic "cool," a visit to Milwaukee's own Harley-Davidson motorcycle factory and museum was a must! There were also dozens of great model railroad tours catering to every area of interest, from large clubs to small homes to garden and backyard railways.
A special treat, two restored Milwaukee Road passenger cars were on display at the downtown Amtrak station.
Would it be okay if he comes on the property to take some photos of the trains?” The policeman said it was okay and told me to be careful for trains could move at any time. I thanked them both, and then the engineer was back in his diesel, and the train rolled off towards Chicago.



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