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Spring Thousand Lakes Region Convention

Exploring the Rails ‘14

This year’s TLR convention will be here before we know it. The convention will start on Friday, May 2 with a morning departure from the hotel to tour an ethanol plant at Merrill, Iowa. The plant is located on the BNSF mainline from the Twin Cities to Sioux City.  After the tour we will continue on to Le Mars, Iowa where we will have lunch at the Plymouth County Museum.

The museum is housed in the former Le Mars High School building. The museum has a diverse collection of artifacts from Le Mars and surrounding areas; everything from farm equipment to a plane that was manufactured in Le Mars at one time.  Also located in the Museum is the Floyd Valley Model Railroad club. The layout will be open for viewing after lunch. We are still working on another tour of a plastics manufacturer which is served by rail in Le Mars.

Friday night will include a reception with light sandwiches and dessert. Entertainment for the evening will feature our guest speaker, Dr. Rudy Daniels. Dr. Daniels is an author, college professor, and railroad historian. He will entertain us with historical facts and interesting stories of railroading. The night will conclude with the TLR business meeting and clinics.

Saturday will start with clinics. Once they are concluded, a tour of Transco Railway Repair will depart from the hotel. Transco repairs freight cars and features a transfer table for moving cars between buildings. The tour will be limited to 90 people. It is important that you get your registration in right away to guarantee a place on the tour.

After lunch on your own, five layouts will be opening for viewing; three HO, one N, and one O scale. Also, the Siouxland Historical Society’s historic former Milwaukee Road roundhouse and shops will be open for us.

The museum has been very busy since the last time the TLR had its convention in Sioux City.   The Great Northern steam locomotive 1355 has been cosmetically restored and the grounds and building rejuvenated. The society was given a 15’ X 75’ HO Scale layout from the Durham Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, NE. They have done an excellent job with this new layout.

Saturday evening will be the grand banquet with Dr. Rudy Daniels entertaining us again. The contest winners will be announced during the banquet. We will also be holding the always popular Chinese auction.  

Sunday morning will begin with the TLR general membership meeting. After that, the Prairie Lakes Division will be putting on a swap meet. This will be a four-hour feeding frenzy of model railroad buying.

For those heading north, the day isn’t over yet! The Otter Valley Railroad Club in Sibley, Iowa has volunteered to have their layout open for anyone traveling that direction. The Otter Valley Club started in 1986 and has evolved into a very large club layout featuring 1630’ of track, 93 switches and mountainous terrain consisting of more than 2000 lbs. of plaster!

The convention has many non-rail activities put together by my wife, Heather. They include tours of Palmer’s Old Time Candy Shoppe, the Sioux City Art Center, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the Orpheum Theater, and of course, there are also many shopping opportunities.

The Stoney Creek Inn in downtown Sioux City will be the site of our convention. It is a modern facility with northwoods decor. The Stoney Creek is offering us a special rate of $99.00 a night. To get the special rate, just mention the TLR convention when you call for a reservation at 1-800-659-2220. The hotel offers a great free hot breakfast daily.

Within the hotel is a small pub. It has a great local historical feel to it and has food and drinks to satisfy everyone’s needs. The hotel also has a  pool that is connected by a waterfall to the outdoor pool. The banquet and clinic area are just a short walk from the hotel rooms. I don’t think you will be disappointed with this hotel!

A more detailed schedule will be emailed to registrants at a date closer to the event. We have a great line up of clinicians that we will include in the email once the schedule is finalized. 

Hope to have you join us for Exploring the Rails in Sioux City!


May TLR PLD Meet