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Welcome To The PLD


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!


Convention Info Update

Non-Rail Tour Highlights


Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center—Showcases permanent exhibits about the Corps of Discovery's time in the present-day Sioux City area, from late July to early September 1804. The death and burial of Sergeant Charles Floyd on Aug. 20, 1804, is at the center of the story. Floyd was the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi River. Many exhibits use interactive devices, including animatronic mannequins, computers, flip books, stamping stations, text-and-graphic panels, lift-and-drop panels. There are hand-painted murals, a brass-rubbing station, and reproductions of military equipment. The Traditional Native Games exhibit displays more than two dozen reproductions of games artifacts housed at the Buechel Lakota Memorial Museum at St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The Center's Buffalo Robe exhibit highlights the role of the buffalo to Native peoples.

 The Sioux City Art Center—presents exhibitions of local, national and international artists, as well as occasional touring Blockbuster shows. Part of the permanent exhibitions includes a Mural by Iowa Native, Grant Wood.

 Sioux City Historical Trolley Tour and Wine Tasting—Sit back and enjoy an historical tour of Sioux City from its earliest visitors to its founding.  Geographical, cultural and retail history will also be covered. There will be trolley stops at the Floyd and War Eagle Monuments, and a brief visit to the Palmer Candy Company Shoppe for a look at how the company got its start. During the ride there will also be wine tasting available. 

Industrial/Rail tours

 Plymouth Energy, LLC- Ethanol Plant Was established in 2005 in order to design, build, own and operate an ethanol plant in Plymouth County. Located in Merrill, Iowa, PE is in the heart of some of the Corn Belt's most productive corn producing land.  The site is 57 acres on the north side of Merrill and adjacent to the BNSF mainline railroad, was purchased by the founders with the intent to develop both a nameplate 50 million gallons of undenatured ethanol per year (mgy) ethanol plant with the capability to expand it to 100mgy if the economics dictate. Operating from its location in western Iowa, the plant is well positioned to serve local markets as well as current and anticipated markets in western and southwestern United States. 

Gus Pech Well Drilling Equipment—Has been manufacturing earth-drilling equipment for over 130 years. Gus Pech Mfg. Co., Inc. opened its doors in Storm Lake, Iowa in 1879 by Gus Pech and later moved to

Le Mars, Iowa, which is now known as “The Ice Cream Capital of the World,” to be closer to the railroad system.

Transco Railway Products—One of the nation's leading independent providers of freight car repair, modification and rebuilding services to the rail transportation industry.  

2014 TLR Convention Schedule


6:00pm – 9:00 pm                   Registration                 Registration at River’s Bend

Conference Center


7:00am - 5:00pm                     Registration                 Registration at River’s Bend

Conference Center

8:00am                                    Dakota Rm                  Begin accepting contest entries

Non-rail Tours:

8:45am                                                NON-RAIL                Meet at entrance of River’s Bend Conference Center

For the tour of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

11:00                                       NON-RAIL                Tour of the Sioux City Art Center (approx. 1 hour tour)

12:15-1:15                               NON-RAIL                Lunch

1:30-3:00                                 NON-RAIL               History and Wine tasting trolley tour --meet at the

entrance of the River’s Bend Conference Center (approx.

1.5 hour tour)

3:30pm                                    NON-RAIL                Arrival at the hotel

Rail/Industry Tours

9:45am                                    Industrial Tours           Meet at entrance of River’s Bend Conference Center and

Load bus for Industry Tours (**group will alternate between the two tours)

10:30am                                  Industrial Tours           Tour of Ethanol Plant in Merrill (approx. 1 hour tour)

10:45am                                  Industrial Tours           Tour of Gus Pech Well Drilling Equipment Company

in Le Mars (approx. 0.5 hour tour)

12:00pm-1:30pm                     Industrial Tours           Lunch at the Plymouth County Museum

1:35pm                                    Industrial Tours           2nd group dropped off to tour GP Well Drilling

Equipment Company in Le Mars (approx. 0.5 hour tour)

1:45pm                                    Industrial Tours           2nd group arrives in Merrill for tour of the Ethanol Plant

                                                                                    (Approx. 1 hour tour)

3:30pm                                    Industrial Tours           Arrival at hotel



4:00pm-5:00pm                       Iowa Room                 Clinic presented by Fred Headon, MMR on the

Achievement Program

4:00pm-5:00pm                       Siouxland Room         Clinic presented by Doug Harding on Meat packing

plants and meat trains

6:00pm-9:00pm                       Salon C                       Reception of light sandwiches and desserts with cash bar

Rudy Daniels- visual historical presentation of the RR’s in SC

Terry Davis- Building Lifelong Friendships- The Benefits of Being an NMRA Member

9:00pm                                    Siouxland Room         TLR meeting



7:00am-10:00am                     Registration                 Registration at River’s Bend Conference Center


8:00am-9:00am                       Siouxland Room         Program by Robert Blake on the EduTrain program


9:00am-11:00am                     RAIL TOUR              Transco Railway Products Tour

Transportation is on your own Meet at River’s Bend Conference Center to make Car Pool arrangements

You must have your convention badge for admission to the tour. (sign up at registration to receive your time slot)

It takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the tour from the hotel. Please be there 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time!


10:00am-4:00pm                     RAIL TOUR              Visit the Milwaukee Road Shops and Roundhouse ON

YOUR OWN. To receive free admission into the shops and

roundhouse you must wear your convention badge.


10:00am                                 Siouxland Room         Clinic by Charlie Duckworth on his Mopac-Bagnell

Branch Model Railroad

10:00am                                  Iowa Room                 Clinic by Jim Bernier on Decoder Pro

11:00am                                  Siouxland Room         Clinic by Dennis Brandt on using pastel chalks for

coloring and weathering wood

11:00am                                  Iowa Room                 Clinic by John Koskovich on Speed Painting Figures


Noon-1:00pm                                                              LUNCH  {on your own}


1:00pm-4:00pm                       Home Layout Tours    Layout tours {on your own}


6:00pm                                    Salon C                       Social Hour

6:30pm                                    Salon C                       Banquet and contest awards. Rudy Daniels will be the

guest speaker.

8:00pm                                    Salon C                       Chinese auction

9:00pm                                    Siouxland Room         PLD general meeting

 Sunday, May 4

6:00am                                                Salon C                       Set up for swap meet begins

8:00am                                                Siouxland Room         TLR general meeting

9:00am-1:00pm                       Salon C                       Swap Meet

1:00pm-4:00pm                       Layout tours                North bound layout tours. For those traveling North, there

will be 2 layouts open: Rein Vanderhill- Alton, Iowa & Otter Valley Model Railroad Club- Sibley, Iowa

Attention! Do you have a special talent? Are you an excellent flower arranger? Do you quilt? Do you take photographs? Paint or create craft items? Or is there anything else you would like to showcase? Show off your talent at the TLR Convention by entering your craft in the Craft Contest open to all convention participants.


May TLR PLD Meet