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
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!
At their fingertips - Model railroaders share a little of
Monday, October 21, 2013
By Magdalene Landegent
The LeMars Daily Sentinel
(Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent) John Davis, of
Emmetsburg, works on a derailed train car on a 12-by-25-foot model railroad
layout while 9-year-old Cameron Berghorst, of Edgerton, Minn., watches. This
rail display was part of Saturday's gathering of model railroaders at the
Plymouth County Historical Museum, in Le Mars.
In homes across the region, people are tinkering in their
basements, glueing together tiny pieces, painting details under magnifying
glasses, creating little worlds. They flip a switch, and on tracks just millimeters wide,
train engines roar to life. Meet your neighbor, the model railroader. (Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent) Caleb Van Der Brink,
of Sioux Center, right, shows visitors the Floyd Valley Model Railroad Club's
rail layout in the Plymouth County Historical Museum. The local club helped
host the gathering of model railroaders at the Plymouth County Historical
Museum, in Le Mars, Saturday. Saturday, in Le Mars, dozens of model railroad hobbyists
gathered at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars to swap stories,
ideas and tricks of the trade. The 2013 fall gathering for the Prairie Lakes Division, the
area chapter of the National Model Railroad Association, hummed with activity
including tooting horns and clanging bells. A yellow and black engine rounded a corner, snaking through
a 2-inch-tall forest. Behind a painted backdrop, a man in a conductor cap kept on
eye on the train's progress. This 12-by-25-foot oval of miniature railroad tracks
includes rock tunnels, a miniature town, ponds and bridges -- and it's all
packable and portable. John Davis, a founding member of the Prairie Lakes Division,
spent Saturday at the controls of this model railroad layout inside the museum. The Emmetsburg man said the group has taken this railroad
layout many places, from conventions to shopping malls. "We travel all over," Davis said. "What we
try to do is promote modeling and get kids involved. It's a good hobby." In a way it's more than a hobby. It's an art form. Many model railroaders construct miniature scenery,
buildings, rail cars and even pieces of track by hand. They paint crags on tiny rock cliffs and add details as tiny
as rail spikes to trestle bridges. Davis, who has been model railroading since he was 18, has
poured hours into this kind of creation. "My railroad layout at home takes up three rooms in my
basement," Davis said, grinning. "I had to punch a hole through walls
a few times to expand it." He piqued his own son Jay's interest at the age of 8. Now Davis' grandchildren are building their own train
layouts. Jay Davis, who now lives in Everly, also spent Saturday in
Le Mars with his father. Jay said he enjoys these biannual gatherings that bring
people from across the region together. "Our division stretches from Sioux City to Mason City
and up to New Ulm, Minn.," he said. "There's good fellowship." John Schneider, of Le Mars, helped host the Le Mars
gathering Saturday. "One of the ideas is to get the public
interested," he said. Another part of the day is education, Schneider noted. Classes on how to create a weathered look on miniature wood
structures and other tricks of model railroading were offered for those
attending. Schneider is a member of the Floyd Valley Model Railroad
Club, which has been building a model railroad layout in the museum for more
than a year. This layout represents portions of Plymouth County,
including local businesses such as Bob's Drive Inn, in Le Mars. Caleb Van Der Brink, of Sioux Center, was at the controls of
the Plymouth County rail layout Saturday. He just started model railroading three or four years ago. "I probably visited a layout like this back then and
thought it was cool, then I gradually started buying stuff until I built my own
layout," Van Der Brink said. "Now I've been helping create the
Plymouth County one." Another young man, Josiah Sunderman traveled from Westbrook,
Minn., to attend Saturday. He said he received his first train set at the age of 10,
and has been model railroading ever since. Now 21, Sunderman looks forward to hobbyist gatherings like
this one. "I know a lot of these guys and it's nice to come see
everyone. It's nice to see the stuff they display," he said. Sunderman isn't the youngest in the crowd. Cameron Berghorst, of Edgerton, Minn., spent part of the day
watching Davis operate the engines on the 12-by-25-foot traveling model railroad
layout. "Do you have a train?" Davis asked. The boy grinned and held out a plastic sack. "I do now," Berghorst said. This is actually his second train purchase, he admits. "I like building tracks and running the trains,"
the 9-year-old said. "My grandpa has a big train set in his basement.
Sometimes I go run them." His grandpa's train set fills the whole basement, Berghorst
added. He's not sure his own parents would appreciate it if he took
over his basement at home for trains. I'm starting small," Berghorst said.