The Train Collectors
Associations 49th annual convention was hosted by the Western
Division June 22nd through the 29th, 2003 at the
Ontario Convention center
and the adjoining Doubletree Hotel & Resort just outside Los Angeles
in sunny Southern California. Click
here for photo gallery.
The Convention was well attended with over 681 TCA members registering. Attendees
came from as far away as Germany and South America. Combined with family
members, total attendance exceeded 1400.
Western Division planned many exciting activities to take place during the
8-day event. These offerings included home layout tours, excursion train rides on
Amtrak & MetroLink, a dinner cruise in Newport Harbor, day trips to
museums such as the Getty Museum, the Orange Empire
Railroad Museum, The Nethercutt Museum, and the Los Angeles County Travel Town
Train Museum. One of the highlights of the tour agenda was a trip to visit the
backyard railroad and large train collection of noted TCA Charter Member Ward
Kimball. As well, popular
Southern California attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios
were on the itinerary.
The modern and spacious convention hall
served as a fitting location for the Western Division Convention Welcome Party
and provided 2 days of access for the convention attendees to some of the finest
toy train exhibits and trading imaginable. There was a huge 40,000 square foot
trading hall filled with the greatest toy trains from all over the country. And
there was another 28,000 square foot hall filled with modular layouts
and unique displays. The theme for the convention was 'Hollywood and Trains', which
was represented by an extensive exhibit of movie memorabilia from films where toy
trains were part of the cast.
The excursion to the
Museum, which houses the largest collection of trolley cars, railway locomotives
and railway cars in the Western United Sates, was a true highlight of
the convention. There are numerous operating Red Cars
(Pacific Electric) and Yellow Cars (LA Railway- Narrow Gauge)
in the mix
Ward Kimball’s new Train Barn built at the museum to house the “Grizzly Flats”
Narrow Gauge equipment was of prime interest to
the train collectors. The
most recent addition to the narrow gauge exhibit is the restored old
turntable, which was completed after a lot of hard work and with financial
support from the Kimball family. Additionally, the Rail Museum is the home of Evan
Middleton’s toy train display situated in two retired Denver & Rio Grand
Baggage cars. Evan was Charter Member #2 in the early formation of TCA, and
the photos and letters displayed with the collection give a bit of insight
into early toy train collecting.
number of adult convention attendees, the first 200 to register, had the
privilege and opportunity to travel by bus to Betty
and Ward Kimball’s backyard
in San Gabriel. There they viewed the famous original Grizzly flats Railroad, Ward’s vast
toy train collection and antique toy collection which is housed in
separate structures on the property. Ward Kimball
built this railroad in his backyard because of his fascination and love of
trains. The "Grizzly Flats Railroad", so interested and fascinated Walt Disney
that he decided to build his own Carolwood Pacific live steam railroad in his
backyard. Also located on the grounds is the
Grizzly Flats station which Ward originally designed for use in a Walt
Disney film, "So Dear to My Heart".
excursion from Los Angeles’
Union Station via the Amtrak “Pacific Surfliner”
to San Juan Capistrano also took place for those who could
not attend the Ward Kimball tour. Union Station was built by the
Southern Pacific, Union
and Santa Fe railroads. Costing $11 million, it opened in 1939. It is the last
of the great passenger stations in America. Its design and architecture
reflect the opulent style of the period. Over 1˝ million people visited it within its first
three days of operation, and in its heydays (the 1930s and 1940s), it served
7,000 passengers daily.
After WWII, with the beginning of the jet age and deployment of freeways
across the country, passenger train use declined, and Union Station saw far less traffic. But in recent years, train travel has increased
in popularity again. Union Station now serves about 26,000 passengers a day
arriving and departing on Amtrak, MetroLink and the brand new subway trains.
The trip down the coast enabled viewing of
the Pacific Ocean from the large windows of the Surfliner cars. San Juan
Capistrano is the location of one of Southern California’s famous
missions, which is a short walk from the Amtrak Station.
San Juan Capistrano is the seventh mission founded November 1, 1776 by Fr.
Junipero Serra. The Mission is a registered Historic Landmark & designated a
National Historical Treasure. There are many areas of interest within
the Mission walls. You can hear the tolling of century old bells and walk down
its time worn paths. The serenity and peace amid the 10 acres of lush gardens
and cool fountains, cloistered by old adobe walls, offers visitors seclusion
from the sights and sounds of a busy world. The Mission is most notable for
the historic annual return of the swallows from South America. The swallows
migrate annually to Goya, Argentina in October, and return to their spring and
summer home in Capistrano each March. Locally, TCA members
found unique shops
and restaurants. After a return trip to Union Station on
Amtrak, tour attendees rode the Los Angeles Rapid Transit MetroLink commuter
train back to Ontario.
of the convention's 'train adventures' was to Griffith Park, site of the
Angeles Live Steamers, the Walt Disney Carolwood Pacific Railroad Barn, and
Travel Town. This tour
entertained the whole family, not
just the adults. The Los Angeles Live
Steamers operate 7˝” gauge model trains for the public to ride
on a main line that is about 1˝ miles long.
Some of the operating trains are actually wood or coal
burning steam powered models of actual prototypes. The realistic miniature
scale grounds of the railroad and scenery were built entirely by its members.
Located on the same grounds is the Walt Disney barn, which contains a fascinating
collection of Disney railroadiana, including documentation and pictures depicting
the early development of the
Railroad. This is the actual barn that was in Mr. Disney's backyard
at his residence in Holmby Hills, California
for many years. It was in this barn that
Walt, a member of LALs, had his workshop and ran the
switches for his home railroad. Right next door to the Live Steamers is
Travel Town, an outdoor museum that celebrates the
railroad heritage of Western America. Their roster includes 16 retired
locomotives, 11 restored freight cars and cabooses, 9 different passenger cars
and 4 interurbans, plus a miniature 16” gauge train that runs around the
Other outings that
provided entertainment for the families
of TCA members in attendance included a trip to Southern California’s premiere attraction: the
Disneyland Resort. There are now three
attractions at the Disneyland Resort:
the New California Adventure, which is a theme park,
the original Disneyland, which is also a theme park, and the Downtown Disney District, which is a
dining, entertainment and shopping experience. Convention
attendees had the opportunity to ride the Ward
Kimball inspired trains at Disneyland.
In keeping with the
convention's theme of 'Trains Go Hollywood", convention attendees also visited the
Universal Studios Hollywood
Theme Park and the Universal City Walk shopping experience. Universal is the
world’s largest movie studio and theme park. The theme
park's motto is "Universal Studios Hollywood puts
you so close you can hear the cameras rolling".
Convention attendees took a revealing inside look at
the sets and uncovered some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of today's biggest films.
There was also a bus trip to the world famous Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive. This tour
gave those who wanted to rub elbows with the “Stars” an
exclusive view of Rodeo Drive Shops, and an opportunity to see the famous
Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Celebrities John Voight and
Jerry Springer were actually sighted on the streets of Beverly Hills by some
TCA members taking this tour! And a
side stop was made at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where
the foot and hand prints of almost every famous Hollywood Actor and Actress
are encased in cement.
Western Division planned several events to provide convention
attendees with the opportunity to meet and socialize with their fellow TCAer’s.
One such event was a delightful Newport Harbor
Dinner Cruise. This was a first
class dinner on board the Hornblower’s cruise ship the “Entertainer”. We cruised the tranquil waters of Newport Beach Harbor viewing some very impressive yachts, sailboats,
and the palatial residences on the shore. Newport Beach boasts one of the
largest small-boat harbors in the world, rimmed by the boat slips of the
Balboa Peninsula on the south, the rocky shores of Corona Del Mar at the
harbor's mouth, and bustling Mariner's Mile on the north shore.
A real highlight of the cruise was being able to see one of Southern California’s magnificent sunsets
Thursday evening Welcome Party hosted by Western Division
was another great way to greet old friends and
make new friends in TCA. Over 575 convention attendees
purchased tickets for the Party. Included with the
reception and a full buffet
dinner, was a silent auction for all
to participate in and enjoy. Many unique items
from Ward Kimball's private collection were offered in the silent auction.
Most notable in the auction was a ceramic model of the TCA Museum by Stoney
Express, number 4 of 1000 manufactured, which was presented to Ward Kimball
for his efforts in helping get the museum in Strasburg, PA built. It
went for a whopping $850.
TCA members came from all over
the world to the convention in Southern California
was TRAINS! The trading hall opened up
for trading on Friday in a 41,000 Sq. Ft. ultra modern convention facility.
The Ontario Convention Hall 'A' housed
470 tables of all makes, models,
and gauges of trains and accessories,
which were fairly rapidly scooped up by happy and enthusiastic train
collectors. Hall 'B' housed a number of
very special Southern California Modular Layouts and
exhibits in what was billed as the 'Toy Train Expo'. This expo was open to the
public, and resulted in the signing up of over 30 new members for TCA. The
layouts included a new elaborate LEGO layout that
was a delight for
the kids and adults, a Standard Gauge Circus layout, a cog
railway built from erector sets, 2 'S' gauge modular layouts, 3 'O' gauge
layouts, a Thomas the Tank Layout in 'G' gauge, an 'HO' gauge layout, display
layouts by Lionel & MTH, and a special Disneyland Monorail layout with rare
Shuco trains. A special exhibit of trains
and photographs, and memorabilia from over
2 dozen Hollywood Films was the highlight of the 'Train Expo' in Hall 'B'.
Saturday morning the regular auction was held at the Convention
Center followed by the annual TCA Membership Meeting.
was the traditional night for visiting local member's unique
and collections. Five different busses transported over
250 attendees in separate directions to visit layouts and collections that
included 'S' gauge, 'O' gauge, Standard Gauge and 'G' gauge trains.
Saturday night, 500 attendees celebrated the TCA 49th National Convention
gathering with a gala fete at the Ontario DoubleTree Hotel.
The banquet event
the completion of an exciting week of sightseeing, camaraderie, exploration
and train collecting. The evening began with a cocktail reception,
followed by an excellent sit down dinner, and then a
program with some special presentations. The special
tribute of the evening was for the late Ward Kimball, who was a Western
Division member. In attendance were his wife Betty, son John, and
daughter-in-law Virginia. A high-tech slide presentation accompanied by
speeches from Bob Spellmire, Steve Waller and John Kimball
covering Ward's contributions to TCA, and with some
anecdotes about Ward took place. Afterward, an outstanding Banquet Auction
featuring many one-of-a-kind and unique items
donated by Betty Kimball and the family
was held. Over
$26,000 was raised for TCA, setting a new record for TCA Convention Banquet
All in all, the
feedback from members who were in attendance at the 49th TCA Convention in S.
California has been excellent. Everyone claims to have had a terrific time.
Western Division declares this convention to be a huge success!
Western Division would
like to gratefully acknowledge and thank the following contributors:
Allied Model Trains
Classic Toy Trains
Dr. & Mrs. Hurbert Gulak
Harold & Cheryl Shapiro
James (J) Keeley
John G. Parker
John L. Thousand
Joseph Filippi Winery, Rancho Cucamonga
The Kimball Family
Milepost 38 Model Trains Monrovia
West Antique Mall
Morgan’s Big Train Emporium
MTH Electric Trains, Inc.
Ontario Convention Center
The Original Whistle Stop
Pentrex Media Group
Richard Keppel, Jr.
Roger & Faith Clarkson
Ruby’s Dinner, San Juan Capistrano
Train Station of Mountain Lakes, NJ
TCA Grand Rapids
TCA Pacific N/W
TCA Ann Arbor
Wayne S. Sheriff
We apologize for any
The Western Division also wishes to thank every TCA member who came to this
year’s convention. We sincerely hope that you all have had as enjoyable a
convention experience as the 49th TCA Convention committee has had in putting
it all together.
A special thank you to the more than 50 volunteers who have helped make this
convention a success.
We all look forward to getting together again next year in Pennsylvania for
TCA’s 50th anniversary gala celebration.
2003 TCA 49th
Convention Committee Chairpersons:
John G. Parker
Wayne S. Sheriff
Treasurer - Harold Shapiro
Convention Cars, Children’s Activities, Banquet Auction - Robert M. Caplan
Registration - R. Dale Lange, Mark Boyd
Welcome Party - Russell S. Lange
Publicity/Printing - Wayne S. Sheriff, Harold Shapiro
Public Displays/Movies - Steve Waller
Security - Donald B. Stotts
Hall Table Layout/Set-Up - Dennis Taube
Raffle/Door Prizes - Robert M. Caplan, Peter Searls
Tours/Trips - Jon Lang
Trading Hall Auction – Vincent J. Garguilo
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