The 2012 Grand Rapids NMRA Convention
This year's NMRA Convention and National Train Show are being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is north of Chicago and just enough east to be in the Eastern time zone instead of the Central, as Chicago is.
Getting here was a comedy of airlines that I won't go into, aside from saying that I spent 20 hours Monday and Tuesday in airports and on airplanes and I was very happy to be reunited with my luggage when I returned to my hotel this evening after dinner.
MRH Advertising Director Les Hamos and his friend Jean-Francois came down from Quebec as well (Joe and our new Advertising Assistant Daniel Navas will join us on Friday) and we all went to visit what is probably the most famous model railroad in Grand Rapids, as well as one of the most famous in existence: Bruce Chubb's Sunset Valley Lines.
Featured in Model Railroader within the past couple years, the Sunset Valley Lines is a group project on a grand scale. The basement it is housed in is actually larger than the house it sits beneath, extending beneath a porch and the driveway. I believe I heard one of the operators mention that it has 8 levels - I know there are at least 5. And it does this without a helix in sight.
The Sunset Valley Lines models Oregon and Northern California from Portland in the north (with connections to the north and east to staging) and Dunsmir in the south, including branch lines such as the Coos Bay Branch of the Southern Pacific and the Sunset Valley Oregon System, based on a planned but never built prototype railroad to Crescent City, California.
It is big. It is run by CTC (at least two panels). It has it's own phone system. And since Bruce is the inventor of theC/MRI (Computer/Model Railroad Interface) system, it is completely wired for detection and signals.
And for the week of the National Convention, pretty much any conventioneer could drop by and pick up a throttle. I manned a helper run between Ashland and Siskiyou in order to get a passenger train up the hill (Bruce, in passing, "You know it's illegal to have helpers pushing on the back end of a passenger train, don't you?" Well... I do now.).
Here's some photographs of the layout and the people running it. (Note: uploading will be slow, I'm on a hotel connection and I'm still editing photos)
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