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Annual Conventions and Toy Train Shows

Tacoma, Washington - 47th Annual Convention July 24-29, 2017

Tacoma, Washington, was a fantastic location for the LCCA’s 47th Annual Convention. This beautiful city by the Pacific Ocean beckoned us all to come and refresh in the wonderful 70 degree, sunshiny weather it has to offer. We had been assured the rain that plagues the Northwest would not bother us and it did not.

There were many great tours for us to enjoy. They ranged from autos to planes to, of course, train rides through the old logging areas of the Pacific Northwest. If you enjoy trains, history, the arts and beautiful scenery, you should have been there. There was even tasting tours for the adults in the group that featured local craft breweries and distilleries and their products. You can see more about highlights from all of the tours below. 

For the younger set we scheduled a boat tour of the Tacoma harbor. It turned out the adults far outnumbered the younger ones. The boat dock was just a few blocks’ walk from the hotel, or some took the free trolley one stop to the Union Depot and walk across the Glass Bridge to the landing. This enabled us to get out and in the fresh air of Tacoma and one more chance to glimpse beautiful Mount Rainier. 

We also offered a City Museum Pass which gave attendees access to six of the museums within a short distance of the hotel. The must-see wads the Washington State Museum, with its outstanding HO gauge layout of Tacoma. There were many other exhibits to see as well, but the HO layout was fantastic. Another museum that surprisingly impressed everyone was the Museum of Glass, where everything is made of glass, even a red blown glass electric guitar. During the tour artisans were actually creating elaborate glass objects. Impressive!. 

To make our trip from the SeaTac Airport to the Hotel Murano easy and worry-free, arrangements were made with a local valet service that worked very well for everyone. They also supplied buses for all of our tours.

In addition to the events and program, each attendee received several special items including the beautiful Northern Pacific motorized pickup registration gift and tables pilled high with Banquet Gifts. There were numerous prizes for attending specific events and of course we can't forget items in the LCCA store available for purchase including the convention on-site car. 

The convention committee arranged for social activities and events that enabled attendees to meet and visit with friends and fellow members. For example, there was a hospitality suite where attendees were able to gather and visit or work on puzzles or spend some free time getting acquainted with others. The week all started on Sunday evening with the President’s Welcoming Party for “cookies and milk” which has become a full meal - barbecue was this years feature. On Wednesday, the First Timers’ Reception welcomed new attendees to the annual gathering of Lionel train enthusiasts and friends. On Thursday, it was the famous Get Acquainted Party with a entertainment afterwards. Friday evening started the Trading Hall. On Saturday night, the always popular Banquet with special prizes on every table were to be had. Earlier in the week were also a couple great workshops thrown in for good measure just in case you got bored! 

The tours promised to be really fun, interesting, and educational, and we were not disappointed. With so many possibilities and so much to do, we were kept very busy and entertained. The sights were truly beautiful and very picturesque. Mt. Rainer in the evening was always putting on a show from our hotel. A lot of the tours were outdoors, and the northwest in July was perfect with blue skies, white puffy clouds and pleasant temperatures. Did I mention the mountains. They were awesome!

Here are highlights of the tours offered in Tacoma:

Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad & Logging Museum, and Mount Rainier National Park

The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad & Logging Museum, and Mount Rainier National Park - Do you love majestic snow-capped mountains as a backdrop to the jet black smoke of a puffing steam engine? If so, this was the trip for you! We climbed aboard the longest continuously operating steam tourist railroad in the Pacific Northwest! Attendees rode a vintage train through the forest and foothills of Mount Rainier. We boarded our buses early for a scenic ride to the little town of Elbe where we viewed the Tiny Church, the Hobo Caboose Lodge, and the Railroad Dining Company in old restored dining cars, along with other sites. 

We then boarded the train at the Elbe Depot for the gorgeous ride to Mineral, Washington, passing through thick forest, beside a mountain stream and across the glacial fed Upper Nisqually River. In Mineral, we departed the train, broke up into smaller groups and visited the train yard, train barn, and the logging museum. They had the world’s largest collection of steam logging locomotives on display for us. Next we viewed a recreated logging camp. The exhibits give you a peek into the daily lives, tools, and technologies at work in these movable villages. They were a significant part of the Pacific Northwest history. We also saw a display of nine mini-train live steam engines, made to scale, exactly like the real models on site. 

A great barbecue lunch with all the fixings was served in their picnic park, with a stunning view of the beautiful snowcapped Mount Rainier as our entertainment. After a train ride back to Elbe, our bus delivered us to Mount Rainier National Park (established in 1899) located in the Cascade Range. We made a stop in the park after entering at the Nisqually Entrance, which is in the park’s southwest corner. The first vista was the Longmire Museum and Visitors Center. Then we proceeded up to the Paradise Park & Jackson Memorial Visitors Center where we had another close view of the 14,409 foot peak, volcanoes, glaciers (25 in the park), waterfalls and beautiful flowering meadows. Restrooms, snack areas, and souvenir shops were available for our pleasure before we reloaded the bus to journey back to the hotel. Then we just set back, relaxed, and watched the beautiful countryside on the way back to our host Hotel Murano in Tacoma.

Seattle City Tour

Seattle City Tour - Our first stop was at the world famous Space Needle and the Chihuly Glass Museum and Gardens located at the base of the Space Needle. Mid morning we boarded the bus for the famous Pike Place Market where we watched the fish being tossed around! Then a couple hours free time to visit the market, shops and to have lunch on our own. We then re-boarded the buses and took a driving tour through downtown Seattle, passing by the Amtrak station, both professional sports stadiums, and along the waterfront and piers before heading back to Tacoma..

Everett Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Factory Tour

Everett Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Factory Tour - We began our tour North of Seattle in the town of Everett, Washington, approximately a two hour drive but worth every minute! This is the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America. Upon arrival, we divided into two groups with each spending about 1½ hours in the factory and the same in the 28,000 square feet of exhibits in the Future of Aviation Center Gallery. In the factory we observed the 747s, 777s, or 787 Dreamliners being assembled right before our eyes. Wow! Remember, this is the largest building in the world. The Boeing Museum concluded our activity in the afternoon before we started our journey back to Tacoma.

Transportation Day at the Lemay Automobile Museum and the Seattle Boeing Museum of Flight

Transportation Day at the Lemay Automobile Museum and the Seattle Boeing Museum of Flight - We visited what is referred to as “America’s Car Museum”, an outstanding collection of automobiles on display in a gorgeous building with four floors of cars and ramps between the floors completely full of vehicles. This facility covers 165,000 square feet, (or nine acres), displaying over 300 various means of highway transportation. 

Forget everything you know about car museums… ACM is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced! If you’re curious, you can read more about it here

The second stop of the tour was the “The Museum of Flight”, a facility over 50 years old with two floors of exhibits consisting of six different galleries. Some of the many attractions included the Apollo Command Module in which every Apollo astronaut trained, the Holtgrewe Model Airplane Collection, the first jet airplane to have served as Air Force One, the Lockheed Electra 10-E that flew around the world, a moon rock, the first fighter plane, and the world’s fastest plane.  Included were examples of Boeing company made aircraft (civilian and military) from its earliest days until today.You can find more details here.

Rails and Water Falls

Rails and Water Falls - We journeyed to Snoqualmie, Washington, where we visited the Northwest Railway Museum, the yards and train repair shop, and a ride on the Northwest Railroad. Unlike our other two train rides this week, this one was pulled by a diesel engine. 

This rail trip took us up to Snoqualmie Falls, which is higher than Niagara Falls by over 100 feet (but less volume.) We got a better look at the Falls when our bus took us to the park where we could walk the path atop the cliffs, overlooking the falls from many different angles. We had a little time in the quaint little town to get a bite to eat in one of its Mom and Pop spots. One favorite was the one that makes its own root beer. It was mmm, mmm good! 

Chehalis - Central RR

Chehalis - Central RR - This tour traveled to Centralia where we spent 30 minutes checking out the train shed, the yards, the turntable and the depot with its souvenir shop. Some of the tour visitors started immediately boarding the train for the round trip excursion on this old logging line. 

Our excursion wound through the scenic hills, farmlands, and over several wooden trestles that cross the Chehalis River. An opportunity was available to look for both Mount Rainier and Mount St . Helens on this delightful ride on a rare standard gauge line. We had a photo run-by going out with Steam Engine #15. Also two lucky members got to ride in the steam cab on the way out and two different members on the way back. What fun that was! Number 15 is a 2-8-2 steam locomotive built by Baldwin in 1916 & ran over former Milwaukee Road track (Weyerhaeuser Timber Company). To learn more about this railroad, visit their web page,

KIDS CLUB Harbor Tour

KIDS CLUB Harbor Tour - This tour offered a walking visit to the nearby harbor area from the hotel. We toured the harbor getting different views of Tacoma and Mount Rainier from all angles. A short boat/water transportation ride was offered to each attendee.

Tacoma City Walking Tour

Tacoma City Walking Tour - This tour offered a way to see the museum sights at our own pace. All were nearby and many found the glass museum of particular interest. There were six museums within easy walking distance from our Murano Hotel and/or by the Light Rail Trolley Line. They were:

  • Glass Museum and the Glass Bridge entrance
  • Washington State History Museum, displaying Washington’s largest and most beautiful HO layout
  • Tacoma Children’s Museum
  • Foss Waterway Seaport
  • LeMay Automobile Museum
  • Tacoma Art Museum
Also in the same area was the magnificent architecture of the UNION RAILROAD STATION (now a courthouse) with all the glass display inside. The large open terminal was breathtaking!

Alcohol, Winery & Distilleries

Alcohol, Winery & Distilleries - We visited the Heritage Distilling Company Flagship for an hour where we took a tour of its factory and learned how the different spirits are made and the difference in the makeup of each one. A tasting was conducted there with three or four 2 ounce shots offered. We also stopped at the Wet Coast Brewing Company where we had taste flights of three or four 5 ounce samplings each of its craft brews. After 45 minutes at Wet Coast Brewing, we went on to visit the 7 Seas Brewing Company for another 45 minutes and enjoy three or four 6 oz. tasting samples. Attendees enjoyed them all!

Naval Underwater Museum

Naval Underwater Museum - This is the only U. S. Naval Undersea Museum in the United States, located in Keyport, Wash. The museum is divided into four segments: Ocean Environment, Undersea Weapons Technology, Submarine Technology, and Diving & Salvage. There were five real under water craft on display outside the museum and an operating periscope inside to locate them. Museum volunteers took us on tour, explained the exhibits, and related stories of their navy experiences. For more information, click here.

Significant Convention events also held were:

  • Annual business meeting
  • Lionel seminar
  • Two informational seminars and hobby clinics
  • Junior member activities for young club members
  • Famous "Get Acquainted Party"
  • President's Welcoming Reception
  • Reception for first-time attendees
  • Saturday evening reception and banquet

July 24-29, 2017, was a great memorable time. However, we can look forward now to the model railroad train shows, camaraderie and more at the Chicago Convention in 2018.

These events held in Tacoma are just a taste of the type of things in store for you, your family, and friends when you come to an LCCA convention and help us celebrate the annual anniversary of the "Best toy train club on the planet" by making each convention one of the best in Lionel Collectors Club Convention history. Members may register online for the Chicago Convention starting in mid-February 2018 or read the details of the events published in The Lion Roars, the club’s model train magazine. Non-members may join the club now and be prepared for a fabulous week of fun, great food, toy train shows and friendship with train operators and collectors who favor the Lionel brand and celebrate the world’s greatest hobby.