Bookmark and Share

Annual Conventions and Toy Train Shows

Chicago, Illinois - 48h Annual Convention July 22-28, 2018

     It’s actually Lombard, Ill., but we’ve been calling it Chicago for ease of understanding where the 2018 convention will be held. So from now on let’s be specific…Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Lombard, Ill. Call it what you will, this will be one of the LCCA’s most memorable conventions ever, that is until we have another memorable convention. In what is shaping up to be a convention full of memory-making tours, this is certainly one convention you will not want to miss. So let me highlight a few features that will be taking place at the hotel. 

     First of all we will have a trading hall that will occupy the “E” part of the Grand Ballroom, which is 4,644 sq.ft. But do not fear – if we have more tables than “E” can hold, we will open up “A” with another 1,163 sq. ft., for expansion and then “B” with another 1,090 sq. ft. So table space will not be an issue. We have been a little short on table space in the past, but this year we have the room. Just sign up for your tables and let Win Becker worry about where to put you.

     Friday, July 27, will be set-up day in the trading hall, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and only those vendors setting up their tables will be allowed admittance. The trading hall will be open Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for selling to members attending the convention. The trading hall will open again Saturday at 8 a.m. to members and then to the public from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. We are looking forward to a large crowd, “so come early and stay late.

     While we are on the hotel, I want to reiterate that this is a large property and you might get lost, so travel with a friend…just kidding. Do be aware of how you got from point “A” to point “B” when you leave your room because it is a large hotel and one could get misdirected (I won’t say lost). I’m speaking from experience and I’ll say I got “confused” about getting around the ground floor meeting rooms. But if and when you do get confused as I did, the staff is most helpful. All you need to do is ask someone. 

     It has been known to get hot in the Chicago area in July, so take advantage of the two bottles of water that will be replenished in your room on a daily basis. So with the water in your room and the two bottles of water per person on the tours, you should stay hydrated.

     Chicago is a very busy train location, and you can certainly use Amtrak to get there. However, we have not made any transportation arrangements to get you from the depot to the hotel. If you decide to fly into either O’Hare or Midway, we have made arrangements to get you to the Westin Hotel. The complimentary 10-12 passenger vans will transport guests from the airports to the hotel on a continuous loop on the peak arrival dates of July 22 and 23 from the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Two complimentary 10-12 passenger vans will transport guests back to the airports on the main departure date of July 29, 2018, from the hours of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. These vans will be assigned one each to O’Hare and to Midway. Try to make your reservations on those arrival days at those times or you’ll have to find your own way to the hotel. 

     We have a wonderful hotel and expect everyone to have a great time as we begin to round the corner, heading for our 50th LCCA Annual Convention in 2020. You’ll be seeing and hearing more about that later as we get closer. But for now, make your plans to come to Lombard, Il., this July 22-28 and experience the 48th Annual LCCA Convention. See you there.

     This year's gift for those members registering for the 2018 LCCA Annual Convention and staying for 3 nights at the Host Hotel is a Lionel Bump and Go trolley, of course this one proudly says Chicago Lines in Red and Cream.  In high demand when they were offered in Indy and in Boston, this gift promises to be every bit as collectible.  But its greatest value is as a keepsake for your attendance at the convention.  NOTE:  Only 400 are available and when they are gone, they are gone.  Sign up early and don't miss out!

     These trolleys will be available at the Host Hotel during convention week.  To qualify, you must be one of the first 400 members to register and stay at least 3 nights in the Host Hotel (or live within 50 miles of the host Hotel)

World Famous Illinois Railkroad Museum

Illinois Railroad Museum - Monday we will visit the largest Railroad Museum in the United States, including seeing things no one else ever gets to see at the IRM. Can you say Zephyr? Yes, the Zephyr articulated cars will be available for us to ride on the nine-mile main line of the museum. The train will be pulled by the famous Nebraska Zephyr E-5 engine, if all goes according to plan and brake repairs are completed. The continuous loop trolley will constantly be running for your all-day enjoyment. Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase at the Railroad Diner and Grill. 

     The museum has four huge train barns that all visitors may visit every day during museum hours. However, exclusively for the LCCA the back five train barns (which are never open to the public) will be available for our members’ enjoyment. The equipment we will see includes 875 pieces of rolling stock. Wow! This includes 25 steam engines, 45 diesels, 70 passenger cars, 87 freight cars & cabooses, 16 trolleys, 23 electric streetcars, 37 interurban cars, 27 rapid transit, and 11 electric locomotives. Also, there are many artifacts such as buildings, signals, telegraph, tools, signage, caps and badges, uniforms, tickets, and many documents. Come see where numerous films, documentaries, and commercials have been produced. Enjoy a great five-plus hour visit at this exceptional museum. If you want a sneak peek at its collection, the IRM website is

Moonlight Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan Tour

Moonlight Dinner Cruise and Lake Michigan - Our bus will leave the hotel for a ride to downtown Chicago’s Navy Pier where we will board the beautiful boat for a dinner cruise both north and south of downtown on Lake Michigan. 

     A full course meal will be presented in the ship’s dining room while we continue to view the stunning downtown Chicago skyline. All food, tips, taxes, and drinks (non-alcohol) are included. Don’t miss this unique view of the Windy City! The dinner cruise’s website is

The Fabulous Sanfilippo Estate and The Wandering Tree Resort Tour

Sanfilippo Estate and The Wandering Tree Resort Tour - We will visit The Wandering Tree Resort, home of the “Train Lady” of Chicago. Elaine Silets, along with her son H.L., have created a masterpiece that is open to private groups only, never open to the public. LCCA is so fortunate to be invited to this special venue. The Silets purchased this farm land estate 46 years ago and have developed a beautiful park that got its start with the American Chestnut tree that sprung up on its own in 1941. That one tree has blossomed into a beautiful botanical garden. Elaine’s late husband Harvey planted most of the trees making up this beautiful landscape. To honor her husband, who was a devoted train lover, she has created an LGB Garden Railroad that is beyond imagination. Take your time and not only watch the trains but be amazed at the way she and her gardeners incorporate the trains into the foliage. If that is not enough, a full size depot was constructed on-site and houses a beautiful huge Lionel layout. Many Chicago landmarks are recreated here, including Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs) and the famous “Bean” near the downtown lakefront. Also, don’t miss the statue of Elaine and Harvey spewing “real” water at each other over the pond. This Wandering Tree Estate is a sight that you do not want to miss. Website: 

     Our other museum on the Tuesday tour will be the magnificent Sanfilippo Estate. This is another do-not-miss setting above all imagination. The Sanfilippo Estate is never open to the public and is only viewed by non-profit organizations with prior arrangements. The Sanfilippo “Place de la Musique” is known worldwide for its magnificent collections of beautifully restored antique music machines, phonographs, arcade and gambling machines, chandeliers, art glass, the world’s largest theatre pipe organ (over 8,000 pipes), a spectacular European Salon carousel, street and tower clocks, steam engines and many other functional mechanical antiques, all in working order and displayed within a breathtaking French Second Empire setting. I have seen a lot of places, but this one ranks at or near the top of anything I have ever witnessed. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The website is 

     During the tour we will visit the “Chessie” restaurant in Barrington where we will eat in a dining car atmosphere.

Chicagoland Lionel Railroaders Club and Illinois Live Steamers

Chicagoland Lionel Railroaders Club and Illinois Live Steamers - At the Illinois Live Steamers (ILS), we will ride on the miniature trains around their 7.3 acre park. They will be entertaining the LCCA only on Wednesday, so our tour will be exclusive. We will pass through a tunnel and over a bridge as we view different structures located around this venue. Founded in 1967 and now located in a former apple orchard, the ILS club has 120 members and 44 affiliate/junior members. It includes 6,000 feet of track for the 4.75 gauge (a mile with over 50 switches), 6,000 feet of track for the 7.5 gauge (a mile with over 40 switches), and 600 feet of elevated 3.5 inch gauge track. Members have their own trains and space to store them at the facility. There are approximately 120 engines on site. The engines are powered by steam, (coal, propane, or oil); by gas/hydraulic power, by electricity (batteries), and other ingenious methods. ILS has a HUGE number of engines and over 700 rolling stock and can run as many as 30 trains at one time on the three gauges. Some trains can carry up to 20 riders. We are in for a real treat. No lunch will be served as the morning group will return to the hotel in time for lunch. The afternoon group should have lunch before departure. Both of our stops on Wednesday will have food, drinks, snacks, and souvenirs for sale. There will be a small gift for anyone participating in this tour. For more information, you may visit the club’s website at (CASE sensitive).

     Our second stop Wednesday is the famous Chicagoland Lionel Railroad Club (CLCR), a private club dealing in O gauge Lionel trains. It started with four corner modules, has grown steadily ever since, and is just now completing a massive overhaul. The club purchased a 60 x 60 foot building to house its permanent layout. Along with the layout, a sitting area, service station, gift store, cafe, and mezzanine (no elevator) have also been incorporated into the facility. With a 120 foot panoramic picture of the greater Chicago area serving as the background, the layout structures are situated to integrate with the background. Don’t miss an overview of the entire layout from the mezzanine level. The CLCR has received the prestigious Ambassadors Club of the Year award for both 2016 & 2017 from Lionel. Its website is

Museum of Science and industry and Chicago Union Station

Museum of Science and industry and Chicago Union Station - One of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) has both an illustrious history and a focus on the future. Opening in 1933, more than 180 million guests have marveled at this masterpiece. The MSI brings science to life for children and adults of all ages. In 1941, the museum displayed the largest model railroad in the world with two-rail O gauge track. After over 60 years, the railroad shut down in May 2002, only to come alive again 50 percent larger than before (and in HO, which makes it even bigger). This railroad models the travels from Chicago to Seattle in the great Pacific Northwest, running more than 30 trains. Of course, there are more than model trains in this gigantic building. How about the real life Zephyr engine and cars? And then there is a WWII German U-boat submarine, a trip into a coal mine, a 40 foot tornado, among the many other things for your viewing pleasure. After leaving the MSI, we will visit the world famous Chicago Union Station before we board the bus for our trip back to the hotel (see Union Station write-up below). The MSI website is

Driving Tour of Chicago, Union Station, and Willis Tower

Driving Tour of Chicago, Union Station, and Willis Tower - We will stop at the Union Station, completed in 1925 with a Beaux Arts-style waiting room with 18 Corinthian columns, Tennessee marble floors, terra-cotta walls, and a five-story atrium. In what has been termed “America’s Last Grand Railroad Station”, we can explore the beautiful above-the-street Grand Hall level and also the action of the rails down below. We will then be treated to a narrated driving tour of downtown Chicago and all its historic places, followed by a trip up the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). A breathtaking view of the surrounding area is available on the 103rd floor where the all-glass balcony extends out above the streets below (1,353 feet down). Websites for the Union Station and the Willis Tower are and

Architectural River Boat Tour

Architectural River Boat Tour - This adventure is listed on many, many websites and in most magazines as the Number One Tour when visiting Chicago. This will be our half-day tour Friday, getting us back to the hotel in time for the LCCA business meeting, the Lionel seminar, and the trading floor. The bus will deliver us to the boat dock on the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. The 1.5 hour narrated tour up both forks of the river & back highlight the architectural masterpieces in downtown Chicago. Snacks and drinks are included. Upon returning to the dock, we will have time to do some shopping at the world famous Navy Pier and enjoy a leisurely lunch on your own, if you so desire. The website for the Architectural River Boat Tour is

Art Institute of Chicago and Lake Shore Highlight Tour

Art Institute of Chicago and Lake Shore Highlight Tour - The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 and represents the finest diverse artistic traditions available. There are over 300,000 different works of art ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art. The art and architecture of the building is just as impressive as the works of art inside. Don’t miss the two large bronze lions flanking the front door entrance. After visiting the museum and possibly having a light lunch on your own, we will be given a guided bus tour of downtown Chicago which will include some, if not all of these highlights; Soldier Field, Millennium Park, The Bean, Buckingham Fountain, lakefront beaches and parks, majestic churches, historic factories, and many other points of interest. We will then return to our hotel and get ready for the convention’s closing banquet. Art Institute of Chicago website –

Significant Convention events also held were:

  • Annual business meeting
  • Lionel seminar
  • 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 22-28, 2018, will be a great memorable time. However, we can look forward now to the model railroad train shows, camaraderie and more at the Reno convention in 2019

These events held in Chicago 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 Reno Convention starting in mid-February 2019 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.