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Annual Conventions and Toy Train Shows

Reno, Nevada - 49h Annual Convention July 14-20, 2019


      Reno was the site of the LCCA's 49th annual convention and everyone was invited to spend the week at the beautiful Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. It was the 49th annual convention, and a party it was. The Atlantis is one of Reno’s premier hotels, and the service was First Class.

All guest rooms had complimentary basic Internet, as well as two complimentary bottled waters daily, based on consumption. The weather in Reno was warm, but since it’s in the high desert the temperatures did not get as hot as Las Vegas. As the sun went down, so did the temperature, so a light wrap was needed if you went out in the evening. For those of us looking for a healthy, muscle-building workout to help in wrestling our newly purchased Lionel items, we all had access to the resort’s fitness center. So we could eat the excellent food, top it off with some freshly made gelato and not gain an ounce. How great is that? 


We had the President’s Welcome Reception & Social on Sunday evening. The First Timers Reception on Tuesday evening for those of us who made this our very first convention. You may have been a member of the club for 30 years, but if this was your first convention, then this event was for you. The Get Acquainted Party was our Thursday night dinner and entertainment. This popular event has become a favorite time for friends to get together and have fun. There was plenty of food and great entertainment was provided, always a great time. Friday night was our first look-see and buy in the trading hall. We had approximately 125 6 ft. x 30 in. tables for us to display our trains and accessories. Like last year, we had reduced the cost of the tables since the length was 6 feet instead of 8 feet; so many members bought two, brought their goodies and made someone happy when they grabbed something they have been looking for. 

To wrap up the week, the annual convention banquet was held on Saturday night. The sit-down and plated meal of beef, chicken or seafood culminated the week’s activities with each table’s decoration being the ever-popular blue and orange boxes. There was something for everyone, and someone from each table went home with the night’s banquet gift. It could have even been you. But you had to attend to win. Make plans now to come to the next convention in Omaha in July 2020 for the 50th annual LCCA convention. You'll be seeing and hearing more about that later as we get closer. See you there.

     This year's gift for those members registering for the 2019 LCCA Annual Convention and staying for 3 nights at the Host Hotel was a Lionel Bump and Go trolley, of course this one proudly said Virginia City in Blue and Gray.  In high demand when they were offered in Indy, Boston and in Chicago, this gift promised to be every bit as collectible and was.  But its greatest value was as a keepsake for attending the convention.  NOTE:  Only 400 were available. To qualify, you had to 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). 


There truly was great excitement at all of this year's tours on Trains, Railroads, and Reno!


Nevada State Railroad Museum

Carson City, NV, State Railroad Museum, Virginia & Truckee Train Ride, and Virginia City - As we drove in our motor coaches from Reno along US 395 to Carson City, we learned about the rich history of Northern Nevada and the Washoe Valley. On the way, we stoped at the Bowers’ Mansion for photos. This house was built in a combined Georgian Revival and Italianate style in 1863 by Sandy Bowers, one of the new millionaires of the Comstock mining boom. Our Convention Activities guide narrated and pointed out interesting sights along the way. After travelling part of the Blue Line Trail (Kit Carson Trail), we visited the Nevada State Railroad Museum, which is a cultural resource dedicated to educating visitors and the community about Nevada railroad history. This mission is accomplished through the collection, preservation and interpretation of significant locomotives, rolling stock, artifacts, and memorabilia directly related to railroads and railroading in Nevada. Our members enjoyed a real treat in getting to ride in the 1910 McKeen motorcar at the museum, the only working unit of this locomotive/car anywhere in the world. We were provided a lunch on-site (at no additional cost) during this museum visit. 

After lunch we took a very short bus ride to the newly opened East Gate Depot on the east side of the city. We boarded the Virginia Truckee steam train for an uphill grade excursion with plenty of sights, sounds, and coal dust smell. While the usual short ride is from Gold Hill, our trip was a longer city-to-city excursion. A photo op was available on this ride. Once we reached Virginia City, there was time to explore both the V&T yards as well as the ole “Wild West town” of Virginia City. Next we visited the Piper Opera house for a vaudeville melodrama while enjoying a “Miner’s lunch” for dinner. The vaudeville show followed the meal, and it surely entertained everyone. We were able to stop at a beautiful Reno/Sparks scenic overlook on our way back to the hotel. WOW, what a way it was to start the convention.

Western Pacific Railroad Museum

Western Pacific Railroad Museum and More - We were transported via motor coach to Portola, Calif., to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, where visitors are encouraged to climb aboard over 100 pieces of historic rolling stock. It is definitely a hands-on museum. Then we traveled 10 minutes to the private home of Chris Skow in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounded by towering pines. He has a lifetime collection of items on exhibit, acquired during years working on the railroad before retiring. He also has a beautiful “G” gauge garden layout, along with a green house with unique landscapes, plants, and decorations. 

We then split into smaller groups and visited the world famous Keddie Wye, the only place in the world where the train exits the tunnel immediately onto a split trestle with one fork going north and the other heading south. We got an unprecedented birdseye view of this work of art from private property, a look few other people ever get to experience. Continuing in our small groups, we visited area sites and enjoyed a catered lunch on the local picnic grounds. 

Minden Live Steamers

Live Steamers and More - We visited the Minden “live steamers” to view and ride on these mini scale replicas of real steam trains. This tour took us to the famous town of South Lake Tahoe, one of America’s most unique resort areas. At an elevation of 6,200 feet, it is one of the world’s largest, highest, and most beautiful Alpine lakes. We visited the Tallac Historical Site featuring homes and lifestyles of the 1920s rich and famous. Heralded as the “Grandest Resort in the World,” there are 19 historic structures including three rustic mansions dating from 1873 and a walk to the Boat House of Tallac. Taylor Creek Visitor Center is the hub of four fascinating self-guided interpretive trails and the Stream Profile Chamber. This unique underground viewing chamber located along the Rainbow Trail provided a view of the mountain stream environment. Visitors could study a diverted section of Taylor Creek through a panel of aquarium-like windows, offering a fish-eye view of Taylor Creek’s underwater wildlife. One could spot brightly colored fish, diving ducks, crayfish or other hidden surprises in the chamber’s mural that follows Taylor Creek through the four seasons. We’ll also visited the Valhalla Mansion built in 1923, with its famous Grand Hall with beautiful wood floors, an open wood beam ceiling, a balcony of lodge pole construction and a 20-foot high stone fireplace. 

Next stop was Genoa, Nev. Douglas County and Carson Valley history where a very young but an important chapter in the romantic “Old West” took place. When John Reese and his party built a trading post in 1851, the area began to attract settlers and became a permanent settlement. Since most of the men in Reese’s party were Mormon, the location became know as Mormon Station. Our tour included the former Overland Emigrant Trail (now Genoa’s Main Street), the oldest bar in Nevada, Franktown, Jack’s Valley and Hope Valley. Throughout this tour, we enjoyed a fascinating drive narrated with the history of the pioneer heritage trail with the backdrop of the picturesque grand Sierra Nevada mountains.

Lake Tahoe Dinner Boat Cruise

Lake Tahoe Dinner Boat Cruise - This memorable evening began with our paddle wheeler boat cruising beneath a magnificent Lake Tahoe sunset. Dinner followed by cocktails and dancing;  enjoying cocktails and dancing first as the sun sets and then dining on the return trip. Either way we all reveled in the Lake Tahoe night, dancing to a live band and taking a stroll on the starlit deck. Enjoying a delightful evening while enjoying panoramic views of the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe, dazzling vistas of the Sierras, the dramatic splendor of Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, and the unique Vikingsholm Castle. We enjoyed a delicious three- course plated dinner including salad, entrée and dessert, with a full service bar available on board for additional beverage purchases.

Truckee, Squaw Valley, Donner Summit, & Lake Tahoe

Truckee, Squaw Valley, Donner Summit, & Lake Tahoe - The town of Truckee is featured in America’s history of westward expansion. Many early pioneers followed the Emigrant Trail through Truckee. Later, as the California gold rush hit a fever pitch, fortune seekers poured into the area. By 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad had reached Truckee, which had grown into a bustling, bawdy town known for its major ice harvest and lumber industries. Today Truckee retains much of its Old West flavor and historic charm. Nostalgic Commercial Row, lined with quaint shops, offers the visitor a glimpse into its history. 

The Donner Memorial was a great way to learn more of the infamous Donner Party. On one of the early wagon trains attempting to reach California, the Donner Party ran into severe weather conditions and spent a desperate winter near the shores of Donner Lake. We viewed the museum and enjoyed sites and paraphernalia detailing this historic episode. We could hike a trail along the old roadbed at the summit and travel through tunnels, across trestles and observe the famous Chinese Wall, where rock excavated from the tunnel filled the ravine. This granite fits perfectly with no mortar to hold it in place. We shoped the stores and had lunch on our own in Truckee before we head over to Squaw Valley for some wonderful photos of its stunning scenery. Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. We saw the small building made famous by the skier wiping out in the “Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat” opening for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. We’ll had a quick stop at Tahoe City and the Fanny Bridge/Gatekeepers and then it was on to King’s Beach at Lake Tahoe before finally returning to our hotel.

Harrah Military Museum and National Automobile Museum

Harah Military Museum & National Automobile Museum - The Harrah Military Museum, located in Sparks, Nev., gives a unique look at a comprehensive collection of 40+ military vehicles. Along with the vehicles are an assortment of cannons, weaponry, guns and ammunitions, historical helmets and fine trench art. The Harrah Military Museum is not usually open to the public, abut we received a private tour. A narrated tour of interesting and cultural sites in the Sparks area gave us the history of the railroad and views of the beautiful Truckee River. 

The National Automobile Museum provides something few other facilities can – a stunning display of over 200 antique, vintage, classic and special interest automobiles, all in an exciting, contemporary location. These are not just lined up row after row, but in diorama settings, making for some very interesting viewing. This collection was previously owned by Mr. Harrah, and the Military Museum is the collection of Mr. Harrah’s son. This is a very interesting combination and we got to see them both on this tour.

Nevada State Museum

Nevada State Museum & More - We went to two different museums and also learned a bit about the City of Reno. We traveled to Carson City and visited the Nevada State Museum, built originally as a U.S. Mint which operated from 1870 to 1895. This museum includes a simulated mine tour so realistic you will think you are really underground. Following the Nevada State Museum tour, we headed back to Reno and stoped in Midtown where we had time to dine and explore. 

Next our knowledgeable guide introduced us to the vibrant streets of one of Reno’s most energetic neighborhoods, a hub for art and culture with an eclectic mix of new and old buildings and the fascinating stories they tell. 

Our next museum stop was at the University of Nevada Reno. The W.M. Keck Museum is Nevada’s second oldest museum and is located in the Mackay School of Mines Building. John W. Mackay, after a moderate success as a miner, formed a partnership with James Fair, James Flood, and William O’Brien known as the Bonanza Firm. They developed the famous Comstock Lode and in 1873 struck the richest veins in history, producing more than $180 million in ore in just four years. An impressive collection of ore and mineral specimens are on display along with the fossilized foot and wrist of a 2.6 million year old mastodon discovered in northern Nevada. The museum collection also included a 1,250-piece collection of Tiffany silver, made up of over a half of ton of silver. Magnificent to say the least! On our travels back to the hotel, we visited Nevada’s only certified Rose Garden located in Idlewild Park with over 1,750 roses of 200 different varieties.

Significant Convention events also held were:

  • Annual business meeting
  • Lionel seminar
  • Informational member seminars
  • 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 14-20, 2019, was a great memorable time. However, we can look forward now to the model railroad train shows, camaraderie and more at the Omaha convention in 2020.


These events held in Reno 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 each convention starting in mid-February of each year 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.