Monday, May 15, 2023


Coming less than a month after the annual convention of my home NMRA region, Pacific Coast Region (PCR), the convention of PNR (Pacific Northwest Region) was held last weekend in Tacoma, Washington. This is the adjoining region to the north of my own, not terribly far away, and I often attend the PNR meeting as well as the PCR. 

As I’ve stated before, I like to report on these meetings because of a long-held conviction, 40 years in the making, that regional NMRA conventions are fun and worthwhile attending. (My report on this year’s PCR meeting is here: .)

The PNR convention this year was kind of a mixed bag, with, unfortunately, a sub-par hotel, but there was good content in the convention activities, and an interesting neighborhood around the hotel. Just a block below us was the railroad depot facilities for both Amtrak and regional rail, both the Sound Transit light rail (street cars) and heavy-rail regional service (the Cascades and Sounder trains). Here’s a Sounder with its distinctive Bombardier bi-level coaches.

Incidentally, that’s our hotel at the top right of the photo!

As always, for me the clinic program at the convention was a major time consumer, and there were a number of good ones. Below I show Rich Mahaney, who gave a bunch of different talks, during his presentation on modern tank cars. I also gave a talk in the program.

I am always interested in the contest room, since you can depend on seeing some outstanding models. This convention was no exception. For me, the star this time was Donald Rose’s large-scale model of a narrow-gauge, outside-frame 0-6-0 of the Oahu Railway.

And the closer you looked, the more you saw. Below is a view into the cab, with all the piping and valves that were installed. This was a pretty impressive model.

Finally, I had the chance to scratch another of my many itches, discovering the Tacoma Book Center just a block from the hotel. The view below is just one of 12 aisles. I love places like this and could probably have spent all day there quite happily — and would equally probably spend a pile of money, and have to buy another suitcase to take all those wonderful purchases home!

As always, an enjoyable NMRA regional convention. Despite a few problems, congratulations to the organizers, who I know put in a considerable amount of time and effort to make one of these events happen. And to state it one more time, if you’ve never attended one of these conventions, it’s worth a try.

Tony Thompson

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