Train enthusiasts from around the world gather for Salt Lake City convention

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Twelve thousand train enthusiasts from around the world are gathering at the Little America to participate in the first National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) convention in Utah.

The convention is held annually in different places around the world, but the association chose the Beehive State because of the recent 150-year celebration of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Alan Anderson, the chairman of the NMRA 2019 Salt Lake City committee has spent the last four years planning the convention – along with others – and says the purpose for the convention is to bring like-minded people together.

“It’s a hobby where people can get together and finesse their talents,” Anderson says.

The week-long convention has workshops for attendees to learn how to build model railroads, train items available for auction, train displays and photographs and six different off-site tours.

Larry Brennan, of Jacksonville, Florida, made the trip to Utah by train. He says he’s been to a number of train conventions and travels by train to each of the events if possible.

“A train is a good way to see the country,” Brennan says. “If you’re in an airplane, you fly from A to Z and all you mostly see is the tops of clouds.”

Brennan says he’s been fascinated by trains since he was young and enjoys seeing what the conventions have to offer.

Local train display contestant Lowell Didas says he’s been working on two train carts being entered in the model show for quite some time now. He says his train didn’t come in a kit and he had to figure it out with minimal instructions.

“I thought this would be a fun addition to my layout,” Didas says. “I just took the drawings and converted it from the drawing to strip wood and cut the strip wood and put it together.”

While the convention is closed to the public, Anderson says a display will be open to the public Friday through Sunday at the Mountain American Expo Center.

In 2020, the NMRA convention will be held in St. Louis, Miss.; 2021, Santa Clara, Calif.; and in 2022, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

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