I got to the meet right at 9:00. A line had formed outside the entrance to the building at the meet location, St. Pius X Parish Center. The fans found it pretty chilly waiting outdoors in the winter air for a chance to get at the registration desk.
The gym was packed with vendors and rail buffs. I heard that the club had sold 73 tables. A few layouts were on display as well. The Des Moines NTrak group had a small modular setup including a model of a drive-in theater. The "Termite Lumber Co." was on hand and still for sale. Next door there was a small Lionel setup with some rolling stock that the youngsters were happily playing with. The Rock Island Technical Society was on hand with their attractive display board.
Two rooms near the gym were in use for the model contest and the silent auction. A number of models were entered in the contest, under fairly broad categories like "Locomotives" and "On Line Structures". I got pictures of some of the locos, a scratchbuilt steamer - MILW 943, a Fort Dodge electric loco and CB&Q 153. Among the structures was a yard tower, the Fort Dodge depot, and another depot with a highly detailed interior.
In the afternoon I attended one of the clinics, a presentation by George Niles on Michigan Cal Logging Company. George had several models of logging locos on display, showing dramatically the difference in scales available to the modeler.
After the train meet two local clubs hosted open houses. The first one Susan and I attended was the Central Iowa Railroad Club's at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The CIRC is a large, mature layout featuring elaborate detailing on virtually every inch of the club's setup. Unfortunately, there was little operation when we were there, just a doodlebug running the mainline.
We then went into the city and visited the Raccoon Valley Club layout, which is soon to be moved from their University Ave. location near Drake University. This club has three layouts in one room, a fairly well scenicked N scale setup, an HO layout and a large O gauge line as well. All three scales had trains running. On the O line, the scratchbuilt MILW steamer that I'd seen at the model contest was running, operated by its builder, Ed Truslow.
It was close to 6:00 when the train cleared the diamond. The sun was setting behind the buildings of downtown Des Moines and barely lit the collection of power at the engine service area. After the yard job cleared the way, a southbound ITDA was given the light and came down to the junction from Easton Boulevard. The train crossed Dean Avenue and rattled across the diamond at 6:12.