Conventions & Mini-Meets

The 2019 Convention – Pueblo, Colorado

July 26-28, 2019

The 39th Convention of the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society will be held July 26 thru 28, 2019 in Pueblo, Colorado.  The theme of the convention this year is “The Chico”.  The Convention will be held at the newly renovated Pueblo Convention Center in the heart of downtown Pueblo!  The Pueblo River Walk with restaurants and shops adjoins the Convention site.

Extra fare activities

Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

The Transportation Technology Center is located 25 miles northeast of Pueblo, CO and is a center for advanced railroad research and testing providing unique facilities for worldwide clientele. The center provides research, testing, and training for technology and safety-related issues for railroads around the world.  The center is owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is operated by Transportation Technology Center, Inc., a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads. A bus ride (approximately 40 minutes) will take the tour participants to the center.  The tour will be a bus tour of the facility. Various locations of the center will be included. The Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST) will include a drive around to show where use and testing of Heavy Axle Load (HAL) equipment is implemented to examine how those loads affect rail infrastructure. The FAST High Tonnage Loop (HTL) also incorporates new safety detection technologies under development.

Another facility scheduled for the tour is the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC). The center provides training for emergency response personnel across the nation with various scenarios of potential emergencies that can occur in the railroad environment.  IMPORTANT INFORMATION:  TTC is a federally-owned facility and access onto the grounds requires prior approval before arrival.  International visitors are welcome but requires providing citizenship and passport information. Anyone wanting to participate will need to provide such information in advance of the tour date. Specific information will be provided in the near future.  Additionally, because of the proprietary nature of much of the testing at TTC, photography is generally prohibited.

Evraz Steel Mill and steel mill museum. A tour through the steel mill with a tour guide and then on to the Steel Mill Museum for an in depth review of the mill history and operations.

Then on to the renovated Pueblo Union Depot for a welcoming Fiesta buffet dinner with a mariachi band and a talk by the local Harvey Girls. Next to the depot is the Pueblo Railway Museum will bo open and  will be giving engine and caboose rides.

Thursday, July 25, 2019.

On Thursday morning several layouts will be open for tours. In the afternoon we will travel to Canyon City where we will have a picnic lunch then ride the Royal Gorge Railroad. The railroad trip will be offered in two classes. Dome car, offering excellent views of the canyon, and coach.

Convention activities, Friday july 26 through sunday july 28, 2019

Friday: Clinics, Vendor Sales, Model/Photo contest.  Ladies tour of the Rosemount Museum with luncheon.  Special guest evening speaker:  Larry Green.

 Saturday: Clinics, Vendor Sales, Model/Photo contest and ending with the Society’s Awards dinner

 Sunday: Breakfast, Business Meeting, Albuquerque Convention presentation


Two adjacent hotels will be used:

   Courtyard by Marriot – Connected to the convention center.  Telephone 866-706-7815 prior to July 2.

   Spring Hill Suites by Marriott – across the street.  Telephone 719-546-1234 prior to July 2.

   Watch here for more details.  The Convention Committee hopes to have a full program and registration ready soon!

Planning to Participate in the Model or Photo Contest?  Here’s more information:

Model Contest

The model contest is divided into two groups: a popular vote contest and a technical contest. In the popular vote contest, all models participate and compete for first, second and third place ribbons and “Best of Show” based on the number of votes that they receive from attendees. Popular vote categories include steam locomotive; diesel locomotive; multiple unit diesel locomotive; freight car; passenger car; intermodal equipment (cars and support equipment); caboose/way car; maintenance of way; and structure/diorama.  In the technical contest, models are judged by interested members based on prototype fidelity (10 points), modeling effort and proficiency (10 points) and finish and weathering (5 points), with 22 points required for a Certificate of Technical Excellence, 18 points for a Certificate of Technical Merit, and the best overall model scoring 22 points or more receiving the President’s Award for Technical Excellence.  Technical contest categories include: motive power; rolling stock; and structures.

If you would like to learn more about the Model Contest, click on the following links:

Model Photo Contest

The Society also sponsors a “model photo” contest where participants recreate the Santa Fe in model form and then photograph it. You can see the ATSF entry form here and BNSF entry form here.

Annual Conventions

The Society hosts an Annual Convention, continuously occurring since 1981. The Convention is an opportunity for Society members from all over the world to gather to share their interests and fascination in the Santa Fe. Conventions run from Friday morning through Sunday morning, but often include “extra fare” activities to enjoy local Santa Fe or railroad attractions before the formal start of the Convention. Included are:

  • Clinics by experts on various aspects of Santa Fe history and modeling.
  • Talks by significant figures. Past talks have included former Santa Fe President John Reed and Mike Haverty, noted railroad historian Wally Abbey, and Santa Fe and BNSF officials.
  • Model and Photo Contest. The Society offers both a popular vote contest for Santa Fe models and photographs and a technical contest for serious model builders leading to the coveted Master Santa Fe Modeler title.
    • Past Convention model and photo contest winners
    • Model and Photo Contest Rules
    • Master Santa Fe Modeler
  • Vendor room. A highlight of every convention is the vendor room, packed with vendors offering a wide variety of Santa Fe memorabilia, books, models, modeling supplies and other materials. The Society always stocks a complete Company Store featuring the Society’s books, magazine back issues, models and related products.
  • Networking. One of the best parts of the Annual Convention is the opportunity to find Society members with similar interests, sit down with experts on Santa Fe history and modeling, and discuss your questions and interests with them. Conventions typically have ample seating and access to a lounge to facilitate building friendships with folks sharing similar interests.
  • Awards Banquet. The Awards Banquet is an opportunity for Society members to share in the success of their comrades in the model and photo contest, the fun of raffles and silent auctions of Santa Fe items and models, and the excitement of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Annual Meeting. The Society’s Annual Business Meeting is Sunday morning, where Society members hear reports from the Society’s officers, directors, and operating committee members approve major changes in Society practice, provide feedback to the board on what books, products and services members would like to see. These are lively and informative sessions.
  • Extra fare activities. In addition to the formal activities, most Conventions offer extra fare activities riding trains, visiting museums or seeing significant Santa Fe sites.

Society Conventions typically gather 250 or more individuals from across the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Come share in the magic of a Santa Fe Convention!

Upcoming Conventions

The Society is planning Annual Conventions at the following locations:

  • 2019: Pueblo, CO, John Denny.  The Convention will run from July 24 through July 27.
  • 2020: June 17-21: Albuquerque, NM, contact Dave Traudt
  • 2021: Kansas City, MO

Past Convention Reports

Read about prior Annual Conventions and see what members did, learned, and showed!

Reports on other past conventions and Mini-Meets
List of all International conventions

Society Mini-Meets

Our Mini-Meets are regional based gatherings generally one half to one day long on a Saturday. Interested members have organized these meets in areas not regularly visited by our conventions allowing us to reach the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest.  A mini meet may include;

  • Clinics by experts on various aspects of Santa Fe history and modeling.  Some of these clinics are “warm ups'” for a presenter who will be at a future Annual Convention.
  • Models on display for close up viewing and discussions with the builder.
  • Networking with fellow Society members who live close by and a good way to attract new members.

Upcoming Mini-Meets

Please send us your planned mini-meets so other Santa Fe fans can attend!

Recent Mini-Meet Report:  2017 Southern California Mini-Meet Report

Despite all the rain that has been falling in California this year, Saturday, February 4, was a dry and beautiful day, and a great day for the Mini-Meet. The event was attended by 110 enthusiastic individuals, most from throughout California. Five came from Arizona. One individual in Howland, Ohio, learned of the event and was fortunate to be in Los Angeles on business that week and was able to attend.

For the second consecutive year, the Mini Meet was held at the Christ Lutheran Church of West Covina. Attendees miss seeing the passing trains at the San Bernardino Depot where the Mini-Meet was previously held, but they strongly favor the comfort that the facilities at the West Covina location has to offer.

The day was filled with five clinics.

  • “The L.A. Terminal in the 1930’s & 40″s, by John Signor, Society editor and California rail historian;
  • “Modeling Southern California in the 1960s,” also by John Signor;
  • “Modeling the California Citrus Industry,” by Bob Chaparro, a local railfan/modeler and citrus industry expert;
  • “Railroading in the Steam Era” was a panel discussion moderated by Keith Jordan that included five former Santa Fe employees and Stan Kistler, the noted steam historian, in a roundtable discussion;
  • “Cajon, Tehachapi, Arizona & New Mexico in the 1970s & 80s,” by Charles Lang.

During the breaks between clinics, those attending spent time at the 14 vendor tables and the very large modular layout presented by the California Free-Mo layout group. Of special note is the fact that the modular layout was operating on Sunday for the church members and their families to view, and on Monday for the more than 230 elementary grade students who attend the Lutheran school adjacent to the church. The older children especially enjoyed seeing the model trains being operated. Hopefully some of them will someday be railfans and modelers.

In addition to the above, something else happened at the Mini Meet. Its something that happens at every other Mini Meet, convention and event associated with our Society. It’s the interaction among attendees: meeting new friends, renewing old friendships, exchanging information and learning about subjects relating to modeling and/or the Santa Fe Railway. It cannot be precisely described or measured, but it happened at this Mini Meet as it does at all such events.

Gene Rutledge and I thank all those who attended the meet as well as those who assisted in any way in presenting it. Planing for the 2018 Mini Meet is underway.

–Charlie Schultz

We are looking for a new Southern California Mini-Meet coordinator.  If interested, contact

Past Mini-Meet Reports:

The Society has had Mini-Meets in the following areas (click on link to see past mini-meet reports!):