The NMRA Gateway 2020 national convention is the latest model railroad event to be stopped in its tracks because of the new coronavirus.
One of the largest annual model railroad meets in the U.S., slated for July in St. Louis, MO, was canceled after local organizers determined they could no longer continue preparations, the NMRA announced today. A member of the organizing committee reportedly was diagnosed with covid-19.
The National Train Show, which runs concurrent to the convention, was also canceled.
Robert Amsler, who manages the NMRA’s meetings and trade show department, informed officers and the board of directors of the committee’s decision.
“Neither the Gateway 2020 crew nor the NMRA made this decision in haste or without careful consideration of all involved,” said NMRA. “The cancellation is in the best interest of the NMRA members, their family members and the NMRA.”
Officers and the board of directors supported the decision.
As stay-in-place restrictions went into effect in recent weeks around the St. Louis area, some members of the local model railroad community withdrew their layouts from tours over concerns that attendees visiting their homes could have the virus, NMRA said.
The cancellation is the first for an NMRA convention, which traces its origins to 1935 when a group of modelers gathered in Milwaukee. The convention has persisted in good and bad times, including through World War II.
The national convention, which is hosted by a different city each year, consists of multiple activities for members to learn and participate in all aspects of the hobby. Conventions typically host symposiums on prototype railroads, instructional seminars on modeling, railroad facility tours, auctions and other events and activities.
The NMRA, based in Tennessee, has limited operations since the state issued a shelter-in-place order recently. Staff are managing business electronically.
The Gateway 2020 committee said a refund policy will be published soon at Gateway2020.org for those who have already signed up.
St. Louis has hosted the convention twice, including in 2001. The first convention under the arch was in 1970.
The 2021 convention is scheduled for Santa Clara, CA, followed by Birmingham, U.K., in 2022.