Mr. Robert F. Smith, president of the Twin City Model Railroad Association (TCMRA) in 1949, was informed at the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) Convention in Denver of the issuance of the charter of the Thousand Lakes Region of the NMRA (TLR). The TLR received the charter January 1, 1950. The formation of the TLR began prior to receiving the charter. An organizational meeting was held October 30, 1949, at the Minneapolis Union Terminal club rooms located in the Great Northern Depot. On November 16, 1949, the constitution of the TLR was written and adopted by the Board Of Directors (BOD). The preamble of the constitution states the constitution is authorized and drawn up to promote the greater fellowship among Model Railroaders and to advance the hobby of Model Railroading.
The original officers of the TLR were:
Robert F. Smith 1949, 1950
Harris R. Baiter, Secretary 1949, 1950
Kenneth J. Nasty
Articles of Incorporation of the Thousand Lakes Region of NMRA, Inc. were signed on January 25, 1969. The purpose of the corporation is to engage in educational, recreational and social activities in connection with, and in furtherance of, the hobby of model railroading.
The TLR is one of the largest geographical regions of the NMRA. The boundaries of the Thousand Lakes Region: Including all Counties in Iowa north of and including Buchanon, Blackhawk, Calhoun, Delaware, Dubuque, Grundy, Hamilton, Hardin, Ida, Sac, Webster and Woodbury Counties; Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; all Counties in Wisconsin west of and including Ashland, Clark, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, Monroe, Price, Taylor and Vernon Counties; and Manitoba, all communities in Ontario west of and including the Port Arthur-Fort William area and Northwest Territories east of 102 degrees West Longitude in Canada.
Any person joining the National Model Railroad Association ( NMRA ) becomes a member of the Thousand Lakes Region of the NMRA, Inc.. Our original membership in 1949 is not known. We do know that from that date the interest in the TLR grew. In February 1952 the NMRA TLR membership per the NMRA Bulletin was 236. In 1955 NMRA TLR membership was 295. The largest TLR membership was achieved in the mid 1980's when membership soared to 750 plus. As of the last membership report in 2014, membership count is up to 477 members.
The TLR stays in touch with the membership with The Fusee, the official Region publication. Our quarterly published Fuseecontains modeling and prototype articles and regular columns informing the membership of Regional activities. The first Fusee, Volume 0, Number 0, with Allan Haze as editor, was published in November 1952.
The September 1965 Fusee reported the Board of Directors authorized Arden Smith of the Big Sioux Model Railroad Club of Sioux City, IA to design a herald for the Thousand Lakes Region. The TLR logo approved at the Board Of Directors meeting held at Ft Dodge, IA in May, 1966 has not changed since. The design features a yellow locomotive driver wheel with large bright red TLR letters superimposed on a black background, edged in yellow lettering and lines.
To increase the effectiveness of the TLR, the BOD gave approval in May 1980 to Winnipeg, Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities), and North Dakota to form divisions. The No. 1 Northern, Twin Cities, and North Dakota were followed by the LaCrosse - Three Rivers, Minnesota River Valley, Prairie Lakes, Bluffs and Rivers, Kashabowie, Dakota Southeastern, and the Red River. The TLR Divisions are the primary contact for the membership.
During the spring of each year, the annual TLR convention is held in a different location within the Region. The location is chosen via a bidding process. In the early years, two conventions, then known as the spring and fall rallies, were held. After Divisions were formed, Division conventions replaced the fall TLR Rally held each year.
Annual conventions provide rail and non rail programs for attending members. The non rail program was approved at the October 1964 Minneapolis Fall rally. Iris Downs of Sioux City, IA filled the first non rail chair position.
At the annual convention the TLR takes time to honor members who have made contributions to the TLR. Current awards used to recognize such contributions are the R.J. (Bob) Dew Sr. Memorial Service Award, President's Award, and Old Goat Award. A model and photo contest is held at each convention. Contest awards are presented by the TLR to the winning entries.
In addition to TLR annual conventions, the TLR hosted the national convention in St. Paul, MN in August 1956 under the slogan "Back to the Sticks in 1956". The activities included a railfan tour to see the facilities of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads and a another trip to Duluth-Superior to see ore facilities. In 1969 the national convention was held in Minneapolis under the slogan "Lakes and Pines in '69". The highlight of the convention was the fan trip on the Great Northern to the Allouez ore docks in Superior, MN. Again the national convention was hosted in 1983 in Winnipeg, Canada under the slogan "Railway Jamboree". A fourth national convention, NorthStar '99, was held in St. Paul, MN in July 1999. Profits from “Railway Jamboree” and “NorthStar ’99 purchased investments which are still a source of income for the TLR general fund today.
The TLR Region has a proud past and a bright future due to contributions and support of all the membership. We must never forget that without the membership there is no need for the Thousand Lakes Region to exist.
Lester J. Breuer, MMR 387