In the early 1980s, a group of model railroad owner-operators collected into small groups at NMRA regional and national conventions to discuss prototype operations on model railroad layouts. Occasionally, it was suggested the group should plan a get-together specifically to discuss operations and share operating on each other’s railroads. At an ad-hoc operating weekend in 1986 at Lee Nicholas’ home in Utah, the discussion coalesced into a plan to hold an owner-operator hosted ProRail Annual event.


    The first ProRail Annual was held in April 1987 in Chicago. The Chicago owner-operator group, informally known as RailGroup, agreed to host the first event if Kansas City would agree to host the second – ensuring no one would be embarrassed by hosting the one-and-only “annual” event. At the time, no one knew whether there would ever be a third ProRail Annual, although an operating group in northern New Jersey cautiously offered they might be interested, and they ultimately did host the third ProRail Annual.  Since that first “ProRail87,” twenty-three ProRail Annual events have followed in locations throughout the country from Massachusetts to California. Because the ProRail Annual event has proven to be very successful, and because attendance at an Annual is naturally limited by the availability of operating positions, the Annual has spawned numerous regional and local weekend “ProOp” events. These events are regularly hosted a various times throughout the year by groups from Atlanta, Georgia, to Vancouver, B.C.

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What is ProRail?