Rails by the Bay 2021 logo

NMRA 2021 Virtual National Convention


July 6 – 10, 2021
Santa Clara, California
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Welcome to Santa Clara, California - VIRTUALLY!

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New! Online Registration & Payment With PayPal Now Available!

While we were saddened to cancel the live in-person convention we were all looking forward to, the members of the Pacific Coast Region are pleased to announce that planning for a substitute multi-day video virtual event is well underway.

Scheduled to run from Tuesday, July 6 through Saturday, July 10, 2021, this five-day event will mix live and recorded events, including, but not limited to:

  • Video Clinics
  • Video Layout Tours
  • Virtual Operating Sessions
  • Q&A Sessions
  • Layout Owners Panels
  • Prototype Tours
  • Meetings
  • Slack channels, or breakout rooms, for live post-presentation discussions

Each convention day will run from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. Most content will be recorded and available for playback for a period of two weeks after the original live presentation. A dedicated team of volunteers is working to make this a great convention, all for a cost of just $49.00.

The committee expects to cooperate with the successful NMRAx virtual meeting team.

The planning committee draws members from 21st Century Limited, a California nonprofit corporation that successfully ran NMRA’s highly regarded San Jose 2000 and Sacramento 2011 national conventions, as well as local modelers and operators. Pacific Coast Region of the National Model Railroad Association, Inc. is also a co-sponsor of Rails by the Bay.

More detailed information is expected to be released by April 2021.

Current Plans Include:

Video Clinics

We have a clinic by Frank Markovich MMR® who will describe building parts of the "Magic of Scale Model Railroading" exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the capital city of California. More to come...

Video Layout Tours

We'll also be offering pre-recorded video layout tours, coupled with live moderated Q&A sessions with layout owners. You'll virtually visit the top-quality layouts of modelers like Jack Burgess, MMR®, Guy Cantwell, Dave Connery, MMR®, Bill Decker, Dave Houston, Otis McGee, Dave Stanley, and more. Visit the Layout Tours page for more information.

Model Show

We're also developing an online, photo-based model show to showcase the models you've built in the past year, with a "Meet the Modeler" panel so you can chat about your techniques.

Special Interest Groups

Interested in layout design? We'll offer a complete Layout Design SIG program including videos of LDSIG-oriented layouts, and a panel discussion about lessons learned and layout improvements. For operators, virtual op sessions (either as an active participant or viewer) are also under development. We will offer a number of channels for interaction among the attendees to capture some of the feeling of meeting old friends in the hallways.

Actor Michael Gross to Offer Video Message

Michael Gross photoWell-known actor, modeler and railfan MICHAEL GROSS will be offering a special video address during the week; Michael’s past convention banquet talks have earned accolades.

Mr. Gross is a model railroader, a railroad historian with a large collection of railroad antiques, and part owner of the 1:1 scale Santa Fe Southern Railway, a former branch line of the AT&SF which operates between Lamy and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is spokesman for the “World’s Greatest Hobby” campaign, Operation Lifesaver, and the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a member of the Santa Fe Railway Historical Society. In 2016, he narrated Kalmbach’s DVD release “20th Century Limited” about the famed New York Central train which ended service some 50 years ago. He also appeared in the 2016 documentary “Model Citizens”. The hobby is lucky to have someone from the entertainment industry so active in our organizations and programs.

Mr. Gross has been active in film and television since 1975. He starred as Steven Keaton in the TV situation comedy “Family Ties” for seven seasons, and played Burt Gummer in five motion pictures in the “Tremors” franchise. He has appeared in “Anger Management,” “Suits,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Law & Order,” and many other productions.

National Train Show

The National Train Show, which is separately planned and operated, remains canceled and will not be held virtually this year.


Check the News & Updates page for the latest updates on additions, cancellations, and other updates to clinics and other events as the information becomes available.


Please see the Registration page for online and mail-in registration options.


Media Inquiries: publicity@nmra2021.com
Registration and Refunds: registrar@nmra2021.com

This has been a year unlike any other, and we appreciate your patience and positive support as we continue to develop the convention under challenging conditions.

Ed Slintak
Rails by the Bay
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