by Jim Walsh
NERx was the 2020 virtual convention hosted by the Northeastern Region (NER) of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). It took place on four nights (Dec 1-4) and provided live streams on both YouTube and Facebook. NERx responded to a need to get together in these days of limited contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the early days of the pandemic stay home orders, a social media team at the NMRA began streaming virtual events under the name of NMRAx. They have been streaming these events for months and provided model railroad clinics and layout tours for NMRA members and the general public. By the middle of July, circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Northeastern Region convention committee to postpone the 2020 convention to October 2021. The NER convention suffered the same fate as so many other events this year but the staff wanted to have some kind of event for the NER members. The stay home orders of the pandemic afforded many model railroaders the opportunity to do more modeling. However, it deprived all model railroaders of a great benefit of NMRA membership — the fellowship and camaraderie of the live events. The NER was determined to fill this need and a dedicated group of volunteers organized the virtual convention and secured the clinics and layouts. This NER group collaborated with the experienced and capable NMRAx team and together they were able to conduct a very successful NERx virtual convention.
Unlike a normal live convention, there was no choice of content in each time slot. The convention committee assembled a great mix of clinics and layout tours that was appealing to a broad spectrum of model railroaders and offered a good variety. It was truly a regional convention in that the clinics and layouts were from members of the NER and viewers were able to see some of the very accomplished modelers in the region.
One of the highlights of each night was the celebration of the Achievement Program accomplishments of region members. A great benefit of NMRA membership, the Achievement Program challenges members to learn new skills and become better modelers.
ABOVE: First Place in the Motive Power category was awarded to Dave Durr for this model of Pennsylvania Railroad F7B 9832.
ABOVE: First Place for Rolling Stock went to Chuck Diljak for this model of Lehigh Valley “Wrong Way” boxcar 78776.
ABOVE: In the Structure category, this model of H. H. Richardson Design Passenger Station by Jim Murphy earned first place.
ABOVE: Pueblo Stage at Totavi, N.M., by Jim Gore is first place in the Display category.
No convention is complete without the contest room filled with displayed models. To fit the virtual environment, instead of actual models, photos of the model entries were available on the convention website. The accompanying photos show the first place models for the four categories of Motive Power, Rolling Stock, Structure, and Display. Did you miss the NERx virtual convention? All the clinics and layout tours from NERx are available for everyone on YouTube, just search for “NERX” in the description.
North Eastern Region, NMRA