Layout Tours

Of course, the main attraction for the convention are the layouts. We will have 5 full days of layout tours which will include about 30 layouts, many with scratch-built structures. They are located at various places around the Portland metro area with some in Washington. Some layouts in the Seattle, WA area will be open for touring on Sunday and Monday, 25 and 26 August, 2019, before the convention officially opens. Others will be open in southern Oregon for touring on Sunday, 1 September 2019, after to the convention officially ends. Train Mountain plans on being open on Monday, 2 September. The convention guide, distributed as part of your registration package, will have full details of the layouts, the times when they will be open, and maps to them. For more details and pictures of the layouts, see the "Layouts" menu item to view pre- and post- layout pictures as well as those in the Portland area layouts that will be available for touring during the convention.

Touring the layouts can be done either in a self-guided mode or by using the convenient tour buses. Layouts will be open on the days indicated in the calendar from 8AM to 1PM. Buses will depart the convention hotel every day around 7:30AM (on Tuesday, the Salem tour bus will depart around 7:00AM), depending on their route, and return to the hotel around 1:30PM. For visiting the layouts in a self-guided mode, please click the "Layouts" menu, where a brief description of the layouts, their times of tour, and locations can be found.

While you can tour the layouts on your own at no charge, the buses do have a fare of $30.00 per seat each day. To ensure you have a seat on the tour bus, if you haven't already signed up during your registration to attend the convention, please do so at the registration desk at least a day in advance of the tour.


Willamette Shore Trolley - Sold out

Response to this event has exceeded our expectations. We are working on adding a second trolley for both Monday and Tuesday nights. But for now, when you register for the convention, please indicate if you would like to be put on a waiting list for this event, should you want to attend it. If you have already registered, please email our Convention Registrar by clicking here to have you added to the waiting list. Thank you for your understanding and interest.

On Monday and Tuesday, there will be a ride on the Willamette Shore Trolley to the Old Spaghetti Factory. The Willamette Shore Trolley is a vintage trolley dating back to the 1880's. It runs from down town Lakes Oswego to Portland's South Water Front District, a distance of about 6 miles. It follows the west bank of the Willamette River using tracks that were formerly part of the Southern Pacific's Jefferson St Branch Line. The trolley itself is a replica of a type of streetcar used in Portland in the early 1900's. This particular model of streetcar was used almost exclusively on a line between downtown Portland, at elevation 50 ft, and the top of Council Crest, at an elevation 1,073 feet, where an amusement part was located. For this reason, these streetcars became known as the Council Crest Streetcars.

The Willamette Shore Trolley line has a very colorful history, having once run all the way to Portland's Union Station, traveling down the center of Jefferson St in the process and thus the name, Jefferson St Branch Line. The line was originally built by the Portland & Willamette RR in the late 1880's as a narrow gauge line and was converted to standard gauge in the mid-1890's when it became part of the SP rail network. It initially carried both freight and passenger traffic, but in 1910 a bypass line was built to divert freight traffic to the east side of the Willamette River, leaving the Jefferson St Branch with only passenger traffic. Shortly after the bypass line opened over the Willamette River, the Jefferson St Branch was electrified and remained so until the mid-1930's when electrification was removed.

Along the way the line travels through several upscale housing areas, Powers Maine Park and Willamette Park, as well as a number of areas with apartments and condos. At one point it traverses a 500 foot long trestle which hangs on the side of a steep bank some 50 feet above the river. Near the south end of the line, it traverses Elk Rock via an “S” shaped, 1,000 foot tunnel. When originally built, the builders could not afford the cost of, or the time needed to build a tunnel through Elk Rock, so they terminated the line at the south side of Elk Rock, ferrying passengers and freight between the end of the line and Portland's Union Station using a steam boat on the Willamette River. This ferry connection lasted about two years at which point a rail bypass was constructed along the face the Elk Rock cliff that forms the west bank of the river at this location. The bypass used a 50 foot high trestle that paralleled the face of Elk Rock and was about 50 feet out in the river. This trestle bypass remained in use from 1890 until 1920 when the tunnel was built through Elk Rock. During that time the railroad had constant problems with rocks breaking off the face of the Elk Rock cliff and falling on the tracks and passing trains.

A ride on the historic trolley is great fun and very picturesque. Be sure to register for this fabulous ride as seating is limited to 36 persons per trip.



There are several instructive, informative, and useful clinics on the agenda. Many are repeated so you can better schedule your attendance. They will be held in the afternoons beginning on Tuesday, 27 August 2019. All the clinics are free to attend, but the "make and take" clinics have a fee to cover costs for materials, if you decide to build it (or take the materials home and build it at home).


Operation Sessions

This is an excellent opportunity to run trains yourself. You will be part of a two-person crew running trains around a layout, picking up and delivering loaded or empty freight cars or picking up and or delivering passengers. You will be using waybills to identify the freight cars to pick up and and add to your train. The waybills will also identify the destinations for those cars. Dispatchers will coordinate the various crews, granting right-of-way and issuing movement orders. All of this will be done just like a real railroad operation. You don't need to bring your own locomotives or cars; they will be provided. If you haven't participated in an operation session before, don't worry. We will have experienced members on hand to guide you through the process and answer questions. It's always a lot of funLook at a short video highlighting some of the ops sessions aspects. The Ops Sessions will all start at 5PM on Tuesday and conclude around 8PM.



Great food along with great company after a busy day touring layouts and checking out the vendor offerings and attending clinics. Enjoy a ride on the SP #4449 from the Oregon Rail Heritage Society museum, home to Portland's three city-owned steam engines, to Oaks Park, a beautiful 2-mile stretch, where a great meal will be served.

In conjunction with the BBQ, there will be rides offered in the SP #4449 cab for $250 per one-way ride. But you must be 12 years of age or older, and the number of offers is limited, so they may sell out quickly.


Ice Cream Social

Just prior to the grand opening of the Vendor Hall, the traditional Ice Cream Social will get you ready for the exploration of our vendor hall. Ice cream is $5 and a chance to relax for few minutes, compare notes with friends, and plan your activities for upcoming events.

To help us prepare for that, we ask that you register for this event when you register for the convention in order to get tickets to use to get the ice cream.


Vendor Hall

The Grand Opening of the Vendor Hall will immediately follow the Ice Cream Social on Thursday afternoon, approximately 4:30PM. It will remain open until 9PM Thursday night. It will be open from 2PM to 9PM on Friday, and from 9AM to 4PM on Saturday.


Convention Banquet

The banquet speaker will be Doyle McCormack. Doyle was responsible for the restoration of the famous SP Daylight 4449 (our ride to the BBQ on Wednesday) and chief engineer of the American Freedom Train on its 1976 tour.  He will tell of his experiences during this restoration, the founding of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, and of driving the Freedom Train around the country.

Staver Locomotive

Enjoy an evening at the Staver Locomotive layout. Staver Locomotive has a table-high layout renowned for its steam engine activities. They also have an amazing shop where all sorts of railroad related items are manufactured. The layout is both indoors and outdoors, with water features, trestles, and bridges. Really something to see. Check out Staver Locomotive on the web here. And you are welcome to bring your own steam or battery operated locomotive to run on this layout. (This layout will also be open as one of the many layouts available for you to tour.)


Model Contest

Participate in a contest where you can show off your model building skills. Two of the Rose City Garden Railway Society members are also Master Model Railroaders as certified by the National Model Railroad Association, and they will be part of the judge panel. Prizes will be awarded in several categories at the close of the convention. To participate in the contest, you will have to register to attend the convention.

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