Hi Goats! I was rummaging through my old email and
realized I had kept a 4 day journal of my activities during the GNRHS Convention
in Seattle (Bellevue), WA in July 2000. It is an insider's look at putting
on a typical convention for the Great Northern Railway Historical Society...and
how close things sometimes come to falling apart. Enjoy!
Lindsay Korst, GNR
& GNRHS Webmaster.
Date: Thu Jul 20, 2000 4:29 pm
(the day after)
Subject: GNRHS 2000 Convention - Seattle, Washington
I tell you what. I will NEVER take one of
these conventions for granted again. As a
member of the local convention committee for
Seattle 2000, I got a first-hand look at just
how much goes into one of these shows...and
how close disaster is to striking sometimes!
Before I get started, I'd like to first thank
our local committee members: Scott and Jan
Tanner, Bill Lee, Gary Muehlius, John Strauss,
Walt Grecula, Bob Kelly and Dave Sprau.
Scott put this whole show on the road and
somehow kept his sanity throughout. I salute
you most, big fella...
Also I want to thank our national convention
chairman, Jim Chinquist, our Secretary-
extraordinaire, Mrs. Connie Hoffman, our
Registration guru, John Thomas, our
raffle-ticketmeister, John Tracy and if I've
left anyone out, I apologize. Many times,
when things looked desperate, these folks
(and many others) stepped in to help us through.
If the convention was enjoyable and seamless
from an attendee point of view, you can thank
the above people. My hat is off to you guys!
So. Let's get started on what happened through
the eyes of your GNRHS webmaster. I will break
this tome down into the 4 days of the show for
Day One of GNRHS Convention
Sunday, July 16, 2000
Sunday started easily enough. Gary Muehlius
arranged for two model layouts to have open houses
for convention attendees. The first was the Swamp
Creek and Western layout in the Edmonds depot and
the second was the Boeing Employees Model Railroad
Club (BEMRC) in Kent.
About 10am, I took a drive down to the BEMRC. They
had a BN (ex-GN) F45 fitted out with a camera on the
nose and were running it around the layout and
displaying the view on a video screen. What a way to
see the layout! They had two GN trains running when
I was there. One was pulled by Big Sky Blue U-boat
and orange/green F-unit and the other was an all-GN
freight with an orange/green geep on the point. The
guys down there were very helpful and offered to stop
trains anywhere we liked to take pictures (which I did).
Gary Muehlius was on hand to welcome GNRHS members.
I returned to the convention site at the Doubletree
Hotel/Bellevue around noon. When registration opened
at 2pm we had quite a crowd of attendees lined up
already at the tables. Things finally slowed down
about 3pm and I took advantage of the lull to zoom
over to McDonald's to pick up some sustenance for myself
and Scott and Jan Tanner (Scott was local convention
At around 4pm, I was appointed "head bouncer" by John
Thomas our registration guru. At 4:30pm, we allowed the
vendors only to start moving their goods into the Rail Fair
display room. Bob Kelly on our local committee had done
a superb job organizing the tables and chairs in the room
(Bob had even drawn up a map to scale). He did such a good
job, the fire department didn't even bother to show up and
inspect our facility (when he submitted his plans for
approval months ago, the F.D. was astounded at the level
of detail and planning Bob had done).
We gave the vendors special tags to identify them and
allowed them to come and go until 6pm when we let our
members into the Rail Fare. That 1 1/2 hour
"vendor only" time frame allows them to set up and visit
amongst themselves and be ready for the onslaught of
GNRHS members looking for "anything GN".
At 6pm, I got out of the way (to avoid being trampled)
;p and the attendees poured into the show. I took this
opportunity to pick up some treasures myself including
Scott Thompson's new Book 3, "The Orphan Road" by Kurt
Armbruster and other knickknacks too numerous to be
During the evening, I was able to meet quite a few
authors and get my GN books signed. I also want to
thank all you web denizens who stopped me to introduce
yourselves. It's always a pleasure to meet online
GN fans and put faces with those email addresses!
We closed up the Rail Fair Sunday night around 9pm
and had the place securely locked up by 9:30 or 10pm.
I was home in bed by 11pm.
End of Part 1 (Sunday).
Day Two of GNRHS Convention
Monday, July 17, 2000
I was at the hotel at 7:30 to help get the Rail Fair
set up. At 8am, we opened the doors for another 3
hour session of "the world's largest mostly-GN swap
At 11am after we finished up with Rail Fair and
registration, I was pulled aside to help the others
determine our final count of attendees, how many
lunches for Tuesday's bus tour, how many train
riders, how many banquet meals and so forth. We spent
the next two hours going over the numbers to get
an accurate count for the caterers when I had to
leave to help get the first presentation going.
Bob Kelly lined up all our afternoon and evening
speakers which included Warren Wing, Kurt Armbruster,
Duane Buck, Tony DeRooy and Craig Thorpe to name a
few. I had "taken over" the Monday presentations
after it was pretty much a done deal so Bob could
concentrate on the Rail Fair.
Basically, I had to be there at the start of each
show to make sure each presenter had what they needed
(water, laser pointer, slide tray set up and working,
show 'em how to use the slide remote, etc.).
We had two rooms usually showing different shows.
During the presentations at 3pm, I finally tore
myself away and dashed over to Wendy's for a "bun
The following is a rundown of our presentations:
1pm - James Larson/President's welcome
2pm - GNR & Seattle pre-1920 - Kurt Armbruster
2pm - Styrene Modeling - Bob Hundman
3pm - Remembering the Wellington Avalanche - Bob Kelly
3pm - Fraser River Bridge - Frank Leonard
4pm - GN in Seattle post-1920 - Warren Wing
5pm - 6:30pm - Dinner on your own
6:30pm - Briefing on Tuesday's bus tours.
7pm - GN's Monroe Greenhouse - Tony DeRooy
7pm - Publishing Panel - Joe Shine, Richard Yaremko,
8pm - Passenger Trains & Art - Craig Thorpe
8pm - Modeling GN's F-units - Duane Buck
9pm - Annual Business Meeting - President Jim Larson.
It was a long and hectic day making sure everybody
had what they needed. My only real "brush fire" today was
getting handed a stack of slides at 8:15pm by Jim
Larson our President who asked me to find a slide
carousel for him to use at 9pm. It seemed a reasonable
request. However, the hotel's audio/visual department
had gone home by 8pm and after half an hour of futile
arguing with the front desk, I still didn't have a
slide carousel to use. Bob Kelly once again came to
my rescue. We emptied some slides from his carousel,
took it into one of the rooms and tested it out. We
had those slides for Jim ready just in the nick of time.
Thank you Bob Kelly! (and Jan Tanner who helped me
argue with the front desk and track down Bob).
Got home about 11pm and hit the hay. Early start
End of Part 2 (Monday).
Day Three of GNRHS Convention
Tuesday, July 18, 2000
I arrived at the hotel this morning about
7:30am. Already there were quite a few GNRHS
members milling around downstairs at the bus
loading area. No buses yet in sight. As a
precaution, Scott Tanner and I drove over to
the nearby Larry's Market to check on the
catering for today's lunches and pick up some
extra bags of ice.
We got back to the hotel and the four buses
were just starting to roll in. I was assigned
as bus captain along with Jim Chinquist to
Bus 3. Our bus would be making morning stops
at Commodore Park (GN Bridge 4) and Interbay
Roundhouse. Lunch would be at Golden Gardens
Park with box lunches delivered by Larry's
Market catering. Afternoon stops would be at
King Street Station and Belvedire Park overlooking
the new Harbor Island intermodal yard and Seattle.
Gary Muehlius set up the buses which would arrive
at the 4 different attractions at different times
and then all come together for lunch at Golden
Gardens. John Strauss and Walt Grecula arranged
our tour of BNSF's (ex-GN) Interbay Roundhouse.
Gary and John even did a "dry run" beforehand -
driving the routes the buses would take to see if
the schedule would work. The bus routes and tours
went off without a hitch.
Today's major brush fire occurred when our bus tour
was at our first stop, Bridge 4. After enjoying a
very on time Empire Builder roll across the span, my
pager went off. Something was wrong with the credit
card used to pay for the lunches and they hadn't been
delivered to the park yet. Faced with the prospect
of being set upon by 200 hungry GNRHS members, I called
Larry's and gave them my credit card number. The lunches
were delivered on time. Whew! As an aside, Jim Chinquist
came through and paid me by GNRHS check for my half of the
lunches the next day as we rode the train to Bellingham.
Thank you Jim!
The four attractions were a big hit. Probably the "rarest"
of the four was our tour of Interbay roundhouse. When we
arrived at 10am, we were welcomed by BNSF's Jim Emoto and
the other employees who would guide us through the busy
working facility. They broke our group up into 4 smaller
groups of 12 to better show us around. In the tour group
I was in, Jim Lee of BNSF was our guide. We walked through
the entire roundhouse and saw the engines actively being
worked on. We saw the BN 1521 "Operation Lifesaver" unit
parked nearby. We also viewed the turntable and roundhouse
from the outside. That turntable gets used alot! BTW,
if any BNSF personnel are lurking on this egroup list, I
want to thank the BNSF for allowing GNRHS to tour this
facility. You have a top notch crew at Interbay.
Just as interesting as Interbay was touring the King Street
Station. Amtrak and WSDOT personnel were on hand to
show us around. We got a good look at the south portal
of the tunnel under Seattle, the new trainsheds for Sound
Transit and they even took us upstairs to the second
floor to look around! All 4 buses from the tours
returned to the hotel either on time or early.
I should mention that Jan Tanner organized an "alternate"
bus tour on Tuesday for those folks who weren't so
keen on the train side of things. Jan took them on
a tour of downtown for some power shopping and up in
the Space Needle and to Pike Place Market among other places.
Jan also put together an alternate activity Tuesday
evening for the spouses with two hours of "stamp
class" (making cards and things with rubber stamps
After a two hour break for dinner, we began the
evening's festivities with a wine and cheese social
at 6pm. At 6:30pm, we moved into our meeting rooms
and got a briefing on Wednesday's train trip. They
hauled all the train car captains (including yours
truly) to the front of the room and had us hold up
big laminated signs with our name on it!
The idea was to save time in boarding. At registration,
everyone signed up for a car on the train (no assigned
seats). Each car had a captain. You simply looked
for whoever was holding up their big sign (Lindsay Korst
or whomever) and followed them to the train. To verify
who had paid for their train ride, everyone was given a
souvenir button at registration. The car captains simply
looked for the button at boarding time.
At 7pm after the train tour briefing, we began two hourly
sessions with GN Vet's called "Rocky's Rails". We hope
these will be a continuing feature of future conventions
as the days of "first hand experience" with GN railroaders
are getting far too short. Tuesday night's sessions were
arranged by Dave Sprau who took up the torch from the
late Stew Alcroft of Everett whose Rocky's GN vet reunions
were well known in the Puget Sound area.
End of Part 3 (Tuesday).
Day Four of GNRHS Convention
Wednesday, July 19, 2000
A very early start today. I arrived at the
hotel at 6am. Like yesterday, quite a few
GNRHS members were already downstairs at the
loading area. The 4 buses arrived shortly
thereafter and we were all loaded up and ready
to roll at 6:30am.
Today's trip was to be from Seattle to Bellingham
on Amtrak's Cascade Talgo #760. The GNRHS
committee bought all the tickets for today's tour.
The train was "ours" so to speak. If you looked
at the Amtrak web site, you would see the trains
listed as "sold out" six months ago.
We unloaded our 4 buses and walked into King Street
Station by 7am. Each of the train car captains held
up their name sign and gathered up the people
assigned to them. After the consist pulled into the
depot, Gary Muehlius placed magnetic GN logos on both
sides of the front "cabbage" and rear locomotive. Then
Gary went through the train and taped a big orange sign
with each train captain's name on it to their assigned
At about 7:15am, they let us through the doors and out
to the train. I stood by my car door and loaded my
passengers, looking for their souvenir button as a ticket.
The system worked pretty well. No button, no ride.
Everyone was notified of this well in advance and we didn't
have any problems. Upon boarding, each passenger was
given a box breakfast courtesy of Amtrak. By the time I
boarded my car after everyone else, I came upon my 34 people
all happily munching away on their snacks!
Since we had some time before departure, I and a few others
wandered up to the head end to get our shots of the GN logo
on the side of the ex-F40 cabbage leading the train. We
departed on time for Bellingham at 7:45am.
It was a wonderful day for a train ride. Mostly sunny with
a few clouds along the way. BNSF cleared the route for us
and we wound up "waiting for time" before departing each
station on the way to Bellingham.
This entire trip was arranged by GNRHS member and Amtrak
station agent Bill Lee who saw it through from start to
finish. Bill also arranged for the local convention
committee to hold our planning meetings at both the
Edmonds and Everett depots. The entire trip went off
without a hitch. Thanks to Bill and Amtrak!
For the folks along for the ride, Gary Muehlius put
together a wonderful pamphlet including our route
and schedule, a timetable from the original GN
Internationals and radio frequencies and talking
detector locations for those with scanners.
Upon arrival in Bellingham we had everyone unload and
stand with their train car captains on the platform.
Amtrak 760 departed empty for Vancouver, BC. Within a
few minutes, Amtrak #761 appeared from around the corner.
This train now originates in Bellingham, but it is hoped
the BC government will shake loose some funds to originate
this train in Vancouver, BC.
Southbound we had the "pregnant earthworm" consist. One
six car consist was coupled to another nine car consist.
Where the two finned end cars met it creates a round,
streamlined bulge. That and the train's cream, forest green
and brown colors coined the nickname.
Once the train stopped, I pushed the green button to open
the car door (always wanted to do that...) for our group.
We repeated our boarding procedure and everyone was onboard
ready to roll 5 minutes beforehand. We departed on time at
On the return trip, John Tracy came through the cars selling
additional souvenir buttons at $5 a pop. These are based on
the 1950's GN International buttons and are fabulous.
I bought an extra one myself. One fellow from Fargo bought
20 of them to sell to his club members back in North Dakota!
Needless to say, we sold 'em out.
We arrived 20 minutes early back in Seattle and we had everyone
bused back to the hotel by 1pm. I went home and took a nap!
At 5pm that evening, we started our "social hour" out in the
lobby of our banquet rooms. By 6:15, we began moving into
our "eatin' place". My wife, Baolu was along for the evening's
presentation and it was amazing how many people recognized
her from the website! BTW, thanks again to all who stopped
by to say, "Hello"! Always glad to meet you folks to put
a face with that name.
The meal by Doubletree (Prime Rib or Salmon) was very good
with a house salad, rolls and cheesecake for dessert. After
the chewin's, they acknowledged the model contest winners and
local convention members and then started handing out door
prizes (random drawing from registration forms). Yours truly
won a very nice poster of a Casey Adams photo of a GN steam
train blasting across Gassman Coulee trestle.
And then the event all had waited for, the raffle ticket
drawing. This year's prizes were the original artwork for
this year's convention mug (a GN steam engine crossing
Bridge 4 with the GN logo on the counterweight), a framed
print of a GN diesel freight (FT's), a complete set of
convention mugs or 9 different brass cars from Shoreham
We called it a night about 9pm and today I am staying home
and relaxing and getting caught up on my email and web page.
I hope you've enjoyed this day by day account of this year's
GNRHS Seattle 2000 convention!