From Bob Halsey
The next (and best) MER convention will be the Carolina Special Look South 2022 http://www.carolinasouthern.org/MER2022.html on October 20-23 next year – put those dates in your calendar! Although the last two MER conventions (both in Maryland) were definitely top-quality events, the Carolina Southern Division is well into planning for 2022, and is ensuring that your trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, will be way more than worthwhile! It will be downright memorable!
We have already planned several tours, first: on Oct. 20 to the North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM) in Spencer (the former main maintenance facility of the Southern Railway, including the huge backshop, large roundhouse and turntable, many historic locomotives, railcars, automobiles, firetrucks, and airplanes. You can get a ride on one of NCTM’s own passenger trains (pulled by one of their ex-Southern diesels), and if we are lucky we may get to see an impressive visitor – the N&W 611 large 4-8-4 steam locomotive, which comes to Spencer from Roanoke for regular maintenance. We will also offer a tour of the National Narrow Gauge Museum and Restoration Facility in Newton, where they have several old and not-so-old railcars and locomotives (steam and diesel). The museum not only has the original fully-restored passenger/freight station, but a separate building with several large O, HO, and N gauge layouts. We are also arranging a tour of the Lionel Corporation’s development center in Concord to see their latest projects (O and HO).
Of course, we are going to have the usual elements for a successful convention: many clinics (including some you have not seen before!), a company store (formerly “white elephant” room), and the contest room. As a judge (“evaluator”) at the last two conventions, I can say that many of the dioramas and rolling stock were not just super-detailed, they were true works of art!
And we will have many layout tours available to visit (too many to list here) including Jack Parker’s Piedmont & Western (HO mountain railroad) and Seth Gartner’s NYC Piney Fork Branch (with its large detailed steel mill). Both of these were subjects of 2018 cover articles in Model Railroader magazine. Also Ed Smith’s Erie Railroad (with its amazing 10-arch viaduct bridge), Neal Anderson’s basement-filling KKL Railroad, and a number of excellent N gauge layouts.
This spectacular convention will be held at the University Hilton in north Charlotte (just off I-485), with a reduced room rate for convention attendees. Although we are not ready to accept registrations (will be soon), our website www.carolinasouthern.org will contain convention details. We have a very interesting Saturday evening banquet speaker lined up – again, more details soon!
For non-modeler attendees (spouses and future adults) there are a number of local attractions: the Mint Art Museum, US National Whitewater Center (whitewater rafting, zip lines, hiking trails), Discovery Place Museum, Duke Energy Explorium, Charlotte Aviation Museum (at the airport), Billy Graham Library and Museum (very interesting!), Charlotte Motor Speedway (you can get really fast rides in NASCAR race cars driven by professional drivers), Concord Mills Mall (it’s a big one), and evening dinner cruises on Lake Norman, plus many good restaurants in the area. I have done all of these things!