About NMRA

What is the NMRA ?

The NMRA is the National Model Railroad Association, Inc. It is a non-profit educational association whose purpose is both to promote the hobby of model railroading, and to help set standards within the industry. But the NMRA is far more personal than that. The NMRA is people – people cross the globe, people in your area, and people just down the street who love model railroading and want to help others get that same enjoyment out of the hobby. Read on. You’ll see that the NMRA is many things to many people. The NMRA is Fellowship. Members at all levels of the NMRA are eager to share their knowledge and friendship.


There are over 150 NMRA Divisions – groups of NMRA members in local communities. Most hold regular meetings featuring interesting and informative presentations on subjects ranging from “how-to” clinics to prototype railroad slide presentations. Many also have a regular newsletter for members.


There are 17 NMRA Regions across the globe and each Region is made up of many Divisions. Regions usually hold annual or semi-annual conventions which can include presentations and clinics, as well as tours to model layouts, prototype tours, and even banquets and swap meets. All Regions have a member newsletter.

In the USA: Every summer the NMRA National Convention brings together its members for a week of clinics, contests, layout tours, prototype excursions, the “National Train Show®”, and dozens of other exciting activities. Every year it’s held in a different city, so it makes an ideal family vacation.

The NMRA is Member Services

Being a member of the NMRA entitles you to a multitude of services, all geared toward expanding your enjoyment of the hobby. You’ll find most of these services listed below in the “Why Join” section. Every month our large, four-colour magazine, NMRA Magazine, will update you on NMRA activities on a Divisional, Regional, and National level. It also includes informative modeling or prototype articles. In addition, NMRA members have exclusive access to Tape/Slide Clinics, Data and Standards Sheets, The Pike Registry, and dozens of other resources.

The NMRA is Standards

When the NMRA was founded in 1935, model railroading was in its infancy, without standards that ensured interchangeability. The NMRA was the organization that set those Standards and Recommended Practices which still guide manufacturers and consumers alike. In fact, the NMRA recently set the manufacturing standards that continue to guarantee the compatibility of different brands of DCC equipment. The NMRA is also deeply involved with developing both Module standards and Large Scale train standards, again helping to ensure that hobbyists enjoy the many benefits of equipment compatibility.

The NMRA is The A. C. Kalmbach Memorial Library

The Kalmbach Memorial Library just may be the largest rail road reference and research centre in the world, containing over 100,000 prototype photos, 6,000 books, and more than 50,000 modeling, prototype and historical society magazines. Every day it answers dozens of members’ questions about everything from model to prototype railroading. NMRA members can get answers to questions; printouts of the periodical database; videotapes and tape/slide clinics, and discounts on research services, photo reproductions, surplus books and magazines.

The NMRA is the Achievement Program

The NMRA’s Achievement Program, or “AP,” is designed to help modelers improve their skills and get more enjoyment out of their hobby. In addition, it gives recognition to those members who have displayed a high degree of skill or service to the hobby. The Achievement Program helps give you the skills that let you build a model rail road you can be proud of.

The NMRA is Conventions

Anyone who thinks a local club can offer the same benefits as the NMRA has never been to an NMRA National Convention in the USA. Each summer some of the best modelers from around the world gather to teach, learn, compete in modeling contests, and view some of the best model rail road layouts around. The convention is capped off by the “National Train Show ®”, one of the largest shows of its kind in the country. You’ll typically find over 150,000 square feet of booths from model rail road manufacturers and dealers, most with special “train show deals” or special model introductions. In addition, Region and Division conventions and meets give members a chance to gather together to gain knowledge and “talk trains” all year long