Gateway to Tacoma postcard: Tacoma Historical Society digital image

Welcome to Prairie Line Experience, your 2023 PNR convention. The Fourth Division Host Committee expects to see you in Tacoma May 10-14, where we are not only celebrating the Pacific Northwest Region of the NMRA, but also participating in two major historical events. 2023 is the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Prairie Line, which brought the Northern Pacific Railroad to Commencement Bay and the 150thanniversary of the City of Destiny—Tacoma, WA. It is no exaggeration to say the Northern Pacific Railroad made Tacoma. Today the trackage of the Prairie Line is a park running through the University of Washington campus. The university retained many of the buildings served by the Northern Pacific along the Prairie Line, and these buildings serve as the backbone of the University and Museum district. 2023 is also the 50th anniversary of NTRAK modular model railroading. 

Loco on Prairie Line. University of Washington-Tacoma photo

THIS IS YOUR CONVENTION. To maximize the educational and fellowship opportunities for you, we need to know what you would like us to include in convention activities. To start our activities off we will be offering a Modeling With The Masters event. There is a page on this site to indicate that you would like to participate and the project you would most like to tackle. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn and share with some of our own best modelers. Our Clinics Committee is searching throughout the Region and beyond to schedule the most diverse and highest quality presentations. The question that remains is what do you want to have available in the way of clinics? The Layout crew is trying to set up a series of visits that will demonstrate a variety of modeling approaches and high skill levels in constructing layouts. The question is, what do you want to see during your layout visit time? There are more things to do and see in Tacoma and the immediate vicinity that can be managed in the few days we will be together. Our activities teams are going to narrow the selection down to recommend a few that should be of interest to most. That said, we still want to know what you want to see and visit while in town. Speak up; send us an email. Our overall aim is to make sure that every minute you spend at the convention is enjoyable, educational, and adds value to your modeling. It is also important to us that when you decide to go outside the venue for an activity that your time is well spent and you enjoy that experience. Tell us what you would like us to include in the convention agenda and we will try to make it happen.

We plan to link many convention events to the historic anniversaries with clinics, and tours. There should be an opportunity to operate on an NTRAK layout in the convention venue. In addition to scheduled self-drive layout tours we are working to include the possibility of participating in some operating sessions on some well-known area layouts. Tacoma and the surrounding area are filled with rail fanning opportunities, from the Tacoma rail yards, the AMTRAK and light rail stations to Chamber’s Bay and beyond. Our intent is to find the best possible locations and point you in the right direction.

If you are interested in seeing things besides railroads, the Tacoma-Seattle area is filled with world class museums, parks and gardens. There are restaurants to suit any taste from gourmet steaks to seafood with plenty of Asian and Latin options in between. One of the advantages of our hotel is that it is located one block from the free Tacoma Light Rail station providing transportation to many restaurants without having to worry about paying for downtown parking. It is also one block from the AMTRAK and Sounder station for those arriving from outside the local area or those wanting to run up to Seattle for more museums, gardens, parks and restaurants.

Whether you have been to Tacoma before or are a first-time visitor, The Prairie Line Experience will have something you have not experienced before. Mark your calendar and register to participate in what promises to be a great PNR convention.

As a teaser for things to do places to go and things to see, consider this list.

Washing State History Museum including the PSMRE Layout

Glass Museum

LeMay’s American Car Museum

Tacoma Art Museum

Point Defiance Zoo

Ft. Nisqually

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Foss Seaway Museum

Air and Space Museum

Federal Courthouse (Union Station)

Naval Undersea Museum. Keyport

Naval History Museum, Bremerton

Sounder Train to Seattle

Tacoma Rail Link light Rail

Ferry to Vashon Island