American Railroadfans in Switzerland
11th Convention

Zurich - October 14-15th, 2000
The Greatest US-Railroad-Show in Europe
© Jürg Lütscher, Franz Stucki

Some history of the Convention

The first "American Railroadfans in Switzerland" Convention took place on October 10,1981. The second Convention was held in 1982, for two days, and a report of it was broadcasted on Swiss TV. The third Convention, in 1984, saw 435 visitors and it was then decided that all subsequent Conventions would be held every other year.
In the following years, the attendance to these Conventions regularly increased to reach over 3000 visitors in 1998 (10th Convention). In the mean time, the Convention Guide was born and evolved from 16 pages in its first issue (1986) to 148 pages for the jubilee Convention, in 1998. Also the number of layouts increased, Ntrak layouts appeared, and later oneTrack layouts. A "Layout Tour" was introduced, in 1988. "Clinics" and "Workshops were put in place, starting in 1986.

Starting in 1988, each Convention was held with a main railroading theme :

  • Narrow Gauge and Rio Grande, in 1988
  • Passenger Trains in 1990
  • Steam locomotives in 1992
  • Railroads in California in 1994
  • Railroads in Chicago in 1996
  • Railroads thru the rockies for the jubilee Convention in 1998
The Conventions are now held every other year in Adliswil, a suburb of Zurich.

The 2000 Convention

In an exhibiton-area greater than 21,600 sq. ft. (2000 m²), American railroad fans were greeted with an extensive view of the US-Railroad scene in Europe. This is the largest and only exhibition of US railroads in Europe with detailed dioramas and operating layouts from "Z" to "G" (including live-steam) and international participation from Belgium, Germany, France, Netherland, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
For the 10th anniversary Convention in 1998, a cupola caboose (only the front-area of it) was built at a 12 inches-to-the-foot scale (height 15 3/4'), from wood. During the 11th convention, the same caboose served as the ticket-office, wearing the red/white/blue American colours. Another ticket office was located in a replica of a Santa Fe SD75M cab, at scale 1:1.

The main theme of this year's Convention was: "Railroads along the West Coast, from Alaska to Mexico", focusing on logging railroads. The side theme was: "ALCO Diesel & Steam Locos". For all themes, "N" to "O" scale models were shown.
Also, with it's "Narrow Gauge Corner" in "HOn3", "On3" and "1/2 inch" (G), this Convention satisfied the most "narrow-minded" fan.
"Clinics" and "Workshops" were held to show visitors what model building is. And an attractive movie, slide, and video program fascinated many visitors.

Additional features of this Convention included an active exchange place (for US-railroad related material), a bookstore , a videoshop, some Swiss dealers of US-equipment, a travel agency and layout tours (guided tours through the Layout Center with 5 large operating layouts in "HO", "HOn3", "On3").
A cafeteria with drinks, snacks and American pizzas was the place where many people met to discuss their favorite hobby.
At last, a free lottery with jackpot (1 Railfan Journey to the West Coast and 2 Airplane Tickets to the USA) was held during this Convention.

Saturday evening, during the official convention diner, the CV-Awards was presented for the best Convention layout.


First we would like to thanks Werner Meer for the perfect organisation of this Convention and we realize this must be a huge amount of work.

We would also like to thanks all exhibitors at this Convention for all the help they provided by stopping their trains where needed so that we were able to take our pictures with a long exposure time. Unfortunately, the conditions (crowd, lighting) didn't allow us to take all the pictures we wanted and we apologize to the owners of some layouts for not being able to show them here. We have however tried to cover in pictures most of the Convention layouts, dioramas and displays.

The American Layout Center

The American Layout Center was born in 1995, in the attic of the Adliswil school which held the convention for several years. It quickly became the meeting place for all American model railroaders. The layouts displayed (HO, HOn3, On3) are either private or belong to the Center. This Layout Center was open to public in 1988, during the Convention and insulation was put in place on 200 feet of roof. During subsequent Conventions, the number of modules and layouts increased, to reach what is shown below. Unfortunately, due to the limited space, the visit could only be done in small groups and for a limited amount of time (1/2 hour) and we were not able to take pictures of all layouts.

1. Poncha Junction & Monarch Branch (On3)

On3 layout 40 ft. long, fully scenicked, made by the members of the Association and shown for the first time (under construction) during the 1988 Convention.
Theme : mining railroads of Colorado, early 20th Century.

2. Eldorado Mining District (HOn3)

HOn3 layout 43 ft. long, 80% scenicked, made by Dieter Stehli and Peter Gloor.
Theme : a subtle mix of 3 ft. railroads in Colorado (D&RGW) and Alaska (WP&Y).

3. Conejos & Elk Park RR (HOn3)

HOn3 layout , fully scenicked, made by Peter Gloor.
Theme : Colorado Southwest at the end of the forties.

4. Mines and Trestles (HO diorama)

HO diorama, 5x2 ft, made by Roland Scherler.
Theme : Mines and trestles some place in the West.

5. Winter at Donner (HO module)

Functional module (DCC, Intellibox), 13x3 ft, made by Alex von Orelli.
Theme : Donner pass under snow, in Winter.

6. Twin layouts (HO)

Two separate HO layouts, 30x10 ft. each connected together in an U shape. The first layout, made by Domenico Bianchi, is 80% complete, while the other layout, made by Franco Rossi is 40% complete.
Theme : A town, many industries, a harbor and a central station can be seen along this huge combination of layouts.

The Convention Display layouts

1. Williams loop (Z), Germany

A 28x20 inches Z scale layout built inside a TV frame by Günther Garn .
This layout features a hidden passing track, thus allowing two trains to be run and is controlled using the TV buttons.

2. Front Range - Tunnel District (Z)

Z scale layout, 160x40 inches, composed of 8 modules showing some tunnels of the "Moffat line". A model of the Moffat tunnel east portal is under construction. Layout made by Alfred Schön.

3. Little Rock (N), Germany

80x40 inches N scale layout made by Oliver Haug, inspired by an article in Model Railroader. US Northern railroading in the 70's (Milwaukee Road).

4. Pumpkin & Western (N)

Sectionable layout (6 modules), 20 ft. long, inspired by the Rocky Mountains. Made by the Heller family (father and daughters). This layout was build over 4 years but one module was made in 4 weeks, in order to be displayed in St Gallen, in 1999.

5. Dease Lake & Northern (N), Germany

oNeTrak modular layout, 24x14 ft. The distinctive feature of this layout is a "live" car float operation operating on real water (80 liters of water). Layout made by Thomas Kuen, Uwe Mauermair et Alexander Rudin.

6. N-trak layout #1 (N - Nn3)

N-trak layout (14 modules) made by members of the Swiss and German N-trak association. Some realistic lighted signs and a small Nn3 layout part of one module.

7. N-trak layout #2 (N)

No information about this layout that replaced a oNetrak layout, as originally planned.

8. Rio Grande Southern (HOn3)

Modular HOn3 layout, 26 ft long, showing some well known locations of the Rio Grande Southern, including Ophir. Built by Alfred Niederhäuser.

9. The Super Sawmill (HO diorama)

HO diorama, 40x36 inches, made by Armin Abbühl. A sawmill in the West.

10. Santa Fe in the Golden Fifties (HO)

57x7 ft. HO modular layout, under construction, showing a line of the ATSF in the fifties. A modular layout allowing many assembling variations.

11. South Bay Harbor & Briscoe Ferry (HO)

80x30 inches module showing a harbor in Northwest USA. A switching layout made by Heinz Rietschle. The track layout has been ispired by the famous Timesaver from John Allen.

12. Industrial switching game (HO)

Modular HO layout, 12x2 ft. including numerous industrial spurs for switching jobs. Layout made by Paul Dell'Ava.

13. Hi Desert & Sierra RR (HO)

HO module, 13x2 Ft., made by Stefan Wagner. An engine servicing facility and a small yard.

14. GN Wenatchee, WA engine facility (HO)

13x3 ft. HO switching layout by Rudolf Beer. A typical GN engine facility of the fifties.

15. AMROS & AML layout (HO)

Modular HO layout, more than 83 ft. long, following FREMO-US standards. Built by the AMROS Swiss association and AML Luxemburg association. Single track in the fifties. Lots of switching.

16. Hi Timber Trestle (On30)

58x15 inches On30 diorama built by Max W. Hintermann showing a timber trestle (Rolling stock byBachmann).

17. 3-Rail Wonderland (O 3-rail)

Modular O 3-rail layout, 27x13 ft. All engines are equipped with realistic sound, including radio exchange with the (scale) engineer.

18. The Bay Shore Line (O)

O scale module made by Günther Holzgang, following an article in MIBA magazine.

19. The Great John Timber RR (G), Belgium

Layout from Guy Tyteca including a good number of home build engines. Other "Daltons" were there, during the Convention... .

20. Narrow Gauge Corner (On30)

A very nice small On30 layout (approx 10 sq. ft.) which was for sale during the Convention. Did it find a new owner? We like the nice setting and the lovely Porter engine

And many more that we could'nt shot...

Page created by Jean-Louis Simonet
Photos by Jean-Louis Simonet,
Fabrice Fayolle
Last update : 10/19/2000
© 2000, Jean-Louis Simonet,
Fabrice Fayolle