HO scale steam locomotive with DCC and Sound
HO Scale steam locomotive with DCC and Sound, by a Master Model Railroader®, San Diego Division member.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

If you are looking for an active model railroad organization where you can learn about the model train hobby, share your modeling tips, meet other modelers and have fun, we invite you to join the San Diego Division of the National Model Railroad Association. 

If you are not a member and would like to join, and attend our next meeting or event, please call Rudy Spano at (858) 761-1424. A list of this years events are here online

Next Event:

Saturday, October 14, 2023, North County Model Railroad Society and Swap Meet!!

  • Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023
  • Time: 8:00 a.m.–Noon
  • Location: The North County Model Railroad Society is located in Heritage Park at 230 Peyri Drive, Oceanside, California 92058. The model train layout is located in the Train Depot building in Heritage Park.
  • Accessibility: Yes, the North County Model Railroad Society layout is accessible. The swap meet is located on the park's lawn
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Swap Meet: This is one of the largest model train Swap Meets in San Diego County.
    • The Swap Meet is free for all visitors.
    • Sellers: Please RSVP here: swapinfo [AT] ncmrs [DOT] org.
    • Sellers: Table set-up is at 7:00 a.m. Tables prices to be determined.
  • Food: The Society will also be selling hot dogs, chips, cookies (or donuts) and drinks around 9:00 a.m. at very reasonable prices.
  • Carpooling: Help take the sting out of high gas prices and carpool with a friend.

For more details about the October 2023 North County Model Railroad Society's Swap Meet and self-guided model railroad tour and our other events, please see our Meets/Events web page here.

More About the San Diego Division
The San Diego Division holds in-person meetings every second Saturday of the month, which include members showcasing their own modeling work, layout tours, and modeling clinics. (A clinic is where one of our members demonstrates techniques or skills needed for modeling, for example, an electronics clinic, how to solder, how to weather rolling stock, understanding decoders, or techniques to improve rolling stock standards.) We have quarterly meetings (which includes a luncheon), an annual swap meet, annual picnic and other activities for our members. The Division newsletter, "The Mail Hook", is published quarterly by email and is sent to our Division members.

The San Diego Division (California, USA) includes the Southern California counties of Imperial and San Diego with a population of over three million, and is one of four divisions in the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). The other PSR Divisions are the Arizona Division, Cajon Division and the Los Angeles Division. Please find links to the National Model Railroad Association membership rates on our website. 

San Diego Division Facebook Page, Facebook Group & YouTube Channel 

  • San Diego Division Facebook Page (Anyone can "Like" this Facebook Page.)
  • San Diego Division Facebook Group (Private Facebook Group for our members, new as of April 2020.)
  • San Diego Division YouTube Channel (Our YouTube Channel is new as of the Summer of 2020.)

Pacific Southwest Region, National Model Railroad Association

In addition, there are more benefits to joining the National Model Railroad Association than listed above with the complete list of the Benefits of Membership here online. To join the National Model Railroad Association, new members are welcome to take advantage of a discounted nine month introductory membership rate called the Rail Pass. The complete list of Membership Rates and Renewal information is here online

Model Railroading in San Diego County
Model railroading is also quite active in San Diego County, with multiple model railroad clubs (including the four clubs at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park), there are many home layouts (of which a number of have active regular operating sessions), a very active Garden Railway Society, three model train stores, and several other general hobby stores that have model railroading supplies.

About the National Model Railroad Association
The National Model Railroad Association, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization that advances the global scale model railroading community through education, advocacy, standards, and social interaction. The NMRA is a three-tiered organization. The National Organization is sub-divided into Regions (18 worldwide), and those Regions are in turn sub-divided into Divisions. It is at the Division level that interactions take place between an individual member and the entire NMRA organization.

What's in a Name? 
The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) has named all the local NMRA groups, "Divisions". While it is tempting to call our NMRA group in San Diego, a model railroad club, or just the club, that terminology doesn't quite fit. The reason is, a model railroad club is an organization where the club members own a permanent model train layout, usually in a rented or owned public business-type building. NMRA local Divisions do not own permanent layouts. NMRA Divisions hold monthly meetings and events. It is our members who typically own their own private model railroad layouts. We hope this explains why the San Diego Division is referred to as a Division and not a model railroad club (or the club)! 

San Diego Division Model Railroader Members
Our members are very active in the model train hobby in San Diego. Some of our members belong to model train clubs, some have their own model railroads and some do both. There are three types of model railroaders. People who like to run model trains, model train modelers and model train collectors. Many model railroaders participate in all of these activities. There is a wide range of model train skill levels in the San Diego Division.

In addition, many of our members participate in Operations Sessions here in San Diego. Many of our members have their own Operations Sessions at their home model train layout and many participate in their club's Operations Sessions. Operations Sessions are when you operate your model train layout like a real railroad. Operations Sessions keeps the interest and fun in the model train hobby for your entire life. If you are looking to meet and be part of an organization with active and experienced model railroaders, the San Diego Division might be the right place for you to join.

Please note: The San Diego Division does not have a dedicated physical meeting place or office. Each month, we meet at various locations throughout San Diego County. With the exception of during a pandemic, we hold virtual meetings. All photos on our website credit: The San Diego Division, National Model Railroad Association.