The History of San Antonio NTRAK
Page 3

By June 1990, the N-Scale group was beginning to come together. At this time we had enough modules to make an oval layout 8 ft. wide by 34 ft. long. This layout was owned by a total of four NTRAK /SAMRA members. We were set up along one wall in the Terrell Plaza building while the SAMRA modular HO layout occupied the rest of the space with a huge operating pit in the center. I had completed my sandpit module by this time and started working on a six foot industrial module. Also, there were other NTRAK members and interested individuals with modules under construction. It was at this point that we decided on the name San Antonio NTRAK Association or SANTRAK for short.

The first heavy blow to the N-Scale group came at the August 1990 SAMRA meeting.

We were informed that SAMRA had to vacate the Terrell Plaza location as soon as possible. The Naco-Perrin location was still being refurbished and storage space was at a minimum. There was nothing left for the N-Scale members to do but get together and store their individual modules along with the four battleship corners that now belonged to David Coates.

There had been discussions about the layout designs for the new building for several months. A couple of us submitted ideas with possible track plans because we still had hopes of getting a corner for N-Scale.  However, that was not to be. Sometime around September or October 1990, the planning committee decided the track plan would be in HO and it would take up ALL of the available space! This was the second and final blow to the N-Scale group. We had no place to go and were no longer supported, as a group, by SAMRA. The members of SANTRAK were on their own!

Yes, there was considerable rivalry between some of the HO modelers and the N-Scale modelers at that time, and it didn't get any better when we offered, earlier in the year, to build the annual raffle layout for the 1991 SAMRA Jamboree. Several people said that no modeler in his right mind would buy a raffle ticket for an N-Scale layout. Well, we got together at Marshall Long's house, built the layout in his garage and had it ready well before jamboree time. In fact, we even had it on display at Dibbles for about two months prior to the jamboree. Some of the older HO modelers still didn't believe people would be interested, so they decided to sell the tickets, during the jamboree, for a quarter a piece or five for a dollar. They were quite surprised by mid afternoon when they ran out of tickets They were even more surprised later on when they found out that, in spite of the low ticket price, the little N-Scale layout had brought in more money, after expenses, than any previous raffle layout up to that date!!!

The year 1991 was a year of learning for the members of SANTRAK. Each member kept his modules at home and brought them out for shows or an occasional club meeting. Storage facilities and the periodic handling often caused minor damage that the owner had to repair. During this time a couple of the members were able to provide enough space to host a meeting or two on Saturdays. Tom Fairchild allowed us to set up in a barracks on Lackland a time or two, David Coates allowed us to set up in his garage one time and Tom Crow allowed us to set up in his flower shop two or three times. These meetings were “long on work” and “short on running time” but they gave us a chance to practice our set up and tear down techniques along with a chance to check out new modules as they were completed. If we were able to run trains for four hours before time to tear down, we felt the meeting had been a success.