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RPM About Us


    RPM Mission Statement  

Mission statement written in 1987 by Joe DElia. and still applies today

  • Promote the prototype modeling of all eras.
  • Develop greater knowledge and understanding of prototype railroading, it's history, and it's cultural and economic significance.
  • Nurture and increase the exchange and sharing of both prototype and modeling information among modelers.
  • Uncover new sources of prototype information and share the results of prototype research.
  • To work with manufacturers to "encourage" production of prototypically accurate models.
  • Improve communication among modelers, researchers, historians, manufacturers, authors and editors to avoid unnecessary errors and duplication in both products and publications.
  • Encourage participation, mutual support and fellowship among prototype modelers.
  • Gain increased recognition and respect for prototype modelers and modeling and improved coverage in the model railroad press.
  • Provide guidance and encourage members to organize local meets.
  • Celebrate new and lasting acquaintances with people who share a common interest and wish to share their knowledge with others.

    Early History of RPM


    The history of the Railroad Prototype Modelers began in the summer of 1984, when Peter Arnold, Richard Yaremko, Bill McKean, Joe D'Elia and Jim Hagan got together at the National Model Railroad Association National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri to renew old acquaintances. Each individual in this group had felt for some time that there was a lack of modern prototype modeling being shown in contests, displays and publications in the model railroading hobby. After several discussions, the group planned to hold a gathering the next year at the 1985 NMRA National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Back in 1983, at the Winnipeg convention, the group had met another prototype modeler, Mel Anderson, who luckily happened to be one of the co-chairmen for the Milwaukee convention, so arranging meeting space, obtaining award ribbons and getting NMRA recognition and publicity was made much easier. The response and turnout at that first gathering of the Modern Prototype Modelers was more than any of the group had imagined. One hundred and twenty five models arrived for display and judging. A selection of the freight car models were featured on the cover of the May / June 1986 issue of Model Railroading magazine. Coverage of the event was also provided by Railroad Model Craftsman magazine and the NMRA Bulletin.

    The second meeting was held during the 1986 NMRA National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Under the coordination of Joe DElia and Bob Benson (both of whom have organized and coordinated all of the RPM/NMRA National Events since the first in Milwaukee, with the help of many dedicated individuals), the 1986 Modern Prototype Modelers event was another resounding success. These first two events generated so much enthusiasm in the modeling world that the third gathering at the 1987 NMRA National Convention in Eugene, Oregon was expanded to include models of earlier prototypes (brought about by the encouragement and assistance of Richard Hendrickson), and Joe DElia renamed the Group and officially changed the name to the RAILROAD PROTOTYPE MODELERS (RPM) - covering three eras: Modern (circa 1955 -present), Classic (circa 1930 - 1955) and Vintage (circa 1900 - 1930).

    In 1988, the Railroad Prototype Modelers National Event was held in conjunction with the NMRA National Convention in Birmingham, Alabama. It was another excellent get-together with modelers coming from across North America and from as far away as Sweden. The winning entries in the contest were dominated by two excellent, and at the time, unpublished modelers, once again showing that there are a great many modelers in the hobby doing excellent work that deserves to be, and should be, seen by others. In addition to the contests and discussions, there were several specialized clinics given, including one on "Writing Magazine Articles" by Robert Hundman of Mainline Modeler.

    The year 1989 was a year of expansion for the Railroad Prototype Modelers, in addition to the sixth annual meet at the NMRA National Convention in Houston, Texas, several regional events were held. In February 1989, a meet was held at the "Big Railroad Hobby Show" in West Springfield, Massachusetts, a show with past records of drawing over 13,000 people!. This meet featured contests, clinics, displays, layouts and slide shows, and was coordinated by longtime RPM supporter Stephen Solombrino. Also in February, the first RPM meet in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States was held. This event was headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, and was co-sponsored by the Santa Fe Modelers, Great Northern, Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, New York Central and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Societies. This was the type of cross-support that benefits everyone, and needs to happen much more in this hobby. This meet was coordinated by Keith Jordan, who is now the editor of Mainline Modeler magazine. In July of 1989, there was a gathering of the Railroad Prototype Modelers at the Santa Fe Modelers Convention in Countryside, Illinois, spear-headed by John Tobin. Then in October, a meet was held at the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society in Troy, New York, coordinated by John Nehrich and Jeff English. This meet featured clinics, contests, displays" and discussions with historians and industrial archeologists on modeling as a form of historical preservation. The Railroad Prototype Modelers event at the NMRA National Convention in Houston, Texas was held in July and August of 1989. Several modelers entered and took home awards in both the RPM and NMRA contests. The local organizers of "Astro Rail '89" did an excellent job despite the untimely arrival of an unwanted visitor - Hurricane Chantel.

    Then came 1990, and the big one - the NMRA National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the theme of "Learning from the Prototype". To quote from a magazine review of the event: "For three solid days, it was the busiest room at the Pittsburgh Limited Convention. I'm speaking of the model display and contest sponsored by the Railroad Prototype Modeler (Model Railroading, October 1990, "Creating Railroad Prototype Models" by W. Terry Stuart). There were several new features introduced at the 1990 meet. Two new categories were added to the display/contest: structures and vehicles -in response to requests made during previous events. There were one hundred and eighty model entries from all over the world. This was the largest RPM meet in the history of the informal group. Many modelers who are contributors to railroad hobby publications got to meet their counterparts, as well as many of the modelers who read their articles, to discuss modeling techniques. One of the biggest goals of RPM is to encourage and facilitate this kind of sharing. 1990 also saw the beginning of award sponsorship by prominent railroad hobby manufacturers such as City Classics, Athearn, PPW-Aline, Stewart Hobbies, C&BT Shops, Model Die Casting, Con-Cor and Overland Models. RPM also created a new operating structure at the Pittsburgh convention, composed of regional coordinators working with a central communication and coordinating body.

    In 1991, the NMRA National Convention was held in Denver, Colorado, with an excellent turnout for the RPM display booth that was sponsored by Railmodel Journal magazine. 1991 was also the year that brought the biggest change to RPM - the formal organization of the group - with memberships being offered, the debut of the official RPM publication "1:87 Scale" (which is made possible through the dues support of the membership), and the coordination and leadership that will make Railroad Prototype Modeling the standard for years to come. To be continued: