Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Eastern Division Toy Train Meet

Eastern Division Toy Train Meet

TCA Toy Train MeetIf you are a collector, operator or admirer of toy trains, the biggest network of like-minded enthusiasts is the Train Collectors of America, or TCA.  And for myself and thousands of other toy train fans, the biggest event is the twice-annual TCA Eastern Division Train Meet, held at the York, PA Fairgrounds.

The Eastern Division York Train Meet is considered the Mecca of all train meets.  It's the largest and finest toy train show in the world.

Lionel Trains

The meet runs Thursday through Sunday every October and April.  It's been running every year since 1954, and every year gets a little larger.  This year over 14,000 TCA members were in attendance, including me!  Unfortunately, the meet is open to members only.  You must be sponsored by a TCA member to become a member, but the TCA is open to families and kids.  I have been a member since 1982.  13,000 members pre-registered, and 1,000 registered at the door this year.  There were over 2,700 dealers in attendance. 

York Fairgrounds

The TCA is headquartered in Strasburg, PA, where they also operate an excellent Toy Train Museum, which is open to the public.

The York Fair was America's first fair in 1765.  York Fairgrounds has been the location of the York Fair and other special events since 1856 in its present location.

I have taken photos only of the exterior of the  fairgrounds and the show, because no cameras or cell phones are allowed inside the buildings - for the trains, antique toys, and dealers' security.

The buildings are a mix of nineteenth century barn style and modern edifices, such as the new Toyota Arena.  The train show usually takes up seven or eight separate buildings; it is that big. 

There is also a separate supervised kids area, with Thomas the Tank Car type rides to keep them busy while their parents see the show.  American Flyer, Lionel, Bing, Ives, and other famous brands are for sale,

Lionel Trains

                   Toy Train Show

                                   Toy Trains

York Fairgrounds York Fairgrounds

This year the Eastern Division Train Meet was so successful that some dealers were totally sold out by Friday! 


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Comment balloon 6 commentsBrian Schulman • October 25 2007 09:03AM


Brian,  This looks like a wonderful place to spend the hours.  I grew up in a train family Grannyda was a trainman for the Canadian Northland his entire working years and we still have the special caps he wore.  My Dad worked for the railway when he was a young man and of course when he was growing up, he had toy train sets. My brother Curtis has my Dad's childhood train's so beautiful.  I love trains...especially the sounds of the whistle on a foggy calm night coming across the distance ...

This train show is so large ! I didn't realize there were so many collectors must have been fascinating to attend. Do you have any pictures of your toy trains?

Here is a picture of the train station that my Dad worked in as a young man (17 yrs old)....the desk he used is still there. It's a museum now and is just breathtaking's in northern Ontario not far from where I was born.

 My Uncle Michel, my Mother's little brother, lost his arm when he was 17 and jumped on a train to catch a ride to work...he slipped and was dragged miles by his belt loop. His arm went under the iron wheels and he never did want a prosthetic arm. He went on to become one of the top executives for CN, one of Canada's largest train corporations.

Nice post, I really enjoyed reading this and seeing your intriguing pictures,


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith over 11 years ago

Jo, thanks for your detailed comments.  I remember the lonesome train whistle sound in the night when I was  kid staying at my grandparents' place in the country in upstate New York's Hudson Valley.  I always thought it was rather comforting.

That's a beautiful train station where your Dad worked!  It reminds me of the stone and Tudor style of the buildings and train station in Scarsdale, NY where I grew up.

I winced when I read the story of how your Uncle Michel lost his arm.  I'm glad he went on to be a success in the railroad business...

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 11 years ago


This looks like a lot of fun!  Takes me back to my childhood days!

Lucky :)

Posted by Lucky Lang, Marco Island & Naples Florida Real Estate (Premiere Plus Realty Marco Island) over 11 years ago
Lucky, that's why I started going - I wanted to see some of the types of Lionel and American Flyer trains I had when I was a kid -
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 11 years ago
Brian, one of my clients went through college and law school on railroad scholarships.  The house he bought is a pretty post section of DC was being sold by a railroad lobbyist who also went through college and law school on railroad scholarships.  He painted an amazing railroad mural on a basement wall.  Both of their dads were workin' on the railroad.  It was a fun transaction.  And I love to see the store windows over the holidays with model train towns set up.  Enjoyed your post a lot.
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Patricia, thanks for stopping by!  I'll bet it was rewarding to be involved in the transaction between the two railroad buffs and the house with the railroad mural...
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 11 years ago