The Story of the birth of The National T-TRAK Layout begins with the birth of T-TRAK itself.
T-TRAK is an American invention of Lee Monaco-FitzGerald; however, the origins of the concept of T-TRAK are certainly derived from the many modeling ideas that she and Jim FitzGerald were exposed to during their visits to Japan in 2000 and 2001. Since its introduction into the United States, in 2000, T-TRAK has evolved and gained a worldwide popularity. The system is based on a few standards for module size, track placement, track interface, and electrical connections. The minimal standards allow for a wide range of flexibility in design yet still maintain interoperability with all modules built to the standards. T-TRAK modules are dioramas constructed with Kato Unitrack, and simply snap together to create layouts from a simple circle to large complex layouts. The modules are designed to fit on tables but could just as easily be set up on any flat surface from the floor (yes, around the Christmas tree) to taller benchwork. Layouts are easy to assemble and even easier to disassemble for those that do not have permanent space for a layout. The convenient size of the modules make them easy to store on a shelf or in totes when not in use, or to transport. The basic T-TRAK module system is based on a 'single'; a module roughly 12.25" by 13", although many modules built are 'doubles' or 'triples', modules that double, or triple the length of the 'single'.
During the 2017 NMRA National Train show in Orlando, coordinator Fay Chin, noting the fantastic reception that the T-TRAK layout was receiving, suggested to fellow coordinator, Bruce Arbo, that an attempt should be made to break the existing T-TRAK record at the next National Train show in Kansas City. The previous record had been set at the World's Greatest Hobby Show, in San Antonio, in 2016. That layout consisted of 264 separate modules, with an outside, continuous run, across every module, of 15.6 N scale miles.
Accepting the challenge, Fay and Bruce, along with the help of the NTRAK (now NRail) organization, and numerous industry sponsors, were able, over the course of the year, to organize participants and material, to come together at the National Train Show in Kansas City to break that record.
The 2018 layout, in Kansas City, occupied an area 70'x50' and consisted of 340 separate modules of various lengths, arranged to provide an outside continuous run, across every module, of 28.4 N scale miles. Numerous inner loops, arranged around the layout, contributed to make the total trackage over 40 N scale miles!
Many clubs and individuals came together to create this historic layout.
Coastal Alabama T-TRAK (AL), Northeast T-TRAK (MA), North Raleigh MMRR Club (NC), Kansas City T-Nuts (KS), Des MoiNTRAK (IA), Central Kentucky T-TRAK (KY), Oklahoma N-Rail (OK), North West Georgia T-TRAK (GA), Iowa Central Modular RR (IA), North Texas T-TRAK (TX), Central Valley MRR (NH), Kansas City T-Rail (MO-KS), Central Missouri Rail Road Assoc (MO), Northwest Crossing (TX), AustNTrak (TX), MANTRAK (WI), KATO (IL), Chippewa Valley Ngineers (WI), Cronkin Railroad (NE) and French Broad e'N'pire (NC). Individuals from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Canada (Ontario) and Denmark have also brought modules for the layout.
Due to the massive response in Kansas City, not only from the participants, but from the NMRA and media, Fay and Bruce vowed to coordinate a layout, annually, at the National Train Show, giving birth to The National T-TRAK Layout.
Although The National T-TRAK Layout in 2019, at the NMRA's National Train Show in Sandy, UT (Salt Lake City area) was smaller than the previous one in Kansas City, it was VERY well received and helped vendors sell out show stock of their just released KATO T-TRAK module kit!
The 2019 event was held in the Mountain America Exposition Center (formerly known as Southtowne Expo Center) in Sandy, UT.
That year, 2019, The National T-TRAK Layout occupied a 40'x40' space, and was anchored by the Color Country T-TRAK Club, of Southern Utah, which acted as the host club. (https://www.ccttc.info/ )
Once again, KATO USA ( https://katousa.com/ ) sponsored the tables for the 2019 edition of The National T-TRAK Layout and many other manufacturers donated merchandise to be awarded to this year's participants via drawings!
Jacksonville Terminal Company ( https://jtcmodeltrains.com/) is fast becoming a major sponsor of T-TRAK and NTRAK events and they graciously sponsored commemorative coffee mugs that were awarded to all of the participants of the 2019 layout!
In addition, Trovestar ( https://www.trovestar.com/ ) sponsored the printed plaques that were given to each module participant.
Although plans for another record breaking layout were interrupted in 2020 and 2021, with the cancellation of the NMRA convention and Train Show in St. Louis, and the much reduced virtual show in Santa Clara, CA, we hosted a VIRTUAL version of The National T-TRAK Layout, here on this website, to help commemorate the 20 year anniversary of T-TRAK in 2020!
2021 saw another interruption in in the regular NMRA National Train Show so The National Train Show Layout did not participate in the NMRA's Virtual convention in Santa Clara, CA, however, the National T-TRAK Layout founders recruited, planned, and organized the T-TRAK Layout displayed at the 2021 N Scale Convention in Rosemont, IL (Chicago)
Once again, in 2022, the National Train Layout planned and organized the T-TRAK Layout displayed at the 2022 N Scale Convention in Nashville, TN.
As space was unavailable, at the 2022 NMRA National Train Show, for a large T-TRAK Layout, the MVNS (Mississippi Valley N Scalers) T-TRAK group planned and organized a very nice smaller layout there.
The T-TRAK Layout at the 2023 Amherst Show, organized by Fay Chin, of Northeast T-TRAK, was an "E" shaped 32' x 32' layout and had four separate loops (lines) consisting of three branch inner lines and one main line. 119 individual modules with participants from CT, NH, NY, NJ, OH, and MA all combined to form a layout with a 4.8 scale mile run around the Red Line!
Now that the NRail organization has assumed responsibility for the planning of T-TRAK layouts at the annual N Scale Convention (NSE) and the National Train Show (NMRA), The National T-TRAK Layout will continue to assist, promote, and sponsor the T-TRAK layouts at these shows and the T-TRAK layout at the annual Amherst Railway Society's Railroad Hobby Show, currently the largest annual Train Show in North America!
The National T-TRAK Layout website will continue to support T-TRAK layouts, across the US, with news, promotions, and a calendar of events soon to come. Stay tuned!
And be sure to check out these other great T-TRAK sites!!!
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