Membership in the NMRA verses the Number of Model Railroaders in the U.S.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

NP2626

Active Member
#1
I know, it's: "Ask not what the NMRA can do for you; but, rather what you can do for the NMRA"! However, I have been seeking numbers on the membership of the NMRA verses the population of Model Railroaders in the U.S. I have been told that membership in the NMRA is around 17,500 people and that this number appears to be shrinking as of late. The number was fairly steady at 20,000 from 2006 to 2012, since 2012, there has been a slow but steady decline.

The population of model railroaders in the U.S. is estimated at around 175,000 people. It would appear that membership in the NMRA is about 10% of the model railroaders in the country. I also know that the NMRA is really an international organization, However, there is no way to bring the number of people not from the U.S. out of the total.

This information was unscientifically gleaned from opinions on the NMRA's Forum. As to it's validity, all I can say is: It is, what it is. Use it; or, not, your call! What is interesting (at least to me) is the 1/10th membership in the NMRA to the overall population of Model Railroaders.

I have found that the NMRA's website is deplorable! I have also found that my regional division, has very little activity and they really don't seem to care about newcomers (It took more than a year for them to acknowledge my membership). I joined the NMRA again, at $75.00 for NMRA and $10.00 for my regional membership. I'm am uncertain, why I did this, again!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#2
Years ago I had a number of people suggesting that I should join the NMRA. I never did. Where I live, and of the meeting or conventions would have been hundreds of miles away. It would have been costly to attend and time off from work would have been necessary to attend. In later years I know a couple of people who left the NMRA. Some were frustrated and some just lost interest in it.
 
#3
I have found and noticed similar things to you. While my region is active and does not have a fee, my division is dead. The stated location for the meeting is non-existent and all attempts to find them has proven fruitless. I do however occasionally go to one of the other divisions meetings just to my south or west (there are three others to choose from). So far they have never run me out.

The whole organization is overly complicated and difficult to understand what is what. Working on the achievement program has also been frustrating as I get different "instructions" from different people. sigh.

I just wish I would have joined back when it was much more simple and just paid for a "life" membership. They did away with those around 2006. I wonder if that could be part of the reason for the membership decline. I almost didn't join because of that. I hate having to remember to do the yearly registration thing.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#4
Your opening statement more than likely explains the numbers you found and is the reason for the declining numbers. In conjunction with that, people are no doubt sick and tired of paying them for that privilege.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#5
Sounds somewhat like what we are experiencing here with our local AMRA. Questions being asked about why are we (the 4 clubs affiliated to it) bothering with it, especially as it only consists of a handful of committee members who in the main, seem hell bent on only their own interests as if they were the only body of any importance.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
#6
I had joined the James River Division of the NMRA way back in the 90s. Not a whole lot of activity amongst the membership. Meetings were to announce the next meeting place. Then the NMRA made a decree that anybody who was a member of a division had to be a member of the region as well as national. I was on the verge of dropping out but gave it a chance by hosting one of their meetings up near Fredericksburg. I coordinated a tour of a coal power plant with demonstration of their RS3 pushing cars, a locomotive pull contest and an op session on my previous full basement layout and a model display contest.
We had either 3 or 4 entries in the model contest, no entries in the pull contest, about a half dozen attended the op session but most just wanted to watch and the same number showed up at the power plant. A lot of work for so little interest.
The next meeting consisted of an hour and a half slide picture show of one of the members maple syrup harvesting operations in a forest somewhere. Picture after picture of tree taps with a bucket under each one to capture the dripping syrup.
I quit after that and haven't looked back.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#7
Last year (2017) I joined at the beginning of the year. I made contact with the president of the Thousand Lakes Region and my local South Red River Valley Division Leader. All seemed happy I had joined. I thought I had put my name on a mailer for up coming events. I talked to the Achievement Director; but, determined I didn't feel I was interested in pursuing this aspect. I was mostly just interested in attending some shows and regional and divisional meetings. I expected someone from the Division to make contact with me as information posted at the website on my divisional events was dismal.

I think the organization can be great for those who live near active divisions. My division does not seem active and when/if they have an Event, it is a 170 mile round trip for me to make a meeting; or, whatever they have going on. I really had to think long and hard about rejoining this year. In the end I felt I would give it another year, because I wanted to be supportive of this hobby that I have enjoyed for so many years. Now, knowing that there are so few NMRA members in a hobby pushing almost 200,000 model railroaders, membership seems like a waste of my hobby dollars!
 
#8
I was stunned by the last paragraph of your first post. $75! I was a member of the NMRA from 1966 to 1980, then off an on after that until the dues hit $44 and membership failed to pass my (personal) cost/benefit analysis. The magazine had gone from a robust publication with a good quantity of modeling info to a few pages (32) of mostly association statistics. I haven't looked back since then. If I ever attend another National Convention, I doubt I'll even join then, I'll just pay the "non-member" registration.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#9
Sounds somewhat like what we are experiencing here with our local AMRA. Questions being asked about why are we (the 4 clubs affiliated to it) bothering with it, especially as it only consists of a handful of committee members who in the main, seem hell bent on only their own interests as if they were the only body of any importance.
That just about covers it.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#10
Red Oak & Western, you can join without the NMRA Magazine for $47.00. That would save you $28.00. However, I looked at this like; if I didn't take the magazine, then WHAT am I getting for my membership fees? Occasionally, I find useful information in the magazine, similar to what I find in Model Railroader; or, any other Model Railroading magazines subscriptions I pay for.

Those of you who are in active Regions; or, Divisions, should consider yourself fortunate!

I am thankful for the Standards and Recommended Practices. My $10.00 for the TLR news letter is a good enough deal.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
#11
I once belonged to the NMRA and paid the annual dues. I lost my membership card and twice requested a replacement and never received a reply or replacement.

Then, I read that some of the upper staff of the NMRA National Office were traveling, to I believe Germany to attend a Toy Show. I thought I'm paying dues for their travel overseas and I can't even get a replacement membership card!!!!

Never renewed my membership after that.

I think that the NMRA is serving some purposes, but I'm no longer a member. The local WISE Division is very active.

Greg
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#12
Greg,

I think (honestly) there are two sides of the NMRA, the self serving executive who are only interested in what best suits them and, from your post, having the members pay for their little jaunts around the world and the regional offices.

No doubt there are "some regional offices" that do support their members and do perform some meaningful things for the hobby but, apparently, they even few and far between. Frankly, I couldn't blame the regional offices for doing little when they receive such an apathetic attitude from the executive.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#14
How do I join the Non-member group, association, club, whatever?

When you go to an event as a non-member of the NMRA or one of it's regional functions, what does it cost to attend?
 
#15
Generally about $5.
It seems to me that nearly everyone here has never actually been a member. Oh, yes, you may have joined for a year or two, but you probably were expecting to receive some big thing that didn't happen. Oh, well.
I've been a member since 1980 and have only attended two Nationals. I can say that it has been enjoyable working with my division and not the national or even the regional. But I'll let it go at that.
 
#17
I'm another former member. I seriously thought about getting back in until I saw the price of dues. The local division is relatively active, and still sends me mailings, but the regional is meh. The problem, as I see it, is that there is a high overhead cost associated with the National Headquarters, that seems to suck the lifeblood, and cash flow away from the rest of the organization. Then there are the cliques, (like anywhere it's a diverse hobby. else). I understand that the NRHS has similar problems. All in all, I believe that 10% of all those in the hobby, may be on the high end of estimates. Keep in mind that there are others who consider themselves Model railroaders, who are not scale modelers. many of those belong to TCA.
 
#18
When you go to an event as a non-member of the NMRA or one of it's regional functions, what does it cost to attend?
Well, that shows how long its been since I've gone to an NMRA National. I checked the 2018 convention website and you MUST be a member to register. The last time I attended a convention, it cost $100 for NMRA members and $120 for non-members. Dues cost at that time was $32.
 
#20
Well, that shows how long its been since I've gone to an NMRA National. I checked the 2018 convention website and you MUST be a member to register. The last time I attended a convention, it cost $100 for NMRA members and $120 for non-members. Dues cost at that time was $32.
And the funny part. I've only been to one convention (St. Louis 1999), and I didn't pay anything because I was an exhibitor.
 



ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com