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HomeMidwest Division History

This article first appeared previously in the December 1983, 1988, and 1993 anniversary issues (the 25'", 30th, and 35* Division anniversaries) of the Midwest TCA'er. The editor wishes to acknowledge the previous contributions of Dave Von Gillem, the late Peter Jugle, Dave Garrigues, and Chris Rohlfing in preparing and researching the background and history of the Midwest Division.
The first meeting of the Midwest Division was held on April 7th, 1959 in Ginkgo, Illinois. The original meeting was attended by four members. They were Don Root, Clyde Farman, Fred Riedemann, Jr., and Virgil Mossman. Informal meetings were held through the remainder of 1959. The division was 'officially organized as the Midwest Division of the Train Collectors Association in January of 1960. The first president of the Division was Fred Riedemann, Jr. and the first secretary was Don Root. The first Division newsletter was also published in January of 1960. Don Root was the editor. From this time on, regular meetings of the Division were scheduled and monthly newsletters published to the present time.
Membership continued to grow and the Division published its first directory in 1961. The 1961 directory lists 26 members. Meetings were scheduled the second Sunday of each month and were held in the members' homes, with an Annual Open Meeting and Family Picnic in June. The annual meeting was open to all national TCA members. 1961 also marked another milestone in the Midwest Division. Miss Connie Morrel became the first woman to join the Division as a full member (not a family member) in July of that year. Every meet included an auction. Dave Von Gillem remembers that he bought a number of standard gauge freight cars at auctions in 1961 for fifty cents each! He also recalls that Ray Melzer had to bring a #381 to several meets before selling it because of the then exorbitant price of $50.
A second directory was published in 1963 and lists 48 members. By then, members were coming in regularly from Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and several points in Michigan. Regular meetings were still held the second Sunday of each month, but the annual "Open Meeting" was moved to August The annual meeting was a two day event that ran until 5:00 P.M. each day. The 1967 Directory lists 93 members.
Membership continued to grow until it was too large to hold meetings in homes. The last meeting scheduled in a home was a backyard meeting scheduled in the summer of 1969. In the meantime, a number of meetings were held at the Fox Park Field House in Oak Park. In January 1970, the Midwest Division moved to its first permanent meeting site in Hinsdale, Illinois. As the membership continued to grow and Hinsdale was outgrown, the Division met briefly at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, and then moved to the Northlake Hotel in Northlake, Illinois. In 1977, the Division moved to Driscoll High School in Addison, Illinois. In 1981 the Division met for several months at Thomwood High School in Dolton, Illinois before moving to the current site of Indian Trail Jr. High School in Addison. Since moving to Indian Trail in 1981, the Division has continued to grow. Noteworthy achievements of the Division certainly include its hosting the National Train Collectors Association annual conventions in 1964, 1970, 1980, and 1991, all of which established records for both attendance and success. Midwest Division hosted the annual National Convention in 2002, which set a new standard for conventions. Today the Midwest Division has over 650 members. The growth and success of the Division is in large part due to those who have continued to support the Division with their membership and those who have served a leadership role in the Division over the years.
The following is a list of those members who have served as President of the Midwest Division - TCA:
1960 - Fred Riedemann Jr.
1961 - Ray Melzer
1962 - Ray Melzer
1963 - Dave Von Gillem
1964 - Bill Sanchez
1965 - George Macek
1966 - George Chase
1967 - Bill Kaczynski
1968 - Earl Rath*
1969 - Tom Johnson
1970 - Stew Kleinschmidt
1971 - Don Seale
1972 - Dave Garrigues
1973 - Skip Tosch*
1974 - Mike Hill
1975 - Joe Gurdak
1976 - Joe Gurdak
1977 - Joe Bak*
1978 - Fred Ott
1979 - Rich Sherry
1980 - Jack Kelly
1981 - Dave Christiansen
1982 - Ken Koehler
1983 - Tom Cannella
1984 - Chris Rohlfing
1985 - Bernie Puratewski
1986 - Mike Toth
1987 - Steve Holic
1988 - Larry Kesselring
1989 - Ron Hoppe
1990 - Tom Voltaggio
1991 - Tony Neckopulos
1992 - George Werderich
1993 - Charlie Lipari
1994 - Jim Van Duerm
1995 - Chris Rohlfing
1996 - Frank Piazza
1997 - Robert DiDomenico
1998 - Steve Holic
1999 - George Werderich
2000 - Norma C. Reed
2001 - Frank Piazza
2002 - Manny Piazza
2003 - Wayne Michalak
2004 - Wayne Michalak
2005 - Walter Werderich
2006 - Bill Kobernus
2007 - George Werderich
2008 - Jeff Merchant
2009 - Bob DiDomenico
2009 - Walter Werderich
2010 - Wayne Michalak
2011 - Bill Kobernus
2012 - Richard Lambke
2013 - Ronald Miller
2014 - Jim Kleinschmidt
2015 - Wayne Michalak
2016 - Charlie Tucek
2017 - Mike Santangini
2018 - Walter Werderich
2019 - Bill Kobernus
*Served as National TCA President
The first Midwest Division cars were produced in 1974-1979. This consisted of five cars and an F-3 cab. The F-3 cabs were painted in C&NW yellow and green and lettered for the Midwest Division. The train consisted of a Kris boxcar in 1974, a Lionel redecorated hopper in 1975, a Lionel bicentennial caboose with MWD plates in 1976, the F-3 cabs in 1977 (John Nocita recalls number boards and an MWD on the nose of the F-3's. There was a limited number of the second F-3's.), a Lionel 9725 stock car with MWD plates in 1978, and an over-stamped Lionel PFE reefer in 1979 completing the set. The PFE car was the last general issue car for 20 years.
In December 1983, Ken Hein painted 12 Lionel reefers in Northwestern colors and lettered them for the Midwest Division's 25th Anniversary. They were given as door prizes. In December 1977, 5 Lionel boxcars were decorated and lettered Illinois Central and MWD 1988 for the 30th Anniversary. They were also given as door prizes. In December 1993, 15 K-Line boxcars were painted hi Illinois Central Gulf by John Nocita for the 35th Anniversary. However, MWD did not appear on the car except for a sticker on the bottom of the car. They were also given as door prizes.
For the 40th Anniversary of the Division, the decision was made to produce 100 cars commemorating the anniversary. John Nocita designed the car using the new MWD logo that he created depicting the Chicago Skyline and the original MWD Logo underscored by the Burlington Zephyr. The cars are painted hi Northwestern Green and Yellow and are lettered "Celebrating 40 Years". The cars are Crown Model Products cars decorated by Crown. The profits from the car were used for the 2002 TCA convention hosted by the Midwest Division.
To raise money to help fund the new TCA National Museum at Strasburg, Pennsylvania several members of the Midwest Division each donated money ($50) to buy and stamp 4 different Lionel cars. These are known as the Museum Booster cars. The cars were regular issue Lionel cars over-stamped with a TCA Museum Express logo. They were sold mainly at the Midwest Divisions' Big Meets.
1964 - No convention cars. The convention car program began in 1965. There was a money clip and coffee mug sold as commemoratives at the convention. The convention was chaired by Dave Von Gillern.
1970 - A Lionel 0-Gauge #6464-1970 yellow with red door boxcar was designed by Dave Christenson. It sold for $9.00. A McCoy standard gauge white tank car with red and blue lettering sold for $13.95. Dave Christiansen and Ray Melzer designed the car. There were also two Kris cars, a white 1970 calendar boxcar with black lettering and brown sliding doors with 1970 and Flyertown in silver lettering on the doors, and a white 1970 calendar boxcar with black lettering and light red doors (only 20 were made). Flyertown was the theme of the 1970 convention. The convention chairman was Ray Melzer.
1980 - A Lionel 0-Gauge dark green President's observation car titled Land of Lincoln was the first car in the 1980's TCA Passenger set. If you attended the convention you received a circular hub for the rear of the car. The car was designed by John Nocita and sold for $30.00. The McCoy standard gauge car was a red hopper car, which sold for $30.00. Dave Christianson chaired the car committee, hi those days cars were available for pick up at the convention. The convention chairman was Mike Hill. For each of these conventions Charlie Nine and Richard Sherry painted standard gauge tank cars and boxcars to be used as door prizes.
1991 - The national offerings were a K-Line silver 0-Gauge Amoco tank car with black lettering which sold for $29.95; a Lionel American Flyer green and yellow Chicago and Northwestern refrigerator car, which sold for $39.50; and a Charles Ro G-Gauge Tuscan Illinois Central bunk car with white lettering, which sold for $69.50. Lionel was asked to do a 0-Gauge piggyback car with Sears trailers, but Lionel did not follow through. Jim Van Duerm chaired the convention car committee.
There was also a TCA National fundraiser involving the first K-Line interurban in the South Shore line. This was to be a Division project but National took it over. Dave Christianson took all the photos and did the drawings. All those who attended the banquet received decals for the interurban, which said "The Little Train that Could". Dave Christianson and Ken Hein did the decals. The South Shore interurban proved to be the most desirable of the interurbans and weren't catalogued.
Maury Klein of K-Line also made a special gold Chicago heavyweight, which said 1991 Chicago. It was a Division fundraiser. The plan was to do one each year and build a tram. There was a 1992 St. Louis car but the 1993 St. Paul color did not match the other two, so the cars were not released and the money was returned to members. This ended the train. These St. Paul cars were found in the K-Line warehouse and Nick Ladd of K-Line made them, as well as the few remaining Chicago and St. Louis cars available to Divisions through National in 1997.
The banquet table car was a K-Line white with black artwork boxcar. The artwork was the convention logo and the skyline of Chicago. The chairmen of this project and the 1977. #9785 Conrail medium blue body and doors over-stamped TCA Museum Express, _August 20, 1977. 108 were made.
1978. #9264 Illinois Central orange quad hopper over-stamped TCA Museum Express, _March 18, 1978. 108 were made.
1979. #9786 Chicago and Northwestern Tuscan boxcar over-stamped TCA Museum_Express, March 17, 1979. 144 were made.
1980. #9289 Chicago and Northwestern N 5C Caboose with two couplers over-stamped_TCA Museum Express, March 8, 1980. 144 were made.
Those helping on this project were: Dave Christiansen, Ken Hem, Skip Tosch, John Nocita, Richard Sherry, Frank Petruzzo, Joe Bak, Earl Roth, Don Scale, Jack Kelly, Dave Ely, and Joe Gurdak, Jr.
1st Banquet 1995 Tuscan Kris Boxcar
2nd Banquet 1996 Tuscan Kris Boxcar
3rd Banquet 1997 Silver with Red Kris Boxcar
4th Banquet 1998 Orange with Black Kris Boxcar
5th Banquet 1999 Red with White Kris Stockcar
6th Banquet 2000 Blue with White and Black Weaver Boxcar
7th Banquet 2001 Gray with White and Black Weaver Boxcar
8th Banquet 2002 Green and Yellow with Black Weaver Tank Car
9th Banquet 2003 Red with Silver Atlas Caboose
10th Banquet 2004 Tan, Beige and Black Weaver Flat Car with Containers
11thBanquet 2005 Silver with Orange Weaver Two-Bay Hopper Car
12thBanquet 2006 Gun Metal Blue Weaver 40 Foot Plug Door Box Car
13thBanquet 2007 Gray with Blue, Yellow, Red and Black Weaver Four Bay Center Flow Covered Hopper Car
14thBanquet 2008 Maroon with Tan Weaver Steel Side Double Door Box Car_15thBanquet 2009
16thBanquet 2010 Weaver Box car
17thBanquet 2011 Box car and Stock cars various colors and road names
Banquet cars 1995-1995 were painted and decorated by John Nocita. Banquet Car 2000 was painted and decorated by Jim Van Duerm. Banquet cars since 2001 have been painted and decorated by Richard Mack.
Two 1995 Banquet cars #0 and #1 were done in 1996 and auctioned at the 1996 Banquet auction.
Since 1996 Banquet cars have been done one for each table and 3 or 4 extra for auction including a reverse color #0. The auctions raise money for Division door prizes for the members.
The 2010 Banquet car was a box car made by Weaver and decorated by Richard Mack.  Frank and Gerry Piazza chaired the banquet with co-chairs Jeff and Beth Marchant.
The 2011 Banquet stock car was unique in that there were different colors, road names and   each car had a QSI sound board in it that when it rolled down the track it would play animal sounds.  There were 15 units available, one for each table, the remainder of the cars were sold at auction.  Since the cars were not painted and decorated to look the same the reverse car was a Union Pacific Box Car that had the sounds of breaking glass.  Frank and Gerry Piazza chaired the banquet with co-chairs Jeff and Beth Marchant.
1 of 15  UP Box Car Breaking Glass                        
2 of 15  NYC Stock Car Lions & Elephants                     
3 of 15  NYC Stock Car Monkeys                     
4 of 15  NYC Stock Car Lions                       
5 of 15  UP Stock Car Cows                    
6 of 15  UP Stock Car Cows                
7 of 15  UP Stock Car Cows & Horses      
8 of 15  WM Stock Car Chickens             
9 of 15  WM Stock Car Turkeys              
10 of 15  WM Stock Car Cows               
11 of 15  PRR Stock Car Turkeys              
12 of 15  PRR Stock Car Cows              
13 of 15  PRR Stock Car Cows               
14 of 15  PRR Stock Car Cows              
15 of 15  PRR Stock Car Cows
The banquet table car was a K-Line white with black artwork boxcar. The artwork was the convention logo and the skyline of Chicago. The chairmen of this project and the banquet were Steve and Leah Holic.
Every adult who attended the convention received a Blinkie Button. They were a smash hit and became famous throughout TCA.
The major convention fundraiser was financed and chaired by Bernie Puralewski. It was a train set consisting of 5 boxcars: Milwaukee Road, Chicago Central and Pacific (CC&P), Davenport Rock Island and Northwestern, Monon, and Illinois Terminal. Also sold were a MP15 K-Line switcher and caboose in Chicago and Northwestern and Soo Line designs. Available for this train only at the convention was the old Chicago Peter Hand Brewery boxcar. The cars were Frank's Roundhouse with Williams molds.
Original artwork for this convention was created by Chicago Sun Times artist John Downs and John Nocita,
Convention Co-Chairs were Chris and Marlene Rohlfing and Bemie Puralewski.
2002 - The national offerings were a Lionel 0-Gauge combo car for the City of Chicago orange and black passenger set (this was the 2nd to the last car in the set); a Marx 0-Gauge green and yellow Chicago and Northwestern stock car; an American models S-Gauge passenger car (the first in the series); a G-Gauge USA trains blue woodside reefer car; and a MTH power station. Jim Van Duerm chaired the convention car committee.
The Division fundraiser was a set (6-52240) of 3 Lionel gondolas in Yellow (6-52237), silver (6-52238), and Red (6-52239), which sold for $75.00 and a 4th black gondola (6-52241), which sold for $25, there were 250 made. These cars were numbered 2002 and fashioned after the original Lionel 1002 and were inspired by the Lionel disappearing layout. Steve Sluka built one for the convention. It was auctioned at the convention banquet. There were 260 sets produced. The Blue (6-52242) #2002 gondola was available for purchase at the convention, there were 250 made. The table car at the banquet was a Lionel gold (6-52272) #2002 gondola donated by Lionel to complete the set. This project was arranged by Steve Holic and then Lionel CEO Dick Maddox. Chris Rohlfing took care of all the orders and shipping. Each TCA member who registered for the convention received 4 specially stamped barrels made by Gary Mack for the gondolas in their convention packet. Extras were also available for purchase. Each person who attended the banquet received a train, a silver Schylling wind-up train decorated with decals. This project was arranged by Frank Piazza. The decals were made by Bill Kane.
The logo and artwork for the convention was created by Anita Werderich.
The chairpersons for the convention were Chris and Marlene Rohlfing and Steve and Leah Holic.
To celebrate and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Midwest Division a special first time ever produced Lionel 6464 Union Pacific Boxcar.
A limited edition of 500 units was sold. This was a one-time offer. The car is numbered 6464-5909 for the 50th Anniversary of Midwest Division TCA. It is lettered at the bottom, Midwest Division TCA 1959-2009. On the side it is lettered "When empty return to MWD". The car is Tuscan red with yellow lettering and red, white and blue UP shield. This major project was chaired by Jeff Marchant.
For 2012 as a fundraiser for the division Bill Kobernus and Ron Miller designed in conjunction with Lionel a PS-1 Chicago & North Western Box car.  The box car was Green and Yellow and was lettered with the now traditional “Return to the Midwest Division when empty”.  Additionally, the interior of the car had a box load and certain boxes had the MWD logo on them.  The car was decorated in typical C&NW logo and had two slogans, “Route of the 400” & “Route of the Streamliners”.  The Lionel stock number was 6-58516 and there were 300 units made.
We can be very proud of the 50 years of Midwest Division TCA. Many great efforts have been made through the years by so many members, many of whom are not mentioned in this article. This article is merely a beginning; if anyone has comments, additions, and/or corrections, please let us know.
Written by.     Chris and Marlene Rohlfing
Assisted by:   Dan Rohlfing, Dave Christiansen, John Nocita, Skip Tosch, Jim VanDuerm, Bernie Puralewski, Steve Holic, William Kaczynski. and Jan Athev. National Museum Librarian, Bill Kobernus & Ron Miller