Houston Tinplate Operators Society: Model Trains

Updated on April 10, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Houston Tinplate Operators Society and Model Trains in Memorial City Mall of Houston
Houston Tinplate Operators Society and Model Trains in Memorial City Mall of Houston | Source

Model Railroading

The Houston Tinplate Operators Society has a permanent location site within Memorial City Mall, where people can see model trains in action twice-weekly. HTOS is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

On the days when the doors are open to visitors, there is no entrance fee. Donations are always welcome.

We are fortunate to have this site in Houston. There are a few exceptions to this bi-weekly operating schedule. Occasionally, when they are attending other train shows, they might be closed to the public.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The location where the Houston Tinplate Operators Society has their model train layouts.
The location where the Houston Tinplate Operators Society has their model train layouts.
The location where the Houston Tinplate Operators Society has their model train layouts. | Source
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Smiles and Memories

When I was a child, my dad had a model train layout that covered an entire ping pong table. It was in a recreation room in the basement of our home in Wisconsin.

Every year, around the end of the year holidays, we would forego playing ping pong for about a month, and he would put his model train layout on top of the table. To a child's eye, it was fascinating to see the train in action. It was a seasonal treat for all of us to enjoy.

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Houston Tinplate Operators Society model train layouts in Memorial City Mall of HoustonSo many details to see and enjoy!Houston Tinplate Operators Society display in Memorial City MallOne of two window displaysThis tiny park is supposed to represent the miniature train in Hermann Park.
Houston Tinplate Operators Society model train layouts in Memorial City Mall of Houston
Houston Tinplate Operators Society model train layouts in Memorial City Mall of Houston | Source
So many details to see and enjoy!
So many details to see and enjoy! | Source
Houston Tinplate Operators Society display in Memorial City Mall
Houston Tinplate Operators Society display in Memorial City Mall | Source
One of two window displays
One of two window displays | Source
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This tiny park is supposed to represent the miniature train in Hermann Park.
This tiny park is supposed to represent the miniature train in Hermann Park. | Source
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Model Trains

The Houston Tinplate Operators Society began operation in 1988. Model train enthusiasts are invited to join their membership roles. Meetings are held Tuesday evenings at their location in Memorial City Mall. Visitors can also attend those meetings and see the model trains in operation.

What is nice is that owners of model trains can bring them to the mall, have them put on the tracks, and run them through their paces. Getting to view them with all of the many attendant objects such as people standing outside of various places of business, street scenery, signs such as those seen along highways, etc. makes for a great experience. There are so many items to look at that it would be hard to see all the details in just one visit.

Below you can view some photos taken by me as well as a short video of one of the smaller permanent displays.

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Model train layout in Memorial City MallSome of the items you can see at the Houston Tinplate Operators Society location in Memorial City Mall.Buildings in this model train layout
Model train layout in Memorial City Mall
Model train layout in Memorial City Mall | Source
Some of the items you can see at the Houston Tinplate Operators Society location in Memorial City Mall.
Some of the items you can see at the Houston Tinplate Operators Society location in Memorial City Mall. | Source
Buildings in this model train layout
Buildings in this model train layout | Source
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Seasonal Window Layouts

At different times of the year, the Houston Tinplate Operators Society puts seasonal train layouts on display. That display is right by one of the windows, so mall walkers can look in and easily see it. It was around Halloween when my husband and I first entered their suite 617 when it was open for visitors.

For those familiar with the stores in Memorial City Mall, suite 617 is off of a hallway near the Target store. It was fun to view all the imaginative decorations such as the spooky graveyard, pumpkins, witches, bats, skeletons, ghosts, and more.

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Halloween displaySpooky graveyardHalloween displayHalloween displayHalloween displayHalloween display
Halloween display
Halloween display | Source
Spooky graveyard
Spooky graveyard | Source
Halloween display
Halloween display | Source
Halloween display
Halloween display | Source
Halloween display
Halloween display | Source
Halloween display
Halloween display | Source

Tourist Attractions for Train Enthusiasts

One of the smallest tracks within the most significant model train display is supposed to remind people of the miniature train ride in Hermann Park. I have been on that train in Hermann Park as a passenger as well as straddling a 1/8th scale miniature train going through parts of Zube Park. For tourists as well as residents in our Houston metro area who are miniature or model train enthusiasts, these are sites to see and enjoy.

If you are a full-sized train enthusiast, be sure to visit these sites. The Galveston Railroad Museum, the Rosenberg Railroad Museum, and even the small but informative MKT Railroad Museum in Katy, Texas, is well worth a visit.

Put Memorial City Mall on your list of places to visit to see these three elaborate O-gauge and the one S-gauge model train layout in action. The Houston Tinplate Operators Society members are there to greet you, talk about the trains, or even help you with your models if you so desire.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      I don't think that I have ever seen a model train that has smoke from an engine car. Too bad your brother's train became inoperable.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      We have seen prices of those cars and all the accouterments that go into the building of a model train set. It would assuredly add up!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Diana,

      Like your dad, I think that mine also had more fun with the train set than we did. Haha!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

      This is a really nice setup in one of our major malls. Many people can view these model trains and talk to experts regarding that subject.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      My brother used to have a model train with smoke. He didn’t build it out extensively because “someone” added too much smoke and it would not run. The displays above are inspiring, creative and full of imagination.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't have a hobby, but this is a hobby I've always wanted to have. I'm afraid I would spend far too much money on this if I started it.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      My dad also liked his model train layout. It is nice that you get to share those outings with your grandson.

    • Dianadee profile image

      Diana Carol Abrahamson 

      4 months ago from Somerset West

      Great article. My Dad bought us a Hornby train set when we were about seven years old. He enjoyed it more then we did!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I have always thought these type of trains to be very interesting and fun to see them run. It is nice that Houston has a place like these, especially for the children.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      My Dad would have loved this. He had a layout that he was working on in the loft. It was always a work in progress though and was never completed. Our grandson was fascinated by seasonal train layouts in a garden centre we visited in December.

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