The Train Collectors Association (TCA) was founded in Yardley, PA in 1954. The same year collectors on the West Coast met and organized the Western Division. The result of these two meetings was the formation of the Train Collectors Association. The mission of the association is to develop an appreciation of and to preserve an important segment of history- Tinplate Toy Trains- through research, education, community outreach, fellowship, establishment of collecting standards, and to promote the growth and enjoyment of collecting and operating toy and model electric trains.
TCA is incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the statutes of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is registered as a tax-exempt non-profit under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The national headquarters and museum building in Strasburg, PA was built in 1977 and has since been expanded. The worldwide organization has tens of thousands of members in 20 Divisions with 20 Chapters. The Northern California Division is better known as Nor-Cal Division. Nor-Cal encompasses northern California and northern Nevada.
Each year there is a national convention that is usually held in late June. The location changes every year. Each convention includes fellowship opportunities, tours, education, buying and selling trains, and a Saturday evening banquet.
The Association publishes The Train Collectors Quarterly magazine four times per year. The Quarterly contains many interesting and informative articles regarding toy and model trains. Subscription to the Quarterly is included with annual TCA membership dues.
The Nor-Cal Division was established in 1957, the third division to be created within TCA. In order to be a member of Nor-Cal or any other division you must first establish membership with national TCA. Nor-Cal has monthly meetings. Presently most meetings are held in the Veterans Memorial Building in Lafayette CA.
The March meet, which is the largest Nor-Cal meet, is the Nor-Cal Train Show, previously know as Nor-Cal Cal-Stewart. As of 2020 Nor-Cal Train Show is held at the Elks Lodge in Walnut Creek CA. Annual Nor-Cal membership dues include admission to Nor-Cal Train Show.
The May meet is held in Sacramento and is hosted by the Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of Nor-Cal.
The December meet is the annual holiday party where a catered lunch is provided to Division members and immediate family.
Nor-Cal publishes the Nor-Cal Express quarterly, containing Division news and information.
The first Spring Cal-Stewart meet was held in March 1974 at the Edgewater Hyatt in Oakland. There is also a Fall Cal-Stewart meet hosted by the Southwest Division of the Toy Train Operating Society (TTOS), held in Southern California. These meets were started as a result of the leadership and untiring efforts of Don Stewart, Nor-Cal member. Don was able to organize cooperative semi-annual meets with TCA and TTOS. The first meet had just started when Don tragically died in an auto accident. Because of Don's extraordinary efforts and untimely death, both events were named in his honor.