For many collectors, going to railroadiana shows is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby. Shows provide a chance to see and buy a lot of stuff in one place as well as the opportunity to meet and socialize with other collectors. In fact, for those just beginning to collect, there is no better way to learn about railroadiana. This especially applies to prices and getting a "feel" for the market. There may be other ways to acquire items for a collection -- flea markets, antique shows, and the increasingly popular internet auctions, for example -- but railroadiana shows provide a more knowledgeable group of sellers and the opportunity to acquire "word of mouth" knowledge from others.

There are a number of railroadiana shows across the country. Some, such as the Gaithersburg, Maryland show held every November and the St. Charles, Illinois show held every June, are truly national events that draw attendees from all over the country and that are exclusively limited to railroad memorabilia. Other shows are more regional in nature and usually include all types of collectibles, including items of interest to model railroaders and toy train collectors. Though smaller, regional shows can offer great opportunities for finding railroadiana. They tend to emphasize items from railroads that operated in that part of the country and are more likely to have a wide range of professional dealers and nonprofessional hobbyists who are just "thinning" things from their collections.