How Long Can I Count On Fix-A-Flat To Last Historic Facts About Lionel Trains

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Historic Facts About Lionel Trains

When manufacturers began making toy trains more than 100 years ago, they could not have known how popular these toys would become or how they would become a lifelong hobby and obsession for many people. Joshua Lionel Cowen certainly had no idea when he first put a small engine on a flat car model in 1901 that his name would soon become and remain a household name for millions of people generation after generation. Nor could he have known that Lionel model trains would become one of the biggest names in miniature railways in the world.

Ironically, the first Lionel train, which was known simply as the “electric express”, was not designed as a toy, but simply as an animated display to attract people’s attention. It certainly did and inquiries started pouring in from people wanting to buy this amazing little railway as a gift for their children.

Over the years, the popularity of Lionel’s model trains would wax and wane, the company would change hands many times, but this toy would never completely disappear from American culture. Today, there are over 50 million railroad sets sold and over 300 miles of track are produced annually.

The Rise of Lionel Trains

The popularity of model train building in general and Lionel trains in particular is based on the romance of American culture. Railroads were the first symbol of modern transportation, and people looked at real locomotives running down the tracks with their long line of cars and imagined what it would be like to climb aboard and be whisked away to a new and different place. Later, as real railroads began to disappear, miniature railroads would become a part of America’s romantic history, much like the old west and mountain men of old.

One of the things that made Lionel model trains so sought after was the quality of their construction and the fine attention to detail that went into every locomotive, every car and every building, person and piece of track. They all looked so real that people began to perceive themselves as conductors, owners and tycoons of their own railways. It became a lifelong hobby that often began when a child discovered the first small model Lionel train moving under the tree on Christmas morning. A treasured toy that over the years will become a hobby that will be shared and passed down from generation to generation.

Clubs would be formed and as more and more people would share an interest in building model railways, lively competitions would arise to see who could build the most realistic and largest toy railway empire. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons in hobby shops every Saturday looking for the latest locomotive or other building, tree or lamp post to add to their growing railroads.

Today, grown men are the primary purchasers of miniature railroad tracks, cars and accessories, as they have rediscovered the joys of model railroad building enjoyed by their grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Model trains have become part of our heritage and Lionel model trains continue to lead the way in locomotive, rolling stock and track quality.

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