The History of Model Trains

Posted by Richard Adelberg

While many children, and adults, enjoy the thrill of watching model trains ride underneath their Christmas trees, some might not know where this popular hobby got started. 

Let's go back in time and find out how this hobby began in the first place.


In the 1800's railroad tracks were spread throughout the country, breathing life to new towns. 

Toy-makers saw the potential for model trains, and miniature replicas of these giant trains appeared on storekeepers shelves everywhere, especially during the Christmas Season. 

The Beginning

A German company named Marklin created the first train sets in 1891. These trains did not have engines, however, and could be pushed along a track. They were manufactured by pouring molten brass or tin into a mold.  

The American model was created from heavy tin-plate. The locomotive was made during the early 1800's. 

From 1860 to 1890, many American train makers gained notoriety as "the golden age of American tin train making" was established. 

As the 90's rolled around,  several big names in the toy train industry that we know today, emerged. Ives, Lionel and American Flyer made some of the most popular trains in American history.    


After World War II, model trains became more functional and affordable. Some of the biggest brands such as Lionel, Ives and American Flyer still bring smiles to children and adults across the world today. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published