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Athearn HO Scale Model Railroads & Trains

Athearn was founded in 1938 when Irv Athearn built an elaborate O gauge model railroad layout in his mother’s basement. He received impressive responses while selling the layout, and this inspired him to go into the model railroad business. He began selling model train items out of his mother’s house and named the business Athearn Trains in Miniature in 1943.

In 1948, Athearn moved the business to a facility in Hawthorne, California. Irv Athearn continued to operate the business until his death in 1991. Athearn was sold to new owners in 1994, and was purchased by current owners Horizon Hobby in 2004. Horizon Hobby also purchased Model Die Casting, originators of the Roundhouse brand, as well as McHenry Couplers. All trains are now sold under the Athearn name.

In the '40s, Athearn’s first products were metal HO and O scale model railroad kits. Athearn currently sells HO and N scale model trains under the following brands: Genesis HO, Athearn Ready to Roll HO, Athearn N scale, Athearn Precision Die Cast, Roundhouse, and McHenry HO and N scale couplers. These lines offer models at a wide range of quality and prices.

Quick Facts

  • Beginning in 1958, and continuing through the early '60s, Athearn licensed HO model trains for resale by Lionel. These trains were sold as the Lionel HO line
  • Athearn produced most of the model trains sold by Cox from 1971 to 1977
  • Athearn also supplied Atlas with freight cars to be sold with Atlas engines in the late '70s

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