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Model Train Categories
Lionel Model Railroads & Trains
Model Train Categories
One of the most recognized brands in the model railroad hobby is Lionel. This company manufactures model railroad products in O gauge and is famous for its specialty model railroad sets sold at Christmas time. Lionel has built a following of model railroad enthusiasts who build their collections strictly out of Lionel stock.
Joshua Lionel Cowen founded the Lionel company in 1900. He designed his first electric model train, The Electric Express, in 1901 as a window display for toy stores. By 1906, Lionel offered a selection of engines and cars as well as preassembled track. Lionel used three-rail standard-gauge track designed to eliminate circuits. They began manufacturing model trains in O gauge in 1915, and this size eventually replaced the standard-gauge trains. Lionel discontinued the manufacture of standard gauge in 1939.
Lionel's popularity grew after World War II, and they reached their peak of production in the '50s. This era included the release of Lionel's greatest steam locomotive, the No. 746 Norfolk and Western. Lionel's popularity declined in the '60s, and the company was sold to General Mills in 1969. General Mills revived Lionel model trains in the '70s, and the company has survived several changes in ownership since. Lionel model trains for sale at auction continue to draw great interest from collectors and enthusiasts all over the world.
Lionel's first model trains were powered by wet cell batteries. These batteries were filled with acid and dangerous. The company soon replaced the batteries with 110-volt transformers
The 2004 Polar Express train set, designed to commemorate the movie "The Polar Express," is one of Lionel's best-selling model train sets of all time
In 2016, a standard-gauge Lionel train set from 1934 sold at auction for $250,000. The set included a 400E engine and state passenger cars, all in mint condition in the original box
In recent years, Lionel has moved production of some limited edition lines back to the United States. Lionel trains corporate headquarters are now located in Concord, North Carolina.