A Brief History of Model Trains

Trains have been marked as a symbol of progress, adventure and exploration for centuries. Beginning with steam locomotives pushing through a bleak countryside to bullet trains speeding through bustling cities, trains have an undeniable allure to people of all ages. 

While trains have a long-standing history, toy trains have also remained a cherished pastime for young children. The growth from small, featureless wooden trains to highly advanced model trains has shown an incredible journey of innovation and a testament to human ingenuity. 

In the late 1800s, a company called Marklin developed the first mass-market model train set. By the early 1950s, model trains were booming in the United States.

It was the introduction of tinplate trains that truly revolutionized the model train industry, making them more affordable and accessible to the wider public. Companies like Marklin and Lionel set the standards early on for a well-crafted, highly detailed model train, and it only continues to evolve. 

In the mid-1900s, scale modeling became increasingly popular among enthusiasts. Hobbyists could choose from tiny N-scale models to large O-scale models, and build their layout exactly how they wanted it to be. Railroading clubs and exhibitions also began around this time, in which hobbyists could form communities and share their passion with one another. 

As the digital age erupted, a new aspect of modeling was developed: DCC. DCC, or digital command control, allows for independent control of multiple locomotives on the same train track. Hobbyists can also adjust speeds, sounds and program automated routes for their layouts. Even more recent developments such as 3D printing and computer modeling have allowed for even greater detail and precision, and thus, more layout creativity and originality. 

At Heartland Hobby, we are proud to be a part of this continuously expansive and dynamic hobby, and we aim to continue to grow along with all the technological advances in store.