CA -- Sacramento -- California State Railroad Museum -- Model Trains exhibit:
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SRRMMT_140718_08.JPG: Charting the Future of Toy Trains in Postwar America:
World War II represents a turning point in the history of toy trains. Even before America entered the conflict in 1941, Lionel had discontinued Standard gauge to focus on realistic O gauge. Then came a federal prohibition on using "strategic materials" for playthings. Lionel stayed alive by making precision instruments for the military. Its only wartime train was a cardboard set that people struggled to assemble.
After the war ended in 1945, pent-up demand for O gauge trains and their smaller S gauge cousins burst forth. Lionel responded with improved trains, introducing smoking locomotives, plastic rolling stock, and remote-controlled freight loaders. Corporate advertising promoted trains as vital to a boy's development and his family's happiness.
This booking market encouraged other firms to challenge Lionel's supremacy. The AC Gilbert Company, after acquiring American Flyer's O gauge line, converted those models to two-rail S gauge. Marx made inexpensive trains for families on tight budgets. Railroad remained central to American life, and everyone wanted a toy version.
SRRMMT_140718_12.JPG: The Golden Age of Toy Trains and Beyond:
Never before or since the 1950s has an electric train been so central a part of childhood. No other toy seemed as exciting and sophisticated. More than a Davy Crockett coonskin cap or Ted Williams baseball glove, boys hoped that Santa -- or Mom and Pop -- would bring them a train. No wonder that sales at Lionel, Gilbert, and other firms rose steadily, and manufacturers competed to develop better train sets and more animated accessories.
Lionel, once insistent on bringing out the most accurate models, changed direction and created trains that balanced realism with whimsy. Its Santa Fe F3 diesel epitomized the shift. Improvements in plastics molding and paint masking enabled Lionel to design attractive models of up-to-date locomotives and cars. American Flyer kept pace with its scale, detailed passenger and freight trains.
Times -- and kids -- changed, and by the 1960s youngsters wanted different toys. They preferred spaceships, jet planes, and slot (racing) cars. Electric trains seemed hopelessly slow and dated. AC Gilbert went out of business, and Lionel struggled to hand on. The golden age of toy trains had ended, and few observers would ever have predicted a revival.
SRRMMT_140718_17.JPG: The Revival of Toy Trains:
How did toy trains make a comeback in the 1980s? Thank the "kids" -- now middle-aged baby boomers with families of their own -- who recalled playing with Lionel and American Flyer sets decades before. They realized that trains from the golden years of the late 1940s and '50s could be purchased at flea markets, yard sales, and train shows. Even the pre-World War II models were available. The "kids" wanted them all.
The rush for electric trains was on, and it has not let up. Collectors initially concentrated on what Lionel at its rivals had produced in the past. They searched for Standard gauge locomotives, prewar O gauge streamliners, and postwar sets and accessories. Many collectors were content to display their finds; others built extensive layouts to run their toy trains.
Enthusiasts were also paying attention to the new Lionel models being produced by General Mills, which obtained the rights to produce those trains. O gauge still thrived, with high-quality replicas of contemporary diesels and freight cars. Improved motors and superior decoration made the new trains as appealing as the old.
SRRMMT_140718_22.JPG: Toy Trains in the 21st Century:
The world of toy trains has not stopped growing since families rediscovered the hobby in the 1980s. Lionel, now under different owners, offers models geared towards the most sophisticated collectors to the youngest children. Besides traditional O gauge lines, it offers new S gauge and Standard gauge sets. Computer chips enhance the sound and control systems on those models.
Other firms, such as Atlas O, K-Line, MTH, Weaver, and Williams, take pride in the state-of-the-art O gauge locomotives, cars, and accessories they have introduced. So many excellent products have come out that increasing numbers of people are building layouts. S gauge has also stayed vibrant, thanks to new trains from American Models and S-Helper Service.
Children haven't been left behind. Lego, whose construction toys revolutionized the field, makes its own electric trains. Models of Thomas the Tank Engine attract many kids, as do the wood trains that Brio markets. Tots delight in pushing and pulling those models, as they might have done long ago.
Toy trains continue to bring pleasure to everyone, regardless of age.
SRRMMT_140718_51.JPG: The Early Years:
The European and American trains in this case shown how craftsmen and manufacturers created detailed and colorful replicas of the full-sized locomotives and cars operating in their respective countries. During the 1880s and 1890s, advances in tinplating thin sheets of stamped steel and more sophisticated paint lithography decorating techniques helped firms such as Bing, Georges Carette, Issmayer, and Marklin in Germany and George Brown and Ives in the United States, develop more durable and appealing trains.
Leading the way in the United States was Carlisle & Finch. This company's unique 1897 mining train was the very first electric toy train built in America. Ives, meanwhile, developed windup trains to appeal to a different market. These two firms were joined in the first decades of the twentieth century by toy train newcomers Elektoy, Howard, Knapp, and Voltamp.
Of course, when Americans think about electric toy trains today, the first name that comes to mind is Lionel. Beginning in 1901, this giant of the industry released its first toy locomotives, freight cars, and trolleys. Within a decade, Lionel was challenging Ives and Carlisle & Finch for supremacy in the toy train marketplace.
SRRMMT_140718_54.JPG: Electrical Novelties:
The 1910s were a time of great opportunity for American toy train manufacturers to capture the market. Although World War I removed German rivals from the market, competition at home grew heated. The leading firms introduced electrically powered trains and expanded their lines by introducing toys in both larger and smaller gauges.
Ives hoped to overtake Lionel. In addition to O gauge (1-1/4 inches between the outer rails), Ives manufactured No. 1 gauge trains that were larger than O gauge but smaller than Lionel Standard gauge. While Carlisle & Finch, Elektoy, and Howard were quitting the market, Lionel pushed forward with additional Standard and new O gauge trains. Like Ives, it used annual catalogs and magazine advertising to promote its electric trains.
Voltamp, little known today, can take credit for making the most beautiful and realistic toy trains in the United States during the 1910s. This Baltimore maker of what were then known as "electrical novelties" crafted detailed trolleys, locomotives, and passenger cars.
SRRMMT_140718_56.JPG: American Domination:
American toy train manufacturers continued to dominate the market after World War I. Lionel, reigning supreme, watched German companies struggle to revive their reputations. Ives, meanwhile, pushed its Wide gauge line hoping to win back customers smitten with Standard gauge.
By the middle of the 1920s, Lionel was king of the toy train market. Ives labored to keep up, making sure its Wide gauge trains matched those produced by Lionel with sleek designs and intricate details. Nevertheless, while its passenger toy train sets have become classics, Ives declared bankruptcy before the decade had ended.
Lionel had other rivals as well. American Flyer, established in Chicago in 1906, began issuing superb electric Wide and O gauge toy trains in the 1920s. It introduced trains celebrated for their attractive paint schemes and evocative names (President's Special, Mayflower, Pocahontas, and Flying Colonel). A newcomer named Dorfan entered the market too, enhancing the era with its strikingly lithographed Wide and O gauge rolling stock and cast metal engines.
SRRMMT_140718_59.JPG: Empire Builders:
Nineteenth-century German toy train manufacturers pioneered the concept of offering an entire railroad system in miniature. In addition to passenger trains and freight trains they produced magnificent stations, tunnels, street lamps, signals, bridges, and human and animal figures. By offering so many ancillary items, these companies knew that children were certain to request additions to their toy train layouts year after year.
Likewise Lionel, American Flyer, and Ives exploited this marketing strategy to enhance sales in the early twentieth century. Their catalogs announced a spectacular array of accessories that have become classics in their own right: grand stations, colorful semaphores, and graceful bridges. Their sturdy construction, warm colors, and delightful miniature size are hallmarks of the many items produced.
Youngsters in the 1910s and '20s also loved the stamped-steel terminals and papier-mache tunnels. With these accessories, a realistic miniature version of the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad or the New York Central Railroad was building a toy train empire at home would help their sons become enterprising, hard-working businessmen later in life.
SRRMMT_140718_75.JPG: As long as there have been railroads, there have been toy trains.
Children began pushing and pulling miniature locomotives and cars made of cast iron or wood in the 1830s. Before the end of the nineteenth century, they were playing with tinplated trains that operated on battery power or electric current.
Beginning in the early twentieth century, ornate stamped steel toy trains painted in bright colors captivated youngsters in Europe and North America. Some of the finest examples of those early electric toy trains, along with accessories such as stations, signals, tunnels and bridges fill this exhibit.
It may surprise you that children are not the only ones who enjoy the pleasures of miniature railroads. For the last 50 years, many of the toys you will see in this exhibit belonged not to a child, but to Thomas W. Sefton, a collector of Americana ranging from toy trains to Southwestern art to Laurel & Hardy movie memorabilia.
Model makers and amateur artists have used miniature electric trains for over 75 years to craft exacting replicas of freight yards, oil fields, farms and neighborhoods. Other enthusiasts have sought out vintage miniature trains and studied the history behind them. Together, these people developed the hobby we know as scale model railroading.
As you experience the small wonders that make up this exhibit, you will have an opportunity to learn about the central place railroading inhabits in American life, and join the ranks of those who delight in the color, craftsmanship, movement and fun of toy and model railroads.
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Wikipedia Description: California State Railroad Museum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The California State Railroad Museum is a museum in the state park system of California, USA, interpreting the role of the "iron horse" in connecting California to the rest of the nation. It is located in Old Sacramento at 111 I Street.
The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some dating back to 1862. The "Sierra Scene" shows a large scale mockup of a construction scene high in the Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass circa 1867, featuring the locomotive Gov. Stanford. Other exhibits show how the influence of railroads changed American society, influencing travel, commerce and daily life, as well as the lives of railroaders and the diversity of people who work on railroads. Changing exhibits featuring photography, ephemera, and artifacts from the museum's collection, add depth and incidental information to the overall story of railroad history. The Museum has an extensive educational program for elementary students from across the region to help them learn about railroad history using re-enactments, costumed docents, and including train and handcar rides.
Adjacent to the main museum building is a reconstruction of the 1870s-era Central Pacific Railroad passenger station and freight depot on Front Street, which houses historic and contemporary railroad equipment. In early 2011, the interior remained closed to public use, but is occasionally open for special events. During the summer, the Sacramento Southern Railroad, operated by the museum, takes passengers on a 40-minute, 6-mile (9.7 km) roundtrip route along the Sacramento River on a portion of the Walnut Grove branch of the former Southern Pacific Railroad. The Sacramento Southern Railroad owns the Walnut Grove Branch right-of-way that extends south from Sacramento along the eastern bank of the Sacramento River. A few miles of track were rebuilt along the levee near Freeport, California as part of a US Army Corps of Engineers project. The CSRRM hopes to one day have a longer excursion line, perhaps as far as Hood, California. At that location the railroad passengers could disembark the train and take a tourist steamboat back up the Sacramento River to Old Sacramento.
The museum has its origins in 1937, when a group of railroad enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. This organization worked for years to promote the idea of a railroad museum, donating 30 historic locomotives and cars to the California Department of Parks and Recreation to be the nucleus of a State-operated museum in Sacramento. The Museum's first facility, the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station, opened in 1976. The Railroad History Museum was completed in 1981. Steam-powered passenger train service on the Sacramento Southern Railroad began in 1984, with the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot opening three years later. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown was added to the Museum complex during 1992.
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