Joshua Lionel Cowen and Harry C. Grant founded the Lionel Corporation in 1900 in New York City. In the beginning, the company focused on electrical devices, such as fans, low-voltage motors, fuses, and electrical novelties. Joshua Lionel Cowen created a window display with a train running around a track, in order to demonstrate an electrical motor he placed in the engine.

What were the first Lionel trains?

The Electric Express was the first model train that Joshua Lionel Cohen produced in 1900 for his storefront display. The first Lionel trains were larger than the standard trains of the day, running on three rail tracks with the outer rails spaced 2 7/8 inches apart. In 1906, Lionel engines and cars were being manufactured for tracks that were 2 1/8 inches apart, which was the standard gauge of that time. These trains included the No. 5 and No. 6 steam engines, as well as the No. 8 and No. 9 trolley cars. Some of the Lionel trains had a red cow catcher, whle others came with electric lamps in the front. In 1915, he began making trains that were a smaller O gauge.

What size are Lionel trains?

Lionel trains come in HO Gauge, O Gauge, S Gauge, and G Gauge sizes. Gauge refers to the distance between the outside rails of the track, both in real trains and toy trains like Lionel.

  • HO Gauge - HO Gauge is 1:87 scale and is 16.5 mm between the rails. HO Gauge is the most commonly used model locomotive size.
  • O Gauge - O Gauge is 1:48 scale and measures 1-1/4 inches between the outer rails.
  • S Gauge - S Gauge is 1:64 scale, is 7/8" between the rails, and is narrower than O Gauge.
  • G Gauge - G Gauge is 1:24 scale, is 45mm between the rails, and is wider than O Gauge.
Are Lionel trains and locomotives meant for children?

Lionel makes train sets that are especially designed for young children, such as the Imagineering sets for pre-school age children, which are non-powered locomotives that children can push and pull. Some of the themes for the Imagineering Lionel train sets are Batman, Crayola and John Deere. Older children can also play easily with many of the standard Lionel train sets.

The Lionel Ready-to-Play trains and engines are large sized trains that are suitable for both kids and adults. The locomotives and cars are made of plastic, and the locomotives are powered by batteries. The trains are controlled by a handheld remote control and have connectable plastic tracks. Some of the themes for the Ready-to-Play trains are John Deere, Thomas and Friends, and Crayola.

What are some of the sets of Lionel trains?

Lionel has produced many series of Lionel trains over the years. These sets come in various gauges and are representative of Lionel's most popular designs, including sets and engines styled on legacy trains from years past. Some of the available trains are:

  • Harry Potter
  • Pennsylvania Flyer
  • Snoopy
  • Coca-Cola
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Polar Express
  • American Flyer
  • Legacy Diesel
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