(WYTV) – No one knows for sure how the tradition of toy trains at Christmas was started, but it dates back more than a century.
It most likely started in the early 1900s, around the time when Lionel began to produce the first electric toy trains.
They were very popular.
Most children were more familiar with trains than cars, so toy train sets were popular Christmas gifts.
You got your train set, it ran in a big oval, so assembling it to run under the Christmas tree was a natural thing to do.
Toy trains were sentimental, and what is Christmas if not sentimental?
This was a time when many people traveled long ways to reach home or to see relatives, and most likely, they went by train.
During the depression years of the 1930s, the Lionel Train company would put together displays and send them to department stores around the country, which would put them in their windows.
The idea was to attract the kids, and the kids would drag the parents into the store to buy the model trains.
Many families added to their toy train set-up year after year, and a simple circular track became more elaborate with multiple tracks and buildings. Soon, you needed to start putting it together around Thanksgiving.