Electric Trains

Written by Diane Sievert
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Electric trains are truly an engineering feat of stunning magnitude. Some of these miniature trains are so beautifully crafted, it can bring a tear to the eye of expert modelers and engineers. And this is no new hobby--electric trains have been around and impressing train enthusiasts for quite some time.

A History of Electric Trains

Electric trains were invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen, the eventual founder of America's older model train company, Lionel Trains. Cowen's first miniature train was whittled from a piece of wood when he was only seven years old. When he tried to fit it with a tiny steam engine, however, the train exploded and Cowen took a break from his interest in trains.

Several years later, Cowen revisited his obsession with trains. This time he fitted the underside of a railroad flatcar model with a small motor. This was the invention of the miniature electric train, a toy he titled with his middle name and sold for six dollars.

By 1910, Cowen's electric trains had become big business. He was making all kinds of trains and cars. Eventually the toy would catch hold and other companies would develop, making electric trains one of America's most beloved pastimes.

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