Interested in collecting trains? Here are some books to get you started. To collect model trains, there are a few things to know: the gauge and the era of train you would like to concentrate on. Model train production eras are as follows:
No train collection is complete without the Greenberg's Guides. If you are new to the hobby, start with these books first.
Greenberg's Guide to Lionel Trains 1970-1991
Greenberg's Guide to Lionel Trains 1945-1969
Visit Kalmbach Books for many additional books on model railroad collecting and operating.
ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY (AT&SF)
KANSAS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY 6425 SW 6th Street Topeka, Kansas 66615 (785) 272-8681 Connie Menninger, documents Darrell Garwood, photographs Santa Fe donated thousands of photographs and hundreds of thousands of documents to this organization, including maps, station diagrams, printed materials and a collection of bound issues of Santa Fe Magazine.
CALIFORNIA STATE RAILROAD MUSEUM LIBRARY Big Four Building 111 "I" Street Sacramento, California 95814 (916)323-8073 Ellen Halteman, librarian Santa Fe donated a boxcar filled with rolling stock (passenger and freight car) diagrams and related materials to the library, along with other assorted documents and materials. The library has Santa Fe employee timetables covering California operations from the turn of the century forward on microfilm. There is also a substantial volume of other Santa Fe material the library has acquired.
SANTA FE RAILWAY HISTORICAL AND MODELING SOCIETY, INC. 9847 Spring Hill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 This organization produces a quarterly magazine about Santa Fe Railway subjects. Much of the organization's substantial library was donated by Santa Fe Railway. The Society also publishes books on Santa Fe Railway subjects and holds an annual convention. Many of its members are historians who have published books on various Santa Fe Railway subjects.
BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD (BN)
MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 345 Kellogg Boulevard West St. Paul, Minnesota 55102-1906 (612)296-6126 Dennis E. Meissner, manuscripts supervisor Collection of Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway records, photographs, maps, diagrams and drawings. The collection also includes records from GN and NP affiliates such as steamship lines, hotels and land companies. The bulk of this material was donated following the 1970 merger that created Burlington Northern from GN, NP, SP&S and CB&Q.
JAMES J. HILL REFERENCE LIBRARY Fourth and Market Street St. Paul, Minnesota 55101 (612)227-9531 Collection of personal and business related material from James J. Hill. the legendary "Empire Builder." This collection contains letters, documents and photographs relating to the Great Northern Railway, and Hill's interest and involvement in the development of the Pacific Northwest.
MONTANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 225 North Roberts Street Helena, Montana 59620 (406)444-2694 The Montana Historical Society has a large collection of material on the state's railroads. The material includes operating records of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads and their hotels and riverboat companies. The society also has the photographic work of F. J. Haynes, who was the NP's official photographer. A catalog of available books is provided by the museum store by calling (800)243-9900.
MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES Montana State University Bozeman, Montana 59717-0040 (406)994-2251 Steven B. Jackson, curator of art and photographs The museum contains a collection of photographs by Ron Nixon, covering the Northern Pacific Railway between the 1930s and 1960s. This collection of motive power, trains, parks and scenery is considered to be one of the best.
NEWBERRY LIBRARY 60 West Walton Street Chicago, Illinois 60610 (312)255-3511 In April 1943, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company deposited the bulk of its 19th century records (1850-1901) with the Newberry Library. More than one million letters, 1,500 bundles of miscellaneous materials and approximately 2,000 bound volumes of ledgers and operating books comprise the collection. The collection is named the Burlington Special Collections.
NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY 15th and R Street Lincoln, Nebraska 68508 (402)471-3270 Collection of material from the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company and its predecessor companies operating in the state. The collection has material covering the early operation of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad and the later operations of the CB&Q. Records and photographs of land settlement and early farming, taken by Colonization Agent Val Kuska, for CB&Q, are part of this collection.
FRIENDS OF THE BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD P.O. Box 271 West Bend, WI 53095-0271 The Friends of the Burlington Northern Railroad (FOBNR) was formed to gather, preserve and share information about the history of the Burlington Northern Railroad and the history and current operation of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. It follows the BN from 1970 to 1995 and the BNSF from 1995 to the present. Members of the FOBNR receive four issues of The BN Expediter, a 20 page, glossy paper publication containing information and photos of railroad history and current events.
CHICAGO, BURLINGTON & QUINCY RAILROAD (CB&Q)
BURLINGTON ROUTE HISTORICAL SOCIETY P. O. Box 456 LaGrange, IL 60525
GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY (GN)
GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1781 Griffith Berkley, MI 48072
NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY (NP)
NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION 13044 87th Place N.E. Kirkland, WA 98034
SPOKANE, PORTLAND & SEATTLE RAILWAY (SP&S)
SPOKANE, PORTLAND & SEATTLE RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 2618 N.W. 113th Street Vancouver, WA 98685
ST. LOUIS & SAN FRANCISCO RAILWAY (FRISCO)
FRISCO RAILROAD MUSEUM 543 E. Commercial Street Springfield, MO 65803
New to toy trains? One of the most vexing problems is understanding the difference between model train gauge and scale, especially since the terms are incorrectly used much of the time. But it really isn't hard: gauge is the measurement of the distance between the outside rails of your track. Scale is the measurement between the size of the model relative to the prototype train's size. Many of the Pacific Northwest Division members collect O Gauge trains. What does that mean? Well, that means that the train runs on track that measures 1.25" between the outside rails, and that the train is approximately 1/48th of the size of the real world train it represents, or 1:48 scale. There are many different scales and gauges of trains to collect: check here to view some examples. Two measurements are always involved in model trains: scale and gauge. You can't have one without the other!
How different are the scales of trains? Very! Here are some pictures that represent four popular scales of toy trains in use in the United States:
Another important thing to consider is the required track radius for the scale of the engine you are running. O gauge track actually comes in two different sizes: O and O-27. Though both types of track measure 1.25" between the rails, the rails height is 11/16" on O and only 7/16" on O-27. Why? O-27 track was developed to run smaller, lighter engines in limited space, since an entire circle of O-27 track is only 27 inches in diameter (hence the '27' in O-27). Lionel developed the O-27 size track primarily for children's train sets that were sold after the 1930's. Regular O gauge track can range from a 31" diameter to 72" diameter, and is suitable for larger, heavier engines, such as the modern full scale Lionel and MTH engines. The extra track depth and width of radius is necessary to prevent trains from derailing.
So you might ask "why do I hear the term 'O gauge train'?" Technically, there is no such thing. Early train manufacturers used O gauge track, but their trains were not really true scale models, so the designation for these types of trains combined the terms O scale and gauge to indicate that it was a smaller, non-scale O train that ran on the smaller O-27 gauge track. Confusing? Yes! But the use of more accurate scale models did not come about until quite recently with the increasing interest in representative train detail. So can an O-27 scale train run on O gauge track? Yes, but usually O scale trains cannot run on O-27 track.
As with toy trains, there are many differing track manufacturers, some offering custom track that can be tailored for specific layout configurations. How do you choose the right train and track? Well, the track is dependent on the types of trains that you will be running, though some types of trains can run on either O or O-27 track. The second consideration is the amount of space that you can devote to your layout: larger engines take a larger radius to turn, and this will require the larger 42", 54", or 72" track circles.
Buying your first train (or building your first layout) can be daunting to those just starting in the hobby, but one of the best ways to get help is to join a club. In TTOS you will find people that share your interest in trains, collecting, and having fun running your new pride and joy!