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Magic of Toy Trains

Magic of Toy Trains is America's Most Comprehensive Toy Train Exhibit.
“Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains”
at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento State Historic Park is called  "America's Most Comprehensive Toy Train Exhibit." 

The exhibit features some 1,000 vintage toy trains, six interactive displays, and a magnificent operating toy train layout of 3,300 square feet.

It introduces museum guests to the magic of toy trains and the joys of collecting, and helps illustrate the place of toy trains and scale models in American popular culture.

"Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains"  is organized into
six specific themes:

Exhibit Introduction – Here, guests learn that toy trains are part of our culture and our heritage, and that they are an art form.

Collector’s Attic – In this portion of the new exhibit, guests explore why people collect items, how world class collectors, like Thomas W. Sefton, went about collecting, and how scarcity and other object criteria impact the value of a collection.

Toy Trains 101 – Think of this as your "introduction to toy trains." You'll learn how early “primitive” toy trains evolved from pull and push toys, into wind-ups, friction-powered toys, live steam, and electric toy trains, and how developing technology added color, movement, and light.

Lionel City – Here, the toy trains of the 1920s and 1930s are highlighted as the “pinnacle” of toy trains as art. Guests also examine how packaging and marketing methods reflected the changing cultural and social outlook of Americans.

Operating Layout – Here, visitors learn how toy trains operate, and experience the thrill of lights, color and motion as trains whiz by classically styled train stations, human figures, and other accessories.

Toy Trains for Everyone – Learn how scale model trains—the basis for most of today’s “model railroads”—developed as part of the toy train phenomenon, and how toy trains have affected our shared culture in America today.


"Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains" is a permanent exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.