Christmas Train

A wise twitter friend of mine suggested that this Christmas, we remember and honor the past, and in future Christmases we work on establishing new traditions.

Reflecting on holiday traditions made me think – what are some of my oldest holiday traditions? And I remembered the Christmas tree train. Dad and mom gave me one when I was 5, I think. Mom thinks that it was a Lionel, and from the very poor quality scanned slide image below, it appears to be O gauge (1:48).

1968 Lionel Train

We set that train up under the tree every Christmas we were at home. I have pictures home from college on Christmas break where I can see a hint of train tracks under the tree. I remember being fascinated by the mechanism but hating the assembly; the sharp metal tracks hurt our fingers.

We no longer have it. I’m not sure what happened to it. It probably got yard-saled for $30. The sentimental value would be the greatest part of still having it, but the dollar value of similar sets on eBay seem to be in the $500 range today!

Both boys, especially Zach, assured me they found it interesting for the hobby’s sake and would value such a piece passed down to them. I was unsure whether to try to find a vintage set, or find a new one. Since I’m not particularly mechanically inclined, I went with new. My enterprising brother-in-law Andy took me out looking at new model train sets locally. We went to North End Train Center and Seattle’s Train Center.

So, for my Christmas present to myself this year, I ended up getting a really fun S-gauge (1:64) Gilbert American Flyer set from Seattle’s Train Center – and added on an Alaska tanker car, in honor of our family’s history. The boys set it up under the tree last night and we’ve had fun playing with it; surprisingly, the kitten finds it only marginally fascinating. (This is good!)

Gilbert American Flyer
American Flyer Trainset Under Christmas Tree
American Flyer Engine 21157
American Flyer Alaska Railroad Car 45412

I’m looking forward to using it – more often than Christmas! – for many years to come.

Note: the really excellently composed pictures – the last two – are courtesy of Zach.

2 Responses to “Christmas Train”

  1. Tania Says:

    How wonderful, and I love trains, I still have mine from the late 70s, a bunch of Lionels.

  2. Shawn Powers Says:

    Zach really is a good photographer. Love the focus on Alaska. :)