Way Back When ... 1900
This photograph shows a train coming into the Fairfield station circa 1900. It was at this same time, just around the turn of the century, that the first electric toy trains were being made. Although wooden and metal toy and replica trains had existed ever since the advent of “real” trains during the Industrial Revolution, it was in 1901 when Lionel made the first electric train. The electric Lionel train was used in store display windows to draw attention to the toys being sold, but people were so entranced by them that the trains themselves became some of the most sought-after gifts during the holiday season. Over the next few decades, model trains became a must-have toy, and people started putting them under their trees during the holidays. According to the National Toy Train Museum, Model Railroader magazine began in 1934, and by the 1950s “seemingly every boy had a train set.”
Model trains are still beloved by many and are a quintessential symbol of the holiday season. The Fairfield Museum’s Holiday Express Train Show, which opens Friday, Dec. 6 and closes on Sunday, Jan. 5, features a wide variety of trains in delightful, snowy landscapes. Thanks to the Connecticut G-Scalers Club, the Housatonic Model Railroad Club and the Central Connecticut G-Gaugers, this is the 14th year that the train show will come to life in Fairfield. Brody Wilkinson, PC, and People’s United Bank are generously sponsoring the exhibition.
Opening Night is Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. (the same night as the Town Tree Lighting) with special admission pricing, cider, cookies, and crafts. Hours vary for the rest of the month, and the full schedule, along with programs related to the show, can be found at Fairfieldhistory.org.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.