Creative, fun, historic, nostalgic...these are a just a few of the words to describe the fascinating hobby of collecting your own toy or model trains and designing the villages that compliment them. Let's take a step back in time and explore the beginnings of the model train. Did you know their manufacture began in the Victorian period? Did you also know that, originally these trains were made in Germany? Their immediate popularity was a natural consequence of actual trains becoming a fashionable form of transportation. In fact, the first toy trains were, in reality, promotional tools. "Carpet railways" (the first model trains) were made in 1840. There have been many innovations since that time, though those early trains are certainly collectibles and very valuable. These trains actually had "boilers" that produced steam and powered the train. Since that time there have been many, many exciting developments in hobby trains. For instance, the early trains did not even run on a track nor were they made to scale. Now, not only do they run on tracks but they have standard gauges and they have been made entirely to scale. The company that led the way in standardizing the tracks was Marklin Company. This innovation allowed a large variety of trains to run on a track. These first gauges were designated "one, two, three". This great achievement was followed by the creation of the "O" gauge. This opened up the door for great expansion, not only for the manufacture of trains, but in terms of different accessories as well. With the advanced technology that the 20th century afforded the evolution of hobby trains took off. Marklin introduced ranges and scales which would change the world of toy trains forever. This innovation spread to Great Britain and Germany like wildfire. Though the impetus of toy trains was actually a promotional tool for salesmen, the popularity of this hobby grew even as trains as a transportation diminished. The technology of the 20th century generated the development of remote controls for signs and lighting, signal switches and even train operators. In addition, both N and Z gauges (for smaller trains) were introduced as well as the G gauge for larger scales. Today, you can even get software to help you design your layout. Now there is computerized technology that sets your train on a certain course and let's off steam or make train sounds which all add to your enjoyment. There have been a plethora of changes over the years, this is just a glimpse. You may wonder why hobby trains are as popular, or more, than ever. Well there are many reasons: a person may have an interest in the history of trains themselves, they may enjoy creating the environment around the trains themselves, or they may just like going down memory lane to their childhood. But one reason is universal...it's just plain fun!