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Toy Train Month Returns with Rare “Lady Lionel” Train Set Debut

BSB_2528 © 2017, California State Parks. Photo by Brian Baer

Once again, California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation will recognize August as Toy Train Month, an annual celebration that focuses on the popular Thomas W. Sefton Gallery and “Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains” exhibit.

Coinciding with Toy Train Month, the Railroad Museum will debut a prized pastel-colored No. 1587S “027” “Lady Lionel” Train Set. Originally manufactured in 1957 – and, at the time, considered to be the biggest flop in Lionel’s history – the boxed set includes five freight cars, a steam locomotive and tender along with five pieces of straight track, eight curved track, a transformer and an uncoupling section.

In an attempt to branch out to new audiences, Lionel boldly debuted the pastel-colored train set to try to appeal to young girls at a time when toys didn’t typically cross gender lines — e.g. Barbie dolls and tea sets were for girls while chemistry and train sets were for boys. Only about 5,000 of these train sets were produced by Lionel and are now considered a prized acquisition among collectors.

The “Lady Lionel” Train Set joins the Museum’s extensive and internationally recognized toy train collection that was donated by the Sefton family in 2002. Accumulated over four decades by the late Mr. Thomas W. Sefton, the collection includes 20th century toy trains, Buddy “L” riding toys, and railroad-related artifacts, featuring approximately 7,000 toy trains and a variety of accessories, such as locomotives and railroad cars from companies including Buddy “L,” Ives, American Flyer, Marklin, Marx, and Lionel.

The “Small Wonders” exhibit showcases approximately 1,000 vintage toy trains, six interactive displays, and a magnificent operating toy train layout with special pieces that are rotated regularly and decorated for the holidays and changing seasons.

Railroad Museum admission is $12 for adults, $6 for youths (ages 6-17), and children ages five and under are free. More information about the California State Railroad Museum is available at 916-323-9280 or CaliforniaRailroad.museum.

*Photo courtesy of Brian Baer, State Parks Photographer

About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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