Along the Route

  • First full-sized railroad

    First full-sized railroad
    Colonel John Stevens builds a steam locomotive and a circle of track on his estate at Hoboken, New Jersey. The first full-sized railroad in America, it may also be the first hobby garden railway and live steam model railroad.
  • Period: to

    Along the Route

  • John Bull locomotive

    John Bull locomotive
    The locomotive John Bull is constructed in England, taken apart and shipped to the owners of the Camden & Amboy Railroad in America as a full-size kit!
  • Thomas Davenport

    Thomas Davenport creates a motor-driven model train powered by electricity.
  • East meets west

    East meets west
    East meets west at Promontory Summit, Utah, as Central Pacific and Union Pacific rails are joined.
  • European toy makers

    European toy makers develop a thriving export business, supplying colorful toy trains to the growing American market.
  • Columbian Exposition

    Columbian Exposition
    Columbian Exposition in Chicago features many railroad exhibits showcasing full-size and miniature railroad equipment.
  • William Kearny Walthers

    The Walthers family welcomes its newest member, William Kearny Walthers.
  • Marklin

    Marklin introduces its first electric toy trains.
  • Bill Walthers age 7

    Bill Walthers age 7 receives his first train for Christmas, the start of his life-long love of trains of every shape and size. After days of winding the clockwork mechanism, he develops a blister on his thumb that becomes infected and requires minor surgery. Promised a better train, he’s good for the doctor.
  • Lionel

    Lionel Manufacturing Corporation is founded.
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  • George Lee

    George Lee builds the first known model railroad in the United States, operated with Märklin clockwork equipment. Layout is rebuilt in 1906 for American-made models, and converted to electrical power in 1907.
  • American Flyer

    American Flyer
    American Flyer begins production.
  • WWI

    WWI begins, cutting off US from European toys.
  • Standard Gauge

    Standard Gauge
    Ives unveils first Standard Gauge trains.
  • Historical Society

    Railway & Locomotive Historical Society is founded, one of the first railroad historical groups.
  • HO Scale

    Bing unveils a new smaller scale of trains called “half-o,” or more simply “HO,” scaled to 4mm and running on 16.5mm gauge track.
  • Bill Walthers develops new devices.

    As an electrical engineer, Bill Walthers home attic is not only a layout for his Ives and Lionel standard gauge equipment, but his laboratory. Here he develops and tests a variety of new electronic devices that include twin-solenoid switch machines to control turnouts, signals that use Christmas tree lamps, and interlocking circuits that use telephone-style relays and more.
  • Personal Ad

    Bill Walthers runs a personal ad in the April issue of The Modelmaker looking for other Milwaukee-area modelers to exchange ideas and possibly form a model engineers club. (Were not certain, but this may be how Bill met Al Kalmbach, Linn Westcott and others who would later form the National Model Railroad Association.)
  • Pierce Street

    Out of work because of the Depression, Bill Walthers turns his hobby into a business and sets up shop in his home on Pierce Street in Milwaukee.
  • Signal & Control Manual

    Walthers First ad for self-published and printed Signal & Control Manual for Miniature Trains (priced at $3.00) appears in May issue of The Modelmaker. Soon after, letters arrive asking for help in locating supplies, purchasing parts, or requesting additional information about plans in the book. Bill begins supplying electrical supplies and helpful answers, setting the cornerstone for the future of the company.
  • Standard Gauge

    Bill begins producing signals and track for standard gauge (#1 gauge)
  • First Catalog

    Walthers First mail-order catalog of supplies is offered —cost is 3¢, or mailed overnight for 15¢. First year’s sales add up to a very respectable $500!
  • Model Craftsman

    Model Craftsman magazine (later Railroad Model Craftsman) is founded, and Bill Walthers first article, Operating the Model Railroad, appears in the June issue.
  • American Model Co.

    Walthers offers its first O Scale signals and track, and begins production of car kits following purchase of American Model Co. from Ed Alexander.
  • Century of Progress

    Century of Progress opens in Chicago and includes major display of model electric trains.
  • Model Railroad Club

    Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee is formed; Bill Walthers is a charter member.
  • Model Railroader debuts

    Model Railroader debuts in January – Bill contributes a series of articles showing how to transform a holiday display train set into a real model railroad.
  • O Scale Catalog

    Walthers issues first O Scale catalog listing freight car kits (bronze or aluminum castings and wood parts; also available assembled) and passenger cars featuring stamped brass sides.
  • Streamliner

    Union Pacific’s daring new Streamliner is the talk of the town, as the brilliant yellow train barnstorms across America. Popular Science commissions Bill Walthers to build a model and write a how-to article — due in five days — he finishes on time!
  • First NMRA Convention

    First NMRA convention is held in Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend with 75 in attendance, mostly from the Midwest.
  • Water-slide decals

    Walthers offers its first water-slide decals.
  • Model Railraod Club moves

    Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee moves to new quarters in a Milwaukee Road station, and begins construction of the O Gauge Milwaukee Union Terminal layout.
  • Super Chief

    Santa Fe orders first streamlined car for new Super Chief.
  • O Scale expands

    Walthers expands O Scale with first North Shore interurban cars and Ingersoll Rand boxcab diesel. Passenger cars now have punched brass car sides, embossed rivets and cast bronze ends including new Hiawatha cars to match the Lionel Atlantic.
  • Terminal Hobby Shop

    Walthers operations outgrow the family home. Bill acquires first office and manufacturing space in the Erie Terminal Building, which led to the name “Terminal Hobby Shop.”
  • Machine-made lead

    Walthers begins replacing rough castings with machine-made lead die cast parts, which are more detailed and accurate.
  • First Walthers HO models

    First HO models released under the Walthers name, based on items formerly offered under Taylormade brand. Line includes Milwaukee F6 Hudson, Alco HH600 diesel switcher (sand cast bronze body); passenger cars with cardboard sides, wood sides, ends and floor; and freight cars with all-wood bodies.
  • Gilbert American Flyer

    A.C. Gilbert purchases American Flyer line and introduces new HO Scale models.
  • Walthers First HO Track

    Walthers produces its first HO track.
  • EMD FT

    EMD unveils its FT, the first road diesel built especially to move freight.
  • World's Fair

    Bill Walthers is contracted to supply generic O Gauge streamlined car and loco models for a special display layout at the World’s Fair in New York.
  • Walthers decals

    Walthers begins in-house printing of decals.
  • Crestline

    Walthers introduces its own brand of “Crestline” passenger cars kits featuring wood and pressboard sides, and diecast trucks.
  • WWII

    World War II begins in Europe in September.
  • O Scale Passenger Cars

    Bill introduces streamlined O Scale passenger cars, based on tooling developed for the World’s Fair layout.
  • NMRA

    Meredith Smith, NMRA Engineering Manager compiles and presents first NMRA clearance standards, adapted from actual dimensions used by American Railway Engineering Association, in the March NMRA Bulletin.
  • HIA formed

    Model Industry Association (later Hobby Industry Association (HIA), is formed.
  • Hard to find supplies

    Supplies of hobby materials including tinplate, wire, motors and more are becoming harder to find.
  • US enters WWII

    US enters WWII on December 7.
  • Emergency materials

    Emergency materials restrictions ban manufacturer of all nonessential goods (including most hobby products) that require critical materials such as brass, copper, and chromium.
  • Bottom of the Barrel

    Too small to handle major war work, Walthers keeps up morale on the home front (and among service personnel in rear areas) supplying wood and paper kits, and selling off its remaining inventory of pre-war products, leading to famous “bottom of the barrel” ad.
  • Victory!

    Victory! As the only model railroad firm to keep producing the few model supplies it could during the war years, Walthers begins gearing up for bigger and better things with new O Scale models and some additional HO items.
  • Bruce returns from duty

    Bruce Walthers returns from active duty with the US Navy and begins working full-time for his dad.
  • New Mascot

    Walthers introduces new line of paper building materials and a new cartoon mascot named “Willie.”
  • Gulf, Mobile & Ohio

    Gulf, Mobile & Ohio becomes first large railroad to be 100% diesel powered.
  • Walthers Catalog and Reference Manual

    Walthers Catalog becomes Walthers Catalog and Reference Manual for the first time.
  • Plastics

    Plastics, which have been increasing in use since the 1930s for all kinds of products, gain a foothold as a new material for model railroad products.
  • Diversity

    Dozens of new firms enter the model railroad field, creating more diversity with limited lines of specialized products.
  • Goo®

    Walthers introduces Goo® all-purpose adhesive for wood and metal kits. TS-5 Switch Machine is unveiled.
  • Silver Streak and Central Valley

    Walthers announced #7700 series of 60’ short passenger cars with prepainted built-up bodies and plastic roof. Detail parts from other suppliers including Silver Streak and Central Valley are included with Walthers kits for the first time.
  • Solvaset

    Decaling gets easier with introduction of Solvaset.
  • Terminal Hobby Shop

    Responding to requests from modelers who don’t have local hobby shops, and problems within the industry as other distributors cut back or drop model railroad supplies, Bruce creates Walthers new mail order arm, Terminal Hobby Shop.
  • NMRA horn-hook or X2F coupler

    NMRA horn-hook or X2F coupler is adopted as a standard for HO models, especially train sets.
  • Recommended Practices

    NMRA introduces Recommended Practices in January, designed to promote interchange of equipment and specify major component details to improve designs and functions.
  • Decals!

    Decals to the rescue! After several bad years, Walthers sales rebound almost overnight as Athearn unveils undecorated HO kits. Demand for decals skyrockets, and the company becomes profitable once more.
  • Walthers First Home

    Walthers acquires its first official home at 1245 North Water Street in downtown Milwaukee.
  • N Scale

    Newer and smaller N scale is unveiled – named for it’s 9mm gauge, the word “nine” begins with N in nearly every language.
  • NMRA Standards

    NMRA issues first metal standards gauges for HO and O, hailed as “…the most important NMRA development in many years.”
  • Achievement Program

    NMRA introduces Achievement Program to build a wide range of modeling skills, and recognize individual modelers as Master Model Railroaders.
  • Arnold

    Arnold begins making first commercial N Scale models.
  • 30th Anniversary

    Walthers 30th anniversary brings major changes and introduces wholesale lines for the first time including 15 Akane, Alexander, Binkley, Laconia, Cal-Scale, Semaphore Hobby Industries, Central Valley, Anderson track, Permacraft, Floquil, Main Line Models, Kadee, Marnold, Silver Streak and Northeastern Scale Models.
  • BeeJay

    BeeJay Building series, based on Walthers building paper are unveiled with die cut inner frame to which the building paper is applied.
  • Marnold

    Walthers purchases the Marnold power supply line.
  • Brass Cars

    HO catalog now lists 40 wholesale lines. Brass model of an ACF Center Flow covered hopper announced (only brass car model ever imported under the Walthers name).
  • 64th Street

    Walthers moves to bigger quarters on 64th Street.
  • Ulrich

    Walthers purchases the Ulrich line of freight cars and trucks; releases the first of a series of Circus passenger car kits based on converted WWII Army hospital cars.
  • Z Scale

    Märklin introduces amazingly tiny and fully operational models in Z Scale, so named as it seemed unlikely anything smaller could ever be built, and Z is the last letter of the alphabet.
  • Golden Spike Series

    Walthers rolls out its first plastic HO kit, a 50' mechanical reefer under the “Golden Spike Series”.
  • Craft Train

    “Craft Train” kits (multi-media, non-plastic models) is introduced by Bruce Walthers.
  • N Scale Catalog

    First Walthers N catalog is published.
  • Florist Avenue

    Walthers completes its move to its current home at 5601 W. Florist Avenue on Milwaukee’s north side.
  • Last Wood and Metal

    Last Walthers wood and metal passenger car kits are produced.
  • Tooling

    Walthers acquires tooling for the SS Ltd. Line of cast metal details and structure kits.
  • Marklin

    Walthers establishes a partnership with Märklin; first step in becoming a major importer of European product for the next decade and beyond.
  • Instant Horizons™

    Walthers acquires HO-West line of printed paper backdrop scenes, which are reintroduced as Instant Horizons™.
  • 50th Anniversary

    Walthers celebrates its 50th anniversary. First Walthers-brand plastic freight car is introduced (40' composite gondola). Last year that Marnold and full line of passenger cars will be listed in Catalog.
  • Magnuson Models

    Walthers acquires Magnuson Models, begins production of superbly detailed structure kits in resin for the first time.
  • Ponderosa Pines

    Walthers first in-house plastic models include Ponderosa Pines tree kits, plus a 40' composite gondola and an FGE insulated boxcar in HO Scale.
  • Phil Walthers

    Bruce hands the throttle to Phil.
  • Train Miniature

    Walthers purchases popular Train Miniature line and begins producing HO Scale freight car kits.
  • Amtrak

    Walthers first Amtrak passenger models, including Amfleet cars and E60CP electric loco are produced in plastic after acquiring the tooling from American GK.
  • Dealer Displays

    Walthers begins HO freight car of the month releases featuring special 12-pack dealer displays (this popular program would run for the next 10 years).
  • Code 83

    Walthers introduces exclusive all-new Code 83 track system, custom-made by Shinohara
  • Roco and Arnold

    Walthers produces first joint projects with Roco and Arnold in N Scale.
  • Airslide® 2-Bay Covered Hopper

    First all-new Train Miniature car debuts at Boston NMRA convention, the Airslide® 2-Bay Covered Hopper.
  • G scale section

    Walthers HO Catalog includes special section for new G Scale models this year.
  • Digital Command Control

    Electrical engineer Bernd Lenz introduces the first Digital Command Control system, which is used in Märklin and Arnold models.
  • Great Circus Train

    Walthers rolls out its first major theme, The Great Circus Train in HO Scale, based on the colorful equipment at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo as it appeared in 1967. Complete series includes 20 spectacular cars, wagons and a brass model of Grand Trunk Western #5629 decorated for Schlitz/Old Milwaukee, corporate sponsors of the prototype train.
  • Cornerstone Series®

    Combining industries with freight cars, Walthers new Cornerstone Series®, including Interstate Fuel & Oil, American Millwork, Water Street Freight Terminal, 2-stall Engine House, Overhead Crane and Electric Utility Pole kits make their debut in HO Catalog.
  • Fairbanks-Morse H10-44

    Walthers introduces its first new locomotive since the 1930s with the Fairbanks-Morse H10-44 in HO Scale.
  • N Scale Cornerstone

    N Scale Cornerstone Series structure kits are introduced.

    Licensed NASCAR® racing sets come to Life-Like Racing™ line.
  • SW-1 switcher

    HO Engine line expands with all-new SW-1 switcher.
  • Industrial themes

    First industrial themes combining Cornerstone Series kits and Walthers freight cars are released based on petroleum and intermodal operations.
  • N Freight Cars

    First Walthers designed and tooled N Scale freight cars, Cryo-Trans 75’ reefer and Thrall stand alone double stack car along with 40’ containers, are introduced.
  • Trainline®

    Trainline® Train sets providing high-quality and affordable prices for beginners are introduced.
  • Horizon fleet

    Amtrak line expands with new Horizon fleet models.
  • "The Works"

    First major industrial theme, ”The Works,” debuts to make steel modeling easier than ever before. Series stars all-new Cornerstone structures including Walthers biggest kit to date, the Blast Furnace, new mill cars, and our first hardcover book, The History, Making, and Modeling of Steel by Dean Freytag.
  • New Trainline

    New locos and accessories are added to Trainline series including GE Dash 8-40B and depot kit.
  • Big Trains

    Walthers introduces the Big Trains Catalog featuring G, O and S Scales.
  • Amtrak Superliner II

    Passenger car line expands with new Amtrak Superliner II cars.

    Information services expand as goes online for the very first time.
  • Built-ups

    Cornerstone Built-ups join HO structure line with new trackside interlocking tower, speeder shed and crossing shanty.
  • Plastic passenger cars

    Walthers begins production of new plastic passenger car line with HO Budd 10-6 sleeper 46-seat coaches, 24-8 slumber coaches, diners (our first cars designed for drop in lighting kits) and a converted Amtrak 1700 series baggage car.
  • Platinum Line™

    New Platinum Line™ of fully-assembled, superdetailed freight cars rolls out of the Walthers shops with new C&O, UP and GTW style cabooses in HO.
  • New N Built-ups

    First year for new N Scale Cornerstone Built-ups.
  • Santa Fe Super Chief

    Walthers begins its classic name trains series with all-new models of the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief cars and a custom-run of Athearn F7 locos.
  • Pullman-Standard

    First Walthers Pullman-Standard passenger cars are introduced in HO Scale.
  • Engine Servicing Facility

    Modern Engine Servicing Facility theme introduces powered, assembled 130' Turntable with programmable indexing.
  • Life-Like™

    Walthers acquires the model train and toy assets of Life-Like™.
  • Gold Line™ Freight Cars

    Gold Line™ freight cars are introduced by Walthers with knuckle couplers and RP-25 metal wheels.
  • Heavyweight cars

    Walthers passenger car line grows with new HO Scale heavyweight cars.
  • 75th Anniversary

    Walthers celebrates 75th Anniversary with all-new models of Milwaukee Road Hiawatha in early orange and later yellow schemes, as well as several structures.
  • Marklin

    Märklin names Walthers its exclusive North American distributor.
  • Walthers N Scale

    First N Scale passenger car is added to Walthers line. A bright spot in the history of Walthers HO passenger car production, revised Superliners are introduced with real metal finish to simulate stainless steel and all grab irons factory installed.
  • LGB

    LGB appoints Walthers as its exclusive North American distributor.
  • Stacey Walthers Naffah

    Stacey Walthers Naffah becomes the first member of the fourth generation of the Walthers family to join the company started by her great-grandfather.
  • CB&Q E7

    First plated metal finish PROTO 2000 engine, CB&Q E7 is introduced.
  • UP City Streamliners

    UP City Streamliners introduce new prototypically tinted windows in HO passenger car line.
  • Lasercut

    Walthers structure selection line expands with new Lasercut wood kits.
  • Broadway Limited

    Walthers name train series rolls into a new decade with an all-new replica of the famed Broadway Limited in HO.
  • Revised Super Chief

    Santa Fe Super Chief is revised and upgraded with plated metal finish and matching late production F3 PROTO 2000 diesels.

    Cornerstone Series® structure line expands with laser-cut Boomtown USA and amazing Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal kits featuring cardstock construction.
  • NMRA 75th

    NMRA celebrates 75th Anniversary where it all began, back in Milwaukee.
  • Hall of Fame

    Phil Walthers is inducted into the Hobby Manufacturers Association Model Railroad Industry Division Hall of Fame.
  • El Capitan

    Ninth complete HO name train, Santa Fe’s Hi-Level El Capitan is formally introduced.
  • Hi-Level El Capitan

    First limited-run deluxe edition name train, Hi-Level El Capitan sells out almost immediately.
  • Pioneer Bruce Walthers

    National Model Railroad Association names Bruce Walthers a Pioneer of Model Railroading.
  • Lou & Sol Kramer

    National Model Railroad Association names Lou & Sol Kramer, founders of Life-Like Products, Pioneers of Model Railroading.
  • 80th Anniversary

    Walthers celebrates 80 years of serving model railroaders.